Does anyone remember ‘Woolsey’s Lane’ that started in Portadown town centre, and ran to the Annagh River? Probably not as it existed in the 1850s.
Well, it will be brought to life again on Monday with a blue plaque being unveiled by retired Craigavon council member Woolsey Smith, whose Christian name mirrors the fact that he is a direct descendant of the Woolsey (or Wolsey) family that contributed to the town in many ways.
Prominent among these was W.H. Wolsey, twice Mayor of Portadown, and founder of the Portadown Times, earlier the Portadown Express. The paper was established in Carleton Street in the mid-1920s, and Mr Wolsey – after he retired from active service – wrote a history column under the pseudonym ‘The Chiel’ for the Times.
And in this, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Landings (1944) it is interesting to note that W.H’s son - also William Henry - died in action that year in August and is buried at the Ranville War Cemetery which featured in the weekend ceremonies. He was a Lance Corporal in the 11th Bn. Royal Scots Fusiliers, aged just 21. (Grave or Reference Panel Number: III B1).
Respected retired journalist Brian Courtney worked with ‘W.H.’ in his early career, and it is fitting that Brian formulated the wording of the plaque which will be appended to the wall at Edward Street, near the junction with High Street, adjacent to the premises of J.R. McMahon, gents’ outfitters. Indeed, Brian’s ‘Those Were The Days’ historic pages in the Times were legendary when he retired a few years ago. They are still used as a reference to Portadown’s history and often pop up where the town’s past is discussed.
Said Woolsey, “Apparently the lane ran from there around the back of Mourneview Street to the Annagh River – I have maps provided by Lewis Porter, administrative officer with the borough council, and he did much of the research. It’s a great honour and I appreciate all that has been done.”
The plaque will be unveiled at 11am on Monday, and many of Woolsey’s family and friends will be there, including Brian Courtney, and Woolsey’s son Robert who inherited his dad’s ‘alderman’ title on Monday night at the council’s annual meeting.
Woolsey’s Christian name came from his mother’s original surname.
She was Annabella Woolsey before her marriage – and by coincidence Woolsey is moving soon from his current home at Mullahead Road into Mourneview Street, Portadown, close to the original ‘Woolsey Lane’.
The circle of life...