Discover the inspirational story of the Belfast Poor House and its vast impact
on the growing city of Belfast.

May 1832

Cholera In Belfast

Cholera came to Belfast in 1832 and was rampant through the poverty stricken streets of the town.  It killed over 3000 people, with about 500 buried in Clifton Street Cemetery.  The Cholera Pit was opened to enable the bodied to be buried faster.

November 1831

Infant School is formed

1831 – Acting as secretary of the Ladies’ Committee Mary Ann McCracken submitted regular reports to the Committee of the House. The women often had difficulty in persuading the men to adopt their proposals. Twice their recommendation that an infant school should be set up was turned down but by 1831 their persistence paid off. […]

August 1830

Poor Law

1830 – A Parliamentary reform saw the beginning of changes to ‘Poor Law’ and the Irish Poor Law of 1838, with some modifications, remained in force in Northern Ireland until the introduction of the National Health Service 110 years later. The Act united parishes into ‘Poor Law Unions’ that were empowered to levy a poor […]

June 1827

A Ladies Committee

1827- A Ladies Committee was formed following a visit to Ireland by the renowned prison reformer Elizabeth Fry. The driving force behind the Ladies’ Committee for most of its existence was Mary Ann McCracken. She ran a successful muslin business with her sister Margaret and threw herself into charitable work for the rest of her […]

November 1826

Publication of Annual Report

Prior to 1826, the information from the annual report was entered into a ledger and read out at the AGM.  In 1826, the board made the decision to print a booklet which would be available to all members and subscribers.  It has been printed every year since.

June 1824

First raid on the New Burial Ground

1824 – The ‘irregular and unbecoming manner’ in which funerals were being conducted was a problem faced by the Society. Anatomy was taught in the Academical Institute since 1818. Only corpses of criminals who had been hanged could be legally consigned to the dissecting table but the legal supply could be, and often was, increased […]

May 1817

Belfast fastest-growing urban centre

1817 – Belfast was becoming the fastest-growing urban centre in the United Kingdom and a further Act of Parliament was necessary to regulate the supply of water. This Act dissolved the Pipe Water Committee and created a new body with increased powers, to be appointed by the Society – the Spring Water Commissioners. The Act […]

October 1801

Society supplies its own pure water

1801 – The Police Act did not include an obligation to give Belfast a water supply and it was left to the Belfast Charitable Society to make this provision for some forty-five years. Since the streams of water for the Farset and Blackstaff had become so polluted and water suppliers could not meet the demands […]

October 1800

Belfast Police Act of 1800

1800 – Leading citizens promoted the Belfast Police Act of 1800, one of the last measures of the Irish Parliament. The Act was almost a declaration that the Corporation had failed to carry out its responsibilities and covered paving, cleansing, lighting, and improving the streets, squares, lanes and passages. It was also established to prevent […]

March 1799

Inspector General of Barracks

1799 –In a letter dated March 4, when the building was still in the Society’s possession, the Inspector General of Barracks informed the Government that ‘…the Poor House at present occupied by His Majesty’s troops will be given up on the first of June next – there being no further occasion for it as a […]