‘Locked ledger’ a mystery at Flame Gasworks Museum

Sharon Mushtaq, development officer at Flame, with the ledger.  INCT 26-723-CON

Sharon Mushtaq, development officer at Flame, with the ledger. INCT 26-723-CON

The mystery of a 93-year-old ‘locked ledger’ has piqued the interest of staff at Flame Gasworks Museum in Carrickfergus.

The weighty tome, which is secured with heavy duty bolts, is stored in the library at the Irish Quarter West building.

Titled ‘Belfast Corporation Gasworks Wages Book B 1923’, it was recovered during the closure of Belfast Gasworks in late 1980s.

Due to its fragile nature, however, the ledger cannot be opened without a costly restoration process.

“We only really came across the book ourselves about three or four years ago; everyone here would really love to open it and find out what’s in it,” said Sharon Mushtaq, development officer at Flame Gasworks Museum.

“We have other wage books, including one from the time of the Titanic, but none that are bolted up.

“We’d welcome any theories anyone has about why it was locked this way.”

With its collection of vintage cookers and stoves, the museum was the perfect location for a spot of research by award-winning food writer, Viola Dono.

Writing on her blog, www.recipeboffin.com, Viola said: “Preserved on this site are cookers, Irish griddles, old irons, heaters, street lights, washing machines and even a glass washboard.

“There’s something of interest for everyone here; for my nine-year-old son it was the workings of the gasworks itself; for me it was the fabulous range of cookers spanning the century past, and in particular two pieces of cooking equipment which I would love to own myself.

“The first old piece I fell in love with was a standalone gas griddle.

“One could just imagine the soda farls, potato bread and scones that would have been made on this.

“Historian, author, and chairman of the gasworks museum, Brian McKee, told me how griddles were often made from the portholes of ships built in nearby Belfast – nothing was ever wasted.”

Meanwhile, several of the museum’s pieces can even be spotted on the small screen, including a 1980s gas cooker which was used by Northern Irish actor Jamie Dornan in crime series The Fall. An earlier 20th century stove was also on loan to the BBC for upcoming wartime drama, ‘My Mother and Other Strangers’.