On the present site where Woodvale Park now sits once stood a private dwelling called Woodville House, surrounded by 24 acres of land.
In 1887 the house owner the Rev. Octavius Glover sold the site to the Belfast Corporation for the yearly fee of £217 and 13 shillings.
It is believed the sandstones pillars, gates and railings cost £400 to erect.
The idea behind opening Woodvale and other parks in and around Belfast was to give the working class the opportunity to enjoy fresh air and open spaces away from the unhealthy environment of the surrounding textile mills and smog filled streets
The Shankill Road Graveyard
The Shankill Graveyard had been used as a burial ground for over one thousand years, among the 500 Hundred Thousand people said to be interred there contains those from all walks of life, rich, poor, men of the cloth, members of Parliament, and soldiers from the great, and Williamite wars, there is also a section where many victims of the great Cholera outbreak of 1832 are laid to rest.
The Shankill Graveyard is such a Historic site, to learn of our past or just to sit and reflect in the beautiful garden of rest and although it is no longer used for burials it contains a special area where cremated remains can be scattered and a stone memorial plinth for recording and remembrance.
Shankill Road Graveyard
Poem by local man Albert Haslett
In the garden of rest on the Shankill I was amazed at once by the scene
The paths were so neat and tidy
And the grass so short and green
No sign of litter or beer tins
People just sat on the seats
Enjoying the sun at their leisure
Such a feeling of great content
Made me want to care
As I looked around at the headstones
I felt there was someone there
There was a feeling of silence
as I looked at the names of the past
Mill workers, merchants, and builder
The rich and the poor of Belfast.
As I took in this aura of history
Like a book with page after page
I saw a stone to a Royal Air Force man
Killed at fourteen years of age
Memorials to famous people
Names you have often heard
The Nelson Family from Sugarfield
the Telegraph founder William Baird
Then I gazed again at the people
Sharing their worries in chat
Do they think as often as I do
That this will be their lot
When their name is called by the One above
Their trouble at once will cease
And like the people who went before them
I pray they will rest in peace
The Nelson Memorial Church
Nelson Memorial Church sits in Sugarfield Street just off the Shankill Road and is a Grade B1 Listed Building.
The Church was completed in 1887 and designed by William J Gilliland who also designed the Crumlin Road Methodist Church and the Bank of Ireland building on High Street Belfast.
The Church is a memorial to the Rev Isaac Nelson who ministered at Donegal Street Presbyterian Church before becoming a Nationalist MP for Co Mayo.
The Church no longer functions as a place of worship and a bust of the Rev Isaac Nelson and the two World War Plaques have been removed and are stored in the nearby Spectrum Centre for safe keeping.
Shankill Road Shops
As more people from Ireland moved to Belfast to escape the effects of the 1845 famine, the population moved further away from the city center and up towards the Shankill road.
With the building of the linen mills the Shankill, like all main roads leading from the city center was a bustling thriving community and shops were needed to clothe and feed the population.
Two established shops are McDowell druggist and Stevenson’s Fruit shop both have been serving the local Shankill community for at least 100 years each, with people coming from miles around just for McDowell’s famous teething powders.
Other shops on the Shankill that have been trading for over 100 years are Ewing’s Fish Mongers, who have been trading on the Shankill since opening their doors in 1911 and are still going strong today, supplying some of the finest restaurants and hotels in Northern Ireland.
The Shankill Road can also lay claim to having the oldest pub in Belfast, with the Rex Bar, having opened to the public in 1865.