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Monday, 1 April 2019

Fenton, Rodney

Rodney Fenton

was aged 23 and was working for Northern Bank in Antrim Road branch. 
On 20 December 1973, Rodney was shot and killed shortly after leaving the bank with colleagues.  It is thought that he was mistaken for and off duty policeman. 
He was a civilian bank employee.

At the time of writing (2012), there is no memorial to Fenton in Northern Bank.

The book 'Lost Lives' describes the killing of Rodney:

Rodney George Fenton, 22-year-old Protestant civilian, single and a bank clerk was from Lower Ballymartin Road, Killaloo.  He was shot in the back by an IRA gunman at the junction of Baltic Avenue and Antrim Road.  He and 3 colleagues were walking to a pub for a Christmas drink at the time of the attack.  One of his workmates was a reserve police officer and was injured in the attack. All 4 men worked at the Antrim Road branch of the Northern Bank and had been walking along Atlantic Avenue when they were attacked.  A gunman with long hair walked up behind the men and shot the reserve constable and before he ran off,  One of the men told the inquest that the attack was completely unexpected and that the only motive for the attack was to shoot the reserve police officer. A detective said there was no apparent motive for the attack in a predominantly Catholic area.  It was believed that the IRA carried out the attack.  The IRA had issued statements warning people not to be in the company of security force members.  Mr. Fenton lived in a rented room in Belfast.  He was due to go home the following day to spend Christmas with his family.  Mr. Fenton's father was a well-known orthopaedic consultant at Londonderry's Altnagelvin Hospital.  A room at the hospital was dedicated to the memory of Mr. Fenton.

An Appreciation from ‘The Link’ (Northern Bank staff magazine)
The list of those who have come to violent death whilst on the staff of the Northern Bank is not a long one, but one more name must now be regretfully added to that roll.  His many friends both in the Bank and from school and social life were shocked and distressed to learn of the tragic end of Rodney Fenton in an incident outside Antrim Road Branch, Belfast on 20th December.
On leaving school, Rodney went into a business house in Londonderry, not far from his home.  Thus he already had a year’s experience to his credit when he joined the staff of the Belfast Banking Company at Duncairn Gardens Branch on 1st June 1970.  Few officials make so good an impression on so many people as did Rodney from then till the end of what proved to be the short period of service allotted to him.  From his first day in the Bank he showed himself an adaptable and agreeable official.  His pleasant manner with colleagues and customers alike, and his willingness to take trouble to give special service were exemplary.
Though his banking career turned out to be brief, he experienced the extra work in which cashiers were involved over decimalisation; and also the added task imposed by the merging of two Branches of the Bank, but Rodney bore more than his share of these tasks with such good-will that he lightened the load for others.
He deserves to be, and will long be, remembered by those who knew him.  The tremendous number of expressions of sympathy received at the Branch after his death, were a tribute to his popularity with all.
J D Russell

Belfast Banking Company, Duncairn Gardens, Belfast - 1932

On 15th February 1975, The Rodney Fenton Memorial Room of Rest was dedicated at a private ceremoney at Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry by the Moderator-Designate of the Presbyterian Church, Rev. George Wynne.  In attendance were his parenets, Mr George L Fenton FRCS and Mrs Fenton and his brothers David, Christopher and Nicholas. 

The Staff Magazine 'The Link' (Summer 1975) contains a photograph of The Fenton Room.

Update 1

Mr George I Fenton FRCS died on 3rd October 2014.  The late Rodney is mentioned in the Belfast Telegraph death notice.

Update 2

Gavin Bamford made a private visit to Altnagelvin Hospoital, Londonderry to remember Rodney Fenton and to see the Fenton Room.  The following photographs are from the room.

Update 3

The Belfast Telegraph dated 2nd May 1974 reported further detail on the incident:


  1. The memorial plaque to this young man together with photograph of him is now in a room just outside the Intensive Care Unit in Altnagelvin Hospital were visitors wait on their loved ones. I am sitting in this room as I write this. I have been deeply touched to read the tragic story of this young man whose life was cut short so needlessly. I have said a prayer for him. R.I.P.

  2. Thank you Gavin for this very caring and thoughtful action. Such a sad unnecessary death of a young man.

  3. A very dear friend whom I think of often. I shared many many fond times , memories and accommodations with Rodney in the early ‘70’s when I worked at the Bank. I left for Canada (where I still reside) in August 1972.
    I will see you again my friend, may you be resenting in peace.
    John Raymond O’Kane


Please add any verifiable information to assist me in building on the biographical information already detailed. Thank you.