In 2013 a box of old glass lantern slides were found in a loft at Alexandra Presbyterian Church, York Road, Belfast. Originally known as Castleton Presbyterian Church, the name Alexandra was adopted when the Castleton congregation merged with York Street Presbyterian Church in 1942.
The slides were portraits of servicemen who had been members of Castleton before they went off to the Great War. The slides had been made by the famous Belfast photographer Alex R Hogg. The Great War ended on 11 November 1918. The slides were shown in the church on 16 December 1918. Many of the young men had made the supreme sacrifice. Their church and many of their home streets remain. Their memory was almost gone, but an ongoing project is gradually identifying who these young men were.
About this project
The Castleton Lanterns project features images of servicemen who served in the Great War. The project is managed by History Hub Ulster. The lantern slides are curated by Red Barn Gallery, Belfast.
The images are classic studio portraits of young men brimming with patriotism and pride. Drawn from the streets of North Belfast, their surnames give a glimpse of their Ulster-Scots ancestry – from a Patrick Adair who signed the Ulster Covenant and survived the war, to William Fraser and John Houston who joined the Royal Highlanders Black Watch, to James Reid who worked at Midland Railways on York Street but was killed on the 1st July 1916 and is named on the memorial at Thiepval.
The photographer Alexander Hogg was a member of Third Presbyterian Church in Rosemary Street, Belfast. Like so many of the servicemen he photographed, his rural Ulster-Scots roots led his family to the busyness of the city. He was born in Saintfield but his parents moved the family to Belfast in 1890. Alexander became renowned as a photographer and also specialised in giving lantern slide shows on a variety of subjects. The Hogg Collection in the Ulster Museum includes over 5500 images.