Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

Carpenter’s workshop

Ballycultra Town building 6

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This is an original building. It was built in the 1830s and came from Rowland Street, Belfast. The building was dismantled and moved to the Folk Museum in 1978.

Although the entrance to the carpenter’s shop is from Meeting Street, the building is actually part of the Tea lane (Rowland Street) terrace of houses. The carpenter’s workshop is placed in the roofed-over back yard of the end-terrace house in Tea Lane. Roofing over a back yard of terrace house to provide sheltered working space was very common in towns all over Ulster in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

During the early 1900s, the end-terrace house and yard were rented by a carpenter called George Gillespie. It is his name that now appears over the entrance to the carpenter’s workshop.

The workshop is fitted out with authentic tools and furnishings. The tools were acquired by the Museum from three main sources;

  • a house repair joiner who lived in Killylea, County. Armagh
  • a barrow maker who resided in Loughbrickland, County Down
  • a potato and fruit-box maker, County Antrim.

The working exhibit is a representation of a typical woodwork shop of the early 1900s. It would almost certainly have been a one man operation.

A wide variety of woodwork was carried out in this kind of workshop. This would include the repair and maintenance of horse-drawn vehicles and domestic furniture. During periods when business was slack the carpenter would turn his hand to the creation of sundry wooden items to order or for sale.   

Look out for the collection of tools which were typical of the early 1900s.