Saturday, 1 March 2008

Victoria Square

The new Victoria Square complex is to be opened shortly and at present they are busy putting the finishing touches to it. The Victorian style fountain which has just been erected is in memory of Daniel Joseph Jaffe who, in 1852 with his wife Frederiké, brought their family of four boys and five girls from Hamburg to Belfast and along with his older sons, Martin, John and Alfred, set up a business exporting linen.

However, it is the legacy of the son – Otto – that often overshadows his father’s testimony. Louis Hyman’s account of Sir Otto’s life records this most distinguished of Daniel’s children as “shrewd, sharp-witted, far seeing and [whilst] almost parsimonious in business, he is lavish in unostentatious charities”. Otto was elected a city councillor in 1879, was elected as Belfast’s first Lord Mayor in 1899 (as mentioned the first incumbent of the title under the new status of the city as a county borough). He was knighted after his first term, served as High Sheriff and was re-elected as Lord Mayor in 1904. Sir Otto’s interest in education extended not only to the primary education of Jewish children in the Cliftonville Road School. He was also a pioneer in the foundation of Belfast’s Technical College and contributed £4000 to Queen’s University. History from Headstones:

I do hope they are going to paint over that garish yellow colour.

UPDATE from Alan in Belfast:

The Jaffe Fountain began life in the 1870's in Victoria Square, Belfast. It was
moved out of the city centre and up to Botanic Gardens in 1993. But today (14th
Feb 2008) it was returned to its home in Victoria Square.

An interesting old photo of Victoria Square, with fountain, circa 1910 can be seen here: