Mural celebrates RAF centenary, pilots and aircraft

The new Northern Ireland RAF 100 Mural at the City Hospital on Belfast's Donegall Road
The new Northern Ireland RAF 100 Mural at the City Hospital on Belfast's Donegall Road

A new mural has been created in Belfast marking the Province’s contribution to British air power in years gone by.

The artwork has been unveiled in the 100th anniversary year of the RAF, occupying a huge rear wall of the City Hospital on Belfast’s Donegall Road.

It focuses on the aircraft that were built locally under licence during World War One, such as the Belfast-made Arvo 504.

The mural also celebrates the pilots from throughout the island of Ireland who flew for the Royal Flying Corps and its 1918 successor, the RAF.

The art project is being facilitated by Pete Bleakley/Shared History Workshop, along with the Greater Village Regeneration Trust (GCRT) and Archer Advertising Limited.

The finished artwork will dovetail perfectly into The Poppy Trail, a consecutive series of NIHE/GVRT murals running along the Donegall Road, depicting each year of the First World War and telling the stories of local men from both communities who served and paid the ultimate price.

Angela Johnston of GVRT said: “I would like to thank the board of the City Hospital for kindly providing the spectacular canvas for the Northern Ireland RAF 100 Mural. It really is the missing piece in our Poppy Trail, as we already have Army and Navy-related artworks along the road, remembering the hundreds of men from south Belfast who fought in World War One.”

RAF historian Pete Bleakley has a personal, as well as professional stake in the Northern Ireland RAF100 Mural, as his paternal grandfather Robert joined the fledging RAF in 1918 and flew in the latter stages of the war.

“My main area of expertise is World War II RAF, but I’ve been enjoying the research for this World War One project, as it has given me an insight into what my grandfather went through, at a time when aviation – which was still really in its infancy – was greatly accelerated by the demands of air reconnaissance and combat over France.”