North Belfast Working Men’s Club – Bowling Green

Tucked away behind North Belfast Working Men’s Club on Danube Street is a green oasis.

The rear of the Club boasts an enclosed Bowling Green added twenty years after the Club opened in 1894. The Glasgow firm that constructed the green in 1913 were paid £461.9s.6d – today that equates to over £44,000 pounds! The green is overlooked by a sporting pavilion from the same era and remains in use to this day. The Bowling Green is hidden from the view of the passing public but is an incredible piece of cared for greenery in what is, generally, a deprived area of Belfast.

The photograph above shows the exterior of the Club before the Bowling Green was developed in 1914. Although the recreation grounds had not been completed, the plans for their development were in place. A Historical Review of the Club’s formative years, 1894 – 1910 states that, ‘a bowling green is in contemplation, which should provide a very attractive feature and make the grounds a valuable place for recreation purposes.’

North Belfast Working Men’s Club

The development of working and social clubs in the nineteenth century stemmed from the Victorian interest in reform and morality among the men who worked in the increasingly industrial towns and cities across the United Kingdom. The Club on Danube Street was the first of its kind in Belfast and was widely welcomed, as this quote in the Historical Review shows:

‘The institution of the Club marked a new departure on civic life, and one that commended itself to all who had at heart the well-being of the working-classes. The club was entirely non-political and non-sectarian, its doors being open to members of all creeds and parties, and was to form a home wherein friendly intercourse could be cultivated, and social and intellectual improvement attained, and where working men could spend their leisure hours pleasantly and profitable in healthy recreation.’

The Rules and Regulations of the Club from 1894 state that the Club’s objectives were to offer its members: ‘the means of social intercourse’; ‘mutual helpfulness’; ‘mental and moral improvement’, and ‘rational recreation’. By 1910, the Club boasted a Billiard Room, Lecture Hall, Reading Room, Recreation Hall and Library so the Bowling Green made a fitting addition to the site.

Members Involved

YEAR: 1894

Location: Danube Street