Aerial view of Portadown back in 1951

Jim Lyttle's picture above the town centre.
Jim Lyttle's picture above the town centre.

Here’s a magnificent picture to stir the memories – an aerial shot that shows Portadown in the years before Magowan Buildings was conceived.

The particular area of the town centre (dominating the left of the picture) was occupied by a maze of ‘wee streets’ – the likes of Mary Street, John Street, Fowlers Entry. They were occupied by families who created a sense of real community.

In the foreground (left) is a structure that epitomised that ‘Hub’ label – the old railway (GNR) cleaning shed where the then steam trains entered to be washed down and cleansed. The railway radiated to every point of the compass, with the town also known at ‘The Crewe of Northern Ireland’. Sadly, most lines have long since been closed.

West Street was a busy shopping thoroughfare, with businesses like British Homes Stores, Freeburn’s confectioners, the Tower Ice Cream Parlour and Robinson’s outfitters.

In Woodhouse Street and in High Street, the site was occupied by Irwin’s Bakery who created the Mall and moved the bakery out to Carn.

Little remains unchanged, although one can spot the Temperance Hall (West Street) now occupied by the Knox butchery, fruit, bakery and flower business. And, of course St Mark’s Church.

At the extreme top of the picture is the row of shops in High Street which was razed by the IRA bomb of 1992. And other premises are no more, due to various attacks – including old Corbett’s premises in Market Street, Burnetts and Berwoods.

Often, emigrants arrive back in their home town to remark – “You wouldn’t know Portadown!” They sound surprised and often crestfallen. But nothing stands still. This old picture shows in stark form that Portadown isn’t what it used to be. Some changes have been welcome, others not so good, but many enforced during the Troubles.

The picture was provided by Jim Lyttle, whose ‘Portadown Photos’ website is a magnificent pictorial record of Portadown. It’s one of a series and we will be featuring them from time to time over the next few weeks.

View the hundreds of pictures on his website.