Plaque unveiled to white stone used to guide aircraft over Belfast during Second World War

The white stone on Cave Hill which was used to help aircraft navigate safely over Belfast during the Second World War
John Monaghan

A COMMEMORATIVE plaque recalling the role a huge rock played in guiding Allied aircraft flying over Belfast during the Second World War has been unveiled.

The plaque to the 'White Stone of Cave Hill' was unveiled today by Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister at an event at Belfast Castle.

The event was also attended by Irish News columnist and historian Dr Éamon Phoenix.

The plaque will take pride of place beside the stone which has been designated as a "recorded historical landmark" by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and the Department for Communities, following lobbying from the Cave Hill Conservation Campaign.

The stone, which is visible on most days in areas of north and east Belfast, was painted white during the war to aid aircraft coming in to land at Nutts Corner airfield and Langford military airbase.

Belfast postman William Adair Caulfield was entrusted with its maintenance during the war and first painted the stone bright white in 1941 for a fee of £5 from the War Department.

Mr Caulfield lived with his wife Nelly and family in Cave Hill cottage, which still stands today.

Cormac Hamill, from the Cave Hill Conservation Campaign, said: "We decided to bring the stone to public attention back in 2016 and informed the then Department of the Environment.

"Over the years, the memory of why the stone was painted had begun to fade but interestingly, a vestige of the tradition remained and many people painted it.

"It has been, in turn, orange, white, green, red, blue and even a vibrant pink in 2014 to celebrate the start of the Giro d’Italia in Belfast."

Belfast Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister said: "The White Stone will remain a tribute to William Adair Caulfield and to all those who used it during the War to help navigate aircraft safely in Belfast airspace."

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