Almost forgotten cenotaph in north Belfast to become visible again

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An almost forgotten cenotaph to railway workers from Northern Ireland who died in the First World War is set to become visible to the public again.

The cenotaph was erected at Belfast’s old York Street station to commemorate railway staff.

The terminus, which dated back to 1848, officially closed in 1992.

There is now a maintenance depot on the site, within which the cenotaph is located.

It is open to the public once a year for Remembrance Day, or by prior arrangement.

However a group of locals have been campaigning for the cenotaph to be visible to the public all year round.

They have now reached agreement for a window to be inserted in the wall in front of the cenotaph, allowing it to become more visible.

Charlie Lawson
Coronation Street star Charlie Lawson, who is originally from north Belfast, has backed the York Street cenotaph campaign. PA/Andrew Parsons

Following meetings with Northern Ireland’s public transport provider Translink, the company has offered a compromise option of inserting a window into the wall to allow the cenotaph to be visible to the public.

Campaigner William McQuade has described the development as a “small but significant victory” for lower north Belfast.

He described it as particularly fitting 100 years on from the end of the Great War.

Now Mr McQuade has launched a fundraising campaign to cover the costs of making the cenotaph visible.

He has argued that a visible cenotaph will help attract more tourists into the area, and show the area’s shared history of service and sacrifice from all sides of the communities that reside there.

“Having served (in the armed forces) this is something that I can say with full conviction that I am personally passionate about and I can honestly say this said monument just behind the works wall should be on public display,” he said.

“I have known about it from a child and often wondered why this is not on display, taking into consideration that whilst we have a shared past that can be contentious at times both sides fought and died side by side regardless of race, class or creed.”

A previous request for the war memorial to be moved to a site on the Shore Road was unsuccessful.

The war memorial was originally erected by the Midland Railway Company at York Street station to commemorate railway staff who lost their lives in the Great War. When the station underwent redevelopment, it was moved to Carrickfergus.

During work at Carrickfergus in the early 2000s, the war memorial was moved to York Road engineering facility, where it remains.

A Translink spokesman said: “Following significant interest from members of the public we are working with community representatives on plans which will make the cenotaph located within NI Railways York Road engineering site more visible to the public.

“NI Railways does facilitate people wishing to view the cenotaph at York Road, and the laying of poppy wreaths, to commemorate railway workers from the local area who died during the World Wars.

“There is an annual Remembrance Day service held at the cenotaph (this year Friday November 9) which is open for all members of the public to attend”.

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