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16 October 2014
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Brian's Belfast Sketchbook

When I worked in Belfast during the 60's and 70's I used to wander the City with a sketchbook during my lunch breaks.

Sketch by Brian Willis

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Great stuff! I do remember the street next to the gas works. It also had the oldest type of round
cobble stones on any street I can remember, perhaps because it didn't get enough traffic to wear when
down, so they never got replaced by the newer square stones. The QE bridge sketch, I worked on
that bridge for two years, the sketch of the temporary crane gantry brought back memoirs, I use to
crossed that bridge 5 -10 times a day. I wish I could help you with the shop but too many shops like that when I lived in Belfast. Cheers, John.



Hi John,

Good to hear from you. Interesting stuff about the cobble stones. Do you remember the name of the street next to the gasworks?

It would be great if you would share some of your memories about working on the QEII bridge. What kind of work you did, people you worked with, stories of things that happened. Were you at the opening of the bridge? Did you finish working on it before the bridge was finished? Sorry about all the questions, but I'm sure people would like to read about your experiences. It would really enhance Brian's sketches if you were able to say what it was like to work on the building of the bridge as well.

Many thanks for contributing to "Your Place & mine" and do keep visiting us.

Editor



Dear Editor:

I just posted a letter regarding the picture of the broken crane boom re: Lagan bridge. I started
work shortly after the job started and I was laid off a month or two before it finished. I have lots
of little stories about working on that bridge, it was a kind of village, I worked as a chain boy (
engineer's helper ) so I was able to travel all over the site and I knew most of the regular
employees ( many workers came and went because the work was dirty and dangerous ) but a lot
stayed and were considered regular employees. Many of the employees lived in Kilkeel ( not sure if it's spelt right )and
traveled each day to work. I now live in Canada ( 32 years ) You can email me <famco@fallsafe.net> fire away with any questions you have re: the QE Bridge. Kind regards, John R



Dear John,

Good to hear from you again and many thanks for passing on more information about your work on the Queens Bridge.

I'd love to hear some of your little stories about working on the bridge. Forgive me if I throw a few more questions at you. What exactly did a chain boy do? Do you remember the names of some of the people you worked with? (eg engineers, foremen, etc) Would you be able to describe in what way the work was dirty and dangerous? It's interesting that you say many of the employees were from Kilkeel, because many of the workers on the Binnian Tunnel (which is featured elsewhere on the site) were also from Kilkeel. Kilkeel men were obviously good at doing difficult and dangerous work. Were all the Kilkeel workers transported back and forth in a bus?
Why do you think it was like a kind of village? Was it the camaraderie between employees or the different skills involved or something else?


Look forward to hearing from you (if I haven't put you off with all the questions!) It's great though to have all this detail to give people an idea of the story behind Brian's sketch and Gordon's photograph.

Regards,

Editor


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