Not in my backyard

The look of housing in the RACKS area continues to change as older houses are replaced by modern, easier-to-heat, environmentally friendlier buildings.

The first evidence of housing in the Cherryvalley vicinity of RACKS (Residents Association of Cherryvalley, Kensington and Shandon) dates back to 1877 when there was a single house called Woodlawn Villas. The occupants were Samuel Campbell (no relation) and S. Clotworthy.

By 1903 there were six big houses at Cherryvalley (formerly known as Cherryvale Road) and Cherryvalley Park (originally known as Woodlawn Park) was beginning to take shape.

There is no mention of Cherryvalley Gardens in Belfast Street Directories until the 1920s.


New houses were built by Belfast Corporation at Cherryvalley in the 1920s. Could this be a view of 39-43 Cherryvalley Park? The ‘Belfast Book, 1929’ notes: ‘Even a superficial examination is sufficient to show how immensely superior the houses are to the parlour and kitchen houses of pre-First World War times. Due regard has been paid to the provision of ample private open space in the form of gardens. There has been a complete breakaway from the pre-war (First World War) ideas of building narrow fronted houses, close up to the footpaths, and in long unbroken rows.’ Notice that the Lime trees look quite small and there are few hedges in sight.


But believe it not, not everybody was happy, as reported by the Belfast News-Letter on Thursday 13th May 1920: ‘Mr McConnell and Red-Tapeism – Belfast Corporation’s application for a loan of £2,000,000.00 for the erection of houses under the Housing of the Working-Classes (Ireland) Act was yesterday the subject of an inquiry held at Belfast City Hall. Mr E.J. Kean attended on behalf of the residents of Cherryvalley Park who objected to the utilisation of a site in that locality on the grounds that – it was not suitable for working-class dwellings’.


What was the outcome?

The Belfast News-Letter was able to announce on Wednesday 29th September 1920: ‘City and County Borough of Belfast, Housing Scheme, to Contractors – Tenders are invited for the erection of buildings at Cherryvalley (Knock District).

Cherryalley Gardens from Gilnahirk Road in the 1920s.  The housing was described thus: ‘comfortable homes, substantially built, modern sanitary arrangements’. These houses were a departure from the previous idea of terraces in long unbroken rows which were close to footpaths.

Article by Aidan Campbell

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