• Our Past

Our Past

The history of the Belfast Charitable Society is intertwined with the history of Belfast itself. Scroll down through the short timeline below to find out more.

1752 – Belfast Charitable Society founded with the aim to build a Poor House and Infirmary

1768- Construction begins on the Poor House following several lotteries to raise the funds

1774 – Belfast Charitable Society incorporated by an Act of Parliament and opened the Poor House and Infirmary with 50 beds for the poor & 20 beds in the hospital

1779- Thomas McCabe and Robert Joy presented a proposal to introduce cotton spinning into the Poor House which was accepted

1782- Dr William Drennan proposed public inoculation against Small Pox in the Poor House which he subsequently carried out

1790- The charity begin to pipe fresh water into Belfast and collect the associated rates

1791- Equiano, the black abolitionist, visits the Poor House and attends a Board meeting

1797- New Burying Ground, today Clifton Street Cemetery, opened for burials

1798 – Society given 48 hours to clear the Poor House due to its links to the United Irishmen

1800- Poor House returned to Belfast Charitable Society

1813- Edward Bunting, the renowned collector of Irish Harp music, holds a concert for the benefit of the Poor House

1817- Act of Parliament gave further powers to Belfast Charitable Society to supply the town with water

1828- Clifton Street Cemetery extended

1827 – Ladies Committee formed through the driving force of Mary Ann McCracken

1832- Cholera epidemic strikes in Belfast. The Poor House introduces a ‘convalescent house’ for new admissions to ensure the safety of residents

1840- Belfast Water Commissioners established to take over the pipe water infrastructure. Belfast Charitable Society given an annuity of £800 per year for its previous investment

1847- Known as Black ’47 due to the number of deaths during the Great Hunger, the burial registers of Clifton Street Cemetery recorded over 1,000 deaths from famine related illnesses

1851- Final meeting of the Ladies’ Committee

1868- John Charter’s builds a wing at the back of the Poor House for the children

1872- Edward Benn finances two wings to the original Poor House, joining it with to the Charter’s wing

1882 – Last child leaves the Poor House and Poor House renamed Belfast Charitable Institution

1921- Appeal for funds to ensure the survival of the charity

1927- Frank Workman and his wife pay for electricity to be introduced to the building

1941 – The decision was taken to evacuate the residents to Garron Tower due to the Belfast Blitz

1946- Residents return from Garron Tower to the old Poor House building

1948- The Belfast Charitable Society’s building is renamed Clifton House

1996 – New Act of Parliament

2001 – Clifton Nursing Home opens

2002 – Newly refurbished Clifton Residential Home opens

2003- The Marquis of Donegall opened Clifton House Interpretative Centre

2018 – Clifton House Residential Home transferred to Radius Housing