McMaster Street is located in the Ballymacarrett area of East Belfast and consists of facing rows of late Victorian brick terrace houses. In the first half of the 19th Century Ballymacarrett was still rural, but with the development of shipyards, ropeworks, engineering works, limeworks, salt works and linen manufacture in the area workers flooded in. The area became an industrial heartland and terraces were built to house the workers. Much of the wealth and prosperity that turned Belfast into a great Victorian city was generated by people who lived on streets like McMaster Street.
Those living on McMaster Street in the Victorian and period, would have been employed by the shipyard or one of the other industries in the area. They would be skilled tradesmen, earning slightly more than an unskilled worker and therefore able to afford the relative ‘comfort’ of McMaster Street.
The terraces did not have front gardens and had only small yards at the back, the cobbled street became a playground for the local children. The cranes of Harland and Wolf have come to dominate the street and are a constant reminder of why the houses were there.
During Victorian times factory owners built terrace housing for their workers close by. This meant they could walk to work in a short time. Walking or cycling is a healthy, inexpensive and environmentally friendly way to get to school or work.