What was life like for Belfast families in 1910?

By 1910, construction of Titanic was well underway and Belfast had become a large, prosperous city. The biggest industries were linen and shipbuilding, which provided lots of jobs. Many people moved from more rural areas to work in the city.

The population grew rapidly with nearly 400,000 people living in Belfast in 1910. At the start of the 20th century, 35,000 people worked in the textile industry and around 15,000 people worked in Harland and Wolff. It was the largest shipyard in the world.

Animated image of a row of terraced houses

Industries

Mechanised looms and spinning wheels meant that Belfast became the leading centre of linen production in the world - the city was even given the nickname Linenopolis.

The linen mills mostly employed women, who were known as millies or shawlies because they often wore shawls.

Many men worked in the shipyard, however lots of other industries thrived in Belfast including rope-making, distilling and tobacco production.

Animated image of a person working in a mill

Find out what people ate in Edwardian times by clicking below.

Watch the video below to find out what life was like for people in Belfast in 1910.

Everyday life

Belfast had a mix of rich and poor households. While the rich lived in large detached houses in areas like the Malone Road, poorer people lived on narrow streets of terraced houses, mainly around the industrial areas.

These red-bricked houses were filled with large families including parents, grandparents and children, so there wouldn't have been much space to yourself!

Most children would have had to share a bedroom with their siblings or other family members and there wouldn't have been a bathroom, just an outhouse in the back yard.

Children would have played games like kick-can, marbles and football together at school and out on the streets in front of their houses. Once they started working, people would have been able to use their wages to go to the cinema or to a music hall.

Animated shot of the cinema complex building in Belfast
Animated image of a boat out at sea