Ballyhalbert History

BALLYHALBERT ORANGE HALL

 

The Orange Hall was opened in late 1899 and was built at a cost of £151.  The Porch of the hall was added in 1906. 

During the years of the First World War, Social Evenings were held regularly for Soldiers or Sailors who happened to be home on leave.  Due to overcrowding at the Local School for a period after the First World War, the Orange Hall was used as a temporary classroom.

In the 1920's the local Churches noticed the advantage of using the Orange Hall for Sunday evening services as all the local churches were 1½ miles away in Glastry and Ballyeasboro.  The Orange Hall being situated in the centre of the village was the ideal answer.

The outbreak of the Second World War saw the Orange Hall play its part in the British War effort.  Due to the airfield in Ballyhalbert, large numbers of British and Allied Airmen and Soldiers were stationed in the area.  The Orangemen gave the use of the Hall to His Majesty's Forces whenever they required it.  They would regularly organise dances and other such like activities for themselves to help break the monotony of life for these young men, many of whom were very far from home.  Obviously many romances blossomed and quite a few airmen were to marry and settle in the Ards Peninsula.

The Local ARP's (Air Raid Patrols) held weekly drill practises and meetings in the Hall.  These were a very Important Group of People during Wartime, and Ballyhalbert in particular would have been a legitimate target for German Bombers.

Two of the more unusual type of Organisations had use of the Hall during the early 1950's.  The Royal Observer Corps held meetings every week and Down Health Authority held a regular Baby Clinic.  Mothers from the village and surrounding District could bring their children along for check ups and Inoculations.  Film shows were popular around this period and it was common for the Hall to be converted into a temporary Cinema for an evening.

In1960 the original wooden floor was replaced by a new maple wood floor which looks good today as it did when the joiners in the Lodge first installed it.

One feature of any meeting in the Hall during the Century was the blazing coal fire that met you once you came through the door.  It paid to come early in order to get a prime seat.  Late comers had to sit further away which in the Winter months was not so pleasant.  The installation of Oil Fired Central Heating at a cost of over £2000 has made life more pleasant for everyone.  A cold winter's night is no longer an excuse to stay away from meetings in the hall.

During the first weekend in May 1995, the United Kingdom started celebrations leading up to V.E. Day on 8th May.  Ballyhalbert, with the importance of the Airfield during wartime, had a special reason to celebrate.  The Lodge placed the use of The Orange Hall at the disposal of the Community.  The Hall became the Headquarters for every event that was planned from Friday to Monday.  There was a constant production line of people making sandwiches and preparing tea.  On Monday, the village was honoured with a visit from H.R.H. Prince Andrew, Duke of York.  High Street outside the Hall became one great street party.  Later a large crowd gathered back into the Hall to hear the speeches and to witness the presentations made to the Veterans who returned to Ballyhalbert for the occasion.  Once again the Hall proved to have such importance for the local people.

To celebrate the Hall's Centenary in 1999, the Lodge decided to have a special Carol Service in December.  The Orange Hall was completed painted and decorated for the event.  A large crowd of villagers joined with the Brethren from Ballyhalbert LOL and RBP on the third Friday of the month.  The Rector of St Andrews Parish Church officiated, Praise was led by Kircubbin Accordian Band and Mrs Carol Gilmore was the Special Soloist.  The occasion was very memorable with everyone being entertained to tea afterwards.

 

LOL 878

Ballyhalbert Independent Loyal Orange Lodge No. 878 was formed in 1864 under warrant from the Grand Lodge of Ireland. 

Up until 1953 the Lodge's full titled was "Ballyhalbert Independent L.O.L. 878", but this name was causing people to assume that the Lodge was in some way connected to the Independent Orange Order.  The Lodge members decided to change the name and, as 1953 was the year of The Coronation of H.M. Queen Elizabeth, the Lodge name was changed from Ballyhalbert Independent to Ballyhalbert Coronation.  

 

R.B.P. 656

Ballyhalbert Gold Crown R.B.P. 656 was formed on 26th June 1953 and comes under Newtownards Royal Black District Chapter No.11, which in turn comes under County Down Grand Black Chapter; all of which are overseen by the Imperial Grand Black Chapter of the British Commonwealth.

The First Banner was unfurled on 2nd July 1955.  The Ceremony was performed by Sir Knight Andy Filson, the first Worshipful Master.  Afterwards a Parade was led through the village by Ballywalter Flute Band.

The present Banner was unfurled in the Orange Hall on Friday 28th July 1989.  The Sir Knights of RBP 656 are proud of this Banner, as it stands out when on parade on The Last Saturday in August.  One side depicts "The Return of the Dove" and the other side shows "The Escape of the Spies from Jericho".

R.B.P. 656 celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2003.