Biographical Notes

Joseph Alexander FERRIS


The following notes were compiled by Gary Chambers (eldest grandchild of JAF):

My Grandfather was born on 24th May 1915 in Belfast in 1915. He was the youngest in a family of five - he had four sisters. His father was a brushmaker by trade and he leased a hardware store and workshop on Peters Hill at the lower end of the Shankill Road. Joseph grew up in the Woodvale area of the city. He attended Forth River Primary School - still in use - on the Ballygomartin Road.

After leaving school at the age of fourteen, Joseph had a couple of years at the "Tech" and then a year at the Connell's Institute (a private "business college"). He then spent a short time with William Adams & Co - Linen finishers. He eventually ended up working for his father, but with the Depression at its peak and business poor, his father was forced to "sack" him.

Joseph met my Grandmother at this period. In fact, they were engaged by the time he moved to London in 1938. The "unemployment people" had sent him to England to do a course in engineering. After finishing the cource, he worked for a couple of firms in London before joining the Gloster Aircraft Company - only two days before the war was declared (in 1939). He began in the workshops assembling Hurricanes and Gladiators. He was promoted to the Drawing Office after his sketching abilities were drawn to the attention of the management - purely by chance. It was simply "being in the right place at the right time". He had no qualifications, but it was the beginning of a career spanning nearly forty years as a draughtsman in the aircraft industry.

He worked on a number of projects for Glosters, including the Meteor (the world's first jet engined fighter aircraft). He also served in the local Home Guard (or "Dad's Army"). They har the responsibility for defending the aircraft factory should the invasion come. It never did!

Joseph Ferris married Margaret England in St. Marks Church of Ireland in Portadowm on July 29th 1940. His sisters Lila (Elizabeth Ferris) and Margaret's brother David (England) were the witnesses. Travel between England and Ireland was virtually impossible (in wartime) even if you could get the time off work. My Grandfather had to get a special pass to travel to Northern Ireland for his wedding. They were married on a Monday - Margeret had only been told on the preceeding Saturday - and back in Glouchester on the tuesday night. There was no time for a honeymoon. My mother Ann Ferris was born in Glouchester in 1941. They lived in Glouchester until 1948.

Joseph transferred to Short Brothers (another aircraft manufacturer) in Rochester in 1948. He moved to Rochester, but the family remained in Glouchester. Glosters were scaling down their operations and there was talk that Shorts transferring their operations to Belfast. Short Bros joined with Harland and Wolff (ship builders in Belfast) and Joseph moved with them. Shorts provided them with a house which my grandfather now owns - 92 Sunningdale Park.

Chris was born in 1951 in Belfast. My Grandfather worked for Shorts until his retirement in 1977. He still lives at 92 Sunningdale Park, off the Cavehill Road. My grandmother died in 1985.


Joe died on 26th May 2002


Last updated 16th January 2010 Person Reference No: 22