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20 Upper English Street

Construction Cost £1.3m
Address 20 Upper English street Armagh
Architect DA Architects


Refurbishment and restoration of existing building, new shop front to retained ground floor retail unit, and change of use of rear ground floor, upper floors and attic to provide 3 x one bed apartments and 2 x two bed apartments at no. 20 Upper English Street, Armagh.

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  • The Valuation Revision Book, 1864 state that David & John McWatters are occupiers of a ‘house and office’ and Rev Daniel G Browne is the immediate lessor. The Belfast and Ulster Business Directory in 1890 lists a trader on English Street named ‘Robt. P. McWatters, Bookseller, printer, publisher, English Street Armagh’. At some stage around 1889 the business is taken over by Robert McWatters. It appears that Mc Watters, Bookseller, printer, publisher were in business for over 40 years.
    Source: History Armagh Publication, Sean Barden, Armagh’s Victorian Shops:
    ‘Several printing presses were operating in Armagh during the nineteenth century and perhaps the best known was McWatters “general printing, bookselling and stationery establishment”. The billheads which Armagh County museum hold from McWatters’ company span 51 years from 1834 to 1885 during which time the business operated from Upper English Street.
    John McWatters’ signature appears on many of the bills throughout the years but by October 1878 John’s son John is running the business. A few years later in 1881 the name heading the company paper is Robert P. McWatters for by then John had sold the business to his brother.
    The information contained in McWatter’s receipts is interesting too. For instance, some early ones record stationery sold to the cathedral authorities in connection with the extensive renovation work at the old Cathedral during the 1830’s. Workmen’s books, passbooks and sheets of drawing paper were bought during the spring of 1834, the latter it is presumed for use by the architect to sketch the proposed changes’.
  • Around 1919, the business seems to change name to Wilhelmina McWatters, who is Robert McWatters wife but the building is still owned by Rev Daniel G Browne.
  • The Irish census 1901 lists the following occupants of Upper English street, so we assume that they lived above the business:
  • Robert McWatters aged 49, listed as a Bookseller, his wife Louise Wilhelmina aged 38, Housewife and their 2 children, Robert aged 17 and Elisabeth aged 15. Interestingly in 1901, John McWatters aged 64 is listed as a retired bookseller in the Census and he resides on the Mall with his wife Marianne.
  • Rev Daniel G Browne, the owner of the building was born in 1808 and was the son of a Congregational Minister, Rev William Brown. He attended School in Armagh and then Belfast College in 1823, with a view to entering the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. In 1829 he went to Edinburgh University where he completed his Theological Studies over a number of years. He was licensed in Dundalk in 1831 by the Presbytery of Armagh. Known for his work during the Famine, ‘he was untiring in his exertions, distributing public relief – freely gave bread from his own table. The Gospel, he thought, when properly received should affect the relation between landlord and tenant, should establish mutual sympathy, which would result in their “bearing one another’s burdens”. He threw himself with characteristic ardour into the Tenant-Right Movement, necessitated by the famine’. He died in 1892.
  • Source; 1990 Journal of The Creggan Local History Society, Rev J MacMillan Dundalk. Rev Daniel Gunn Brown.

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