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Sunday, 13 October 2019

Martin, James

Captain James Martin
was born in Aghanloo, Limavady on 24th May 1880 to James Martin, Farmer and Elizabeth Martin nee McMains.  James and Elizabeth had married on 31st January 1867.

James Martin - Birth Registration - 24th May 1880

James Martin & Elizabeth McMains - Marriage Registration - 31st January 1867

My thanks go to Eileen Reid (a great-niece of James Martin) and also to Stephen McCracken for helping decipher the family name and address & also for the McMains house photo below.

The Martin family home

James joined Northern Bank on 16th June 1897 at Head Office.

Northern Bank, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast

A transfer to Downpatrick followed in 1904.

Northern Banking Company Limited, Downpatrick

In 1901, James is boarding in house 42, Cromwell Road, Cromac Ward, Belfast.  His occupation is recorded as a Bank Clerk.

By 1911 he has moved to Downpatrick and is boarding in house 51, Saul Street, Downpatrick, Co. Down.  He is recorded as a Bank Cashier.

On ‘Ulster Day’, Saturday, 28th September 1912, a James Martin signed the Ulster Covenant at the Assembly Hall, Downpatrick.

Whilst in Downpatrick, James, aged 35, volunteered and enlisted into the Cadet Company, 19th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles as a Private with his colleague, F W Orr and an Ulster Bank, Downpatrick official named J R Buchanan was later to die from wounds in 1st April 1918 in a Red Cross hospital in Rouen.

James volunteered for the Officer Training Corps (OTC) based in Ballykinlar.  Martin was Gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant into the 19th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles and later promoted to Lieutenant and Acting Captain.  Later he was posted to the 10th Bn. Royal Irish Rifles and then attached to the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.  He saw service in Messines on 7th June 1917.

He received a severe gunshot wound to his right shoulder.

Demobilisation came in January 1919 when he was invalided out.  He was awarded the British Victory Medal and the British War Medal.

Following demobilisation, Martin rejoined the Bank on 1st April 1919 in Downpatrick.

A transfer to Castlewellan as Manager followed in 1924.  The Northern Banking Company Limited Centenary Volume 1824 to 1924 lists a J Martin as Manager of Castlewellan.

Northern Bank, Castlewellan

James Martin retired on 30th June 1941 and died on 3rd May 1953.  He is remembered on the Roll of Honour in Downpatrick Presbyterian Church.

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Thompson, John

John Thompson

John was born at Doochary, Co. Donegal on 18th October 1874 to George William Thompson, General Practitioner and Bessie Anne Thompson.  [Ref: 1901 Irish Census.  Address: House 18 Derrynacarrow, Doochary, Co. Donegal]

[Further family information would be required before this can be verified with the official birth registrations.]

On 1st June 1891 John, aged 17 joined Northern Bank at Head Office.

Northern Company Limited, Head Office, Victoria Street, Belfast

Transfers followed to Ramelton (1891), Downpatrick (1893), Lisburn (1896), Head Office (1898) and Derry (1900).

Northern Banking Company, Ramelton

Northern Banking Company Limited, Downpatrick

Northern Banking Company, Lisburn - replaced in 1920s by a new building

Northern Banking Company, Londonderry

By 1901 John was boarding in house 24, Abercorn Road, South ward, Londonderry.  His occupation is recorded as a 'Cashier in Bank'.

By 1911, John is boarding in house 5, Asylum Road, Londonderry Urban, Co. Londonderry.  He is recorded as a 'Sub Bank Manager'.  A possible colleague, Robert E Olden (24 - Bank Clerk) also boards in this house.

According to the Northern Bank staff record, John married a Miss McMurray, Mount Carmel (House), Ballybay, Co. Donegal. [Date unknown].

Further transfers followed to Head Office (1912) and Shercock (1914)

Northern Banking Company, Shercock - see below

During the war years 1914 to 1919 Thompson applied for enlistment but was rejected as being over age.  He would have been aged between 40 and 45 during those years.

Further transfers followed to Head Office (1916) and Dungiven – Manager (1919).

The Northern Whig dated 20th June 1921 carries an article about Dungiven Presbyterian Church.  It mentions John Thompson of Northern Bank as treasurer.

John's staff record carries a remark dated December 1922:  "Of moderate ability - he does his best in your interest", Brown.

The Northern Whig dated 28th June 1933 carries an obituary for John's father, Dr George Thompson (confirming Irish Census parents details 1901).  Dr Thompson died at his son's residence, Northern Bank, Dungiven.  John's mother predeceased his father.

John Thompson died aged 58 on 5th October 1933.

Northern Banking Company, Shercock - see below

The Buildings of Ireland website describes the Shercock branch as:


Attached five-bay two-storey former bank manager's house and attached three-bay two-storey bank, built c.1900.  Now disused. Pitched slate roof with clay ridge tiles, roughcast rendered chimneystacks with profiled copings on gables and over dividing wall, cast-iron rainwater goods.  Roughcast rendered walls over raised plinth course, raised stucco quoins, stucco plat band between storeys on domestic quarters, signage fascia with profiled cornice over bank premises, channelled rustication to bank frontage.  Roughcast rendered walls to gable.  Window openings to dwelling arranged in two groups with one window at first floor centred over pair at ground floor.  One-over-one pane timber sliding sash windows having stone sills and raised stucco block-and-start Gibbsian-style surrounds, with prominent keystones to ground floor openings.  Replacement door to house having matching stucco surround with keystone.  Fixed casement windows to bank section, flanking replacement panelled door with glazed overlight.  Two-storey returns to bank and house, having roughcast rendered walls, domestic return having stepped three-light casement windows.  Outbuildings to rear.  Opens directly on to street.


A purpose-built former Northern Bank branch designed by Belfast architect Godfrey William Ferguson (1855-1939), architect of many of that institution's branches.  The long two-storey composition employs Classical motifs to impart a sense of solidity and permanence, but nevertheless maintains a scale and simplicity that allow it to integrate into the planned town of Shercock.  It is well detailed and of a balanced composition, retaining much of its historic fabric and character, and makes an interesting historic addition to the streetscape.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Wallace, Alexander Wilson

Alexander Wilson Wallace

was born at Bridge Street, Banbridge on 12th July 1887 to Thomas Wallace, Grocer and Jane Wallace nee Wilson.

A W Wallace - Birth Registration

In 1901 Alex was living in house 2, Bridge Street, Banbridge with his parents and 5 siblings, Mabel, Sydney, Percy, Thomas and Norman.  A servant and 4 boarders were also living in the house.

On 21st July 1905 Alex joined Northern Bank at Head Office.  Transfers followed to Ball’s Branch, Dublin (1905), Head Office (1908) and Donegall Square, Belfast (1908).

Northern Banking Company, Donegall Square

In 1911 Alex was living in house 3, Bridge Street, Banbridge with his parents and 5 siblings, Anne Mabel, Thomas, Percy, Sydney and Norman.  A domestic servant and 4 shop assistants were also living in the house but described as visitors.  His occupation is described as a Bank Clerk.

On 30th July 1912 the Belfast Telegraph carried an advertisement from an A W Wallace, Banbridge who was selling a motorbike - 3.5hp, TT Triumph, fortnight old, done 800 miles, guaranteed 55 mph, owner getting a twin.

Belfast Telegraph - 30th July 1912

It appears that the motor bike didn't sell.  On  12th September 1912 the Belfast Telegraph carried another advertisement from A W Wallace, Banbridge who was selling a motorbike - a 1912 3.5hp, TT Triumph, new July, 1000 miles, Lucas horn etc, owner getting twin.

Belfast Telegraph - 12th September 1912

Further transfers followed to Newry (1912) and Head Office – Accountant’s Department (1914).

The 1924 Northern Bank Centenary Volume records Alex as volunteering for enlistment but was rejected on the grounds of him having defective hearing.

Alex died aged 51 from bronchial pneumonia at 52 Bridge Street, Banbridge on 9th May 1939.  This is recorded on his Northern Bank staff record.

A W Wallace - Death Registration

Monday, 7 October 2019

Bamford, George William Rea

G W Rea Bamford - 1940s

Major G W Rea Bamford - 1960

Lieutenant G W Rea Bamford - 1944

Belfast Banking Company - Roll of Honour - WW2

Major George William Rea Bamford TD
was born in Belfast on 6th February 1920 to George William Bamford, Linen Salesman and Margaret Bamford nee McGowan (of Whitespots, Newtownards) of 75 The Mount, Belfast.

Rea's father, George Bamford outside 75 The Mount, Belfast

Rea was educated at Mountpottinger National School, Albertbridge Road, Belfast and later at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI).

Rea's School Jotter

Rea joined the Belfast Banking Company Limited in 1938.  His father signed the Bankers Guarantee and also supplied a letter to the bank on 30th May 1946.

BBCo Bankers Indemnity Ledger - George William Rea Bamford

It is probable that Rea worked in the East End branch from the start of his career up to his enlistment in the army.

On 10th October 1939 Rea volunteered and enlisted at Clonaver Park, Belfast into the '3 Anti-Aircraft Brigade Company Royal Army Service Corps (RASC)' [Territorial Army] as a Driver with Service Number T103793.  On his attestation form, Rea gave his date of birth as 6th February 1919 indicating he was 20 years old, not 19 as he really was.  [The family are not sure why he did this as he was over the age permitted to enlist].  On that day, Rea was 5' 5.5" tall and weighed 116 lbs.

Army Attestation Form (page 1) - G W R Bamford - 10/10/1939

As a soldier, Rea served at 'home' from 10th October 1939 to 24th November 1939 before being posted 'overseas' to France until 19th June 1940.  His time overseas lasted until 19th June 1940 when he was returned 'home'.

Rea was promoted to Lance Corporal on 9th August 1941 and back to Driver on 27th December 1942 when he was transferred to 202 Officer Cadet Training Unit, RASC to train as an officer.

1941 WW2 Xmas Christmas Card (Courtesy EBay)

On 19th March 1943 Rea was 'discharged' as a soldier having been appointed to a Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant with Service Number 268452.

The Army 'Record of Service - Officers' form records Rea's 'Actual DOB' as 6th February 1920 against a 'Declared DOB' of 6th February 1919.  His civilian occupation is recorded as an Accountant, Belfast Banking Company.

As an officer, his training record during war included a Waterproofing Course of Vehicles at Salop (Shropshire), 1943; weapon training course at Altcar (Merseyside), 1943 and a 3" Mortar Course at East Africa, 1944.

Rea was transferred to the Royal Ulster Rifles from the RASC on 14th June 1944 following his promotion to Lieutenant.  He embarked overseas to East Africa and was posted to the 2nd Battalion North Rhodesia Regiment.

Rea's overseas service is recorded on another army document as:

France - 6th December 1939 to 18th June 1940
East Africa - 16th July 1944
S.E.A.C. - 8th June 1945 (possibly the South East African Command)
East Africa - 17th January 1946

Rea records his army service in pencil in his 'Officers Record of Service Army Book 439' in this picture:

'Officers Record of Service Army Book 439'

Rea was discharged from the Royal Ulster Rifles on 12th April 1946 to his home address, 17 Cyprus Gardens, Belfast.

Belfast News Letter - 20th December 1946

Following the war, Rea was awarded the Defence Medal, the War Medal, the 1939-45 Star and the Burma Star.

Medal Ribbon

Rea with his father, George Bamford

After demobilisation in 1946, he returned to work for the Belfast Banking Company but also continued his army career in the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC), Territorial Army (TA).

Based on his wartime and TA service, Rea was later awarded the Territorial Decoration (TD) and Bar.

Rea worked in the following branches; East End (1946), Bangor (1947), Warrenpoint (1950), Markets (1952), North End (1953), Castle Place (1955) and Upper Newtownards Road (1960).  Whilst based in this last branch, Rea also worked as a Pro-Manager in the small sub-branch at Dundonald.

East End branch (Albertbridge Road, Belfast)

Ballyhackamore branch (Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast)

Rea married Edith Malcomson on 7th September 1953 at Bloomfield Presbyterian Church, Belfast.  They had 3 children, Paul (1954), Gavin (1956) & Linda (1961).

Rea died on 28th December 1961 and was buried in Roselawn Cemetery.  He  is remembered on a Roll of Honour in Bloomfield Presbyterian Church.

Photograph courtesy of Nigel Henderson

Service in the Territorial Army

Having been discharged from the army after the war, Rea wanted to continue as an officer in the Territorial Army.  He applied for an 'Appointment to a Commission in the Territorial Army' on 15th March 1947.

Army form 
'Appointment to a Commission in the Territorial Army' (page 1) 
- G W R Bamford dated 15th March 1947

The Interview Board recommended Rea for a TA commission at the rank of Lieutenant and to be posted to 931 (Ulster) Company RASC (TA).

The Army 'Record of Service - Officers' form records Rea's TA career as follows:

1st September 1947 - Lieutenant
1st April 1948 - Captain
1st November 1952 - Acting Major
6th February 1954 - Major

Rea attended his final Annual Camp  from 20th May to 5th June 1961.  He died on 28th December 1961.

 Major G W Rea Bamford
[Front row, 4th from left, with possibly 931 (U) Company RASC (V)]