County Down


Thread making at Seapatrick
Brookfield Weaving Factory
The Downshire Bridge Saga
VE / VJ Day 50th Anniversary
Local Dialect

Thread making at Seapatrick
(By T.A. Moore)

Frederick William Hayes was born on 11th June, 1802, the third son of William Hayes of Millmount. William Hayes came as a young man to Banbridge, took over the old Reilly cornmill at Millmount, in the townland of Edenderry and started a bleachworks there.

In 1834, Frederick William Hayes acquired glebe land at the rear of Seapatrick Parish Church and built weaving sheds close to the River Bann. He also built Seapatrick House at that time, on the Banbridge side of his new weaving premises. Seapatrick House was built in the style of the great Linen Houses of the period, incorporating a gate lodge and driveway from Lurgan Road, with a lawn sweeping down to a riverside driveway fronted by pillared double gates at the bottom of Kiln Lane. His wife, Isabella Boyd, was the daughter of the owner of the Belfast Foundry, and they had four sons and one daughter at Seapatrick House.

In 1840, Frederick William Hayes ceased production of linen cloth and started linen yarn spinning and thread making in the premises. The weaving sheds were single storey and stone built with "Northlight" roofing. The "Northlight" roof was very popular at that time in the construction of factory premises. It consisted of a series of inverted V structures, which, when glazed on the short side, provided a maximum of natural light for the weaving operators below. In contrast, further buildings at Seapatrick Mills were in keeping with the traditional mill buildings of the period, strong, stone built edifices three or more storeys high. During those early years, Frederick William Hayes established a good manufacturing base for his products, which were given the name "Royal Irish Linen Threads". He died on 13th October, 1853, aged 51 years and was interned in Seapatrick Churchyard. His eldest son, William Hayes, succeeded him in running the mills.

Extension of Premises

William Hayes married his cousin, Martha Mary Law of Hazelbank House, Lawrencetown, in 1855 and took up residence in Seapatrick House. During his period of management with F.W. Hayes & Company, he successfully extended the premises. It was recorded at the time that the firm occupied 60 acres and employed 700 people. To meet the needs of an expanding workforce, William Hayes embarked on a programme of house building. Rows of workers' dwellings were built on the right-hand side of Kilpike Road, from the junction with Lurgan Road. He also built a short terrace of management houses fronting the Lurgan Road, opposite the churchyard. A corner shop was provided at this point, which was controlled by the company, to meet the needs of the workers and their families. The company also built a new schoolhouse of character design, in dark stone, opposite the entrance to the mills, for the education of the children of the employees.

Trading warehouses were established in major English and Scottish cities during the period and a selling agency, H.B. Shaen & Company was arranged in New York. William Hayes had four sons and two daughters. He died on 12th July, 1876 and was interned in a new burial plot in Seapatrick Churchyard. Although still a minor, the eldest son, Frederick William Hayes II succeeded his father in running the firm. The management team was strengthened by the recruitment of Charles Hugh McCall as general mill manager. A few years later Samuel George Fenton, a Belfast man, joined the firm to assist with the overall running of the mills.

Trade fairs were held regularly in major cities during the latter years of the nineteenth century. F.W. Hayes & Company won gold medals for the excellence of their linen threads at Dublin 1882, Cork 1883 and Belfast 1895. Before the days of aerial photography, the mill and factory owners employed professional artists to paint an "impression" of their manufacturing premises. These pictures were later colour printed on large advertising show cards, for distribution to trading warehouses and overseas agencies, as well as being used on printed packaging materials.

Flax from Europe

In the early years at Seapatrick Mills Irish flax was the standard raw material for the manufacture of linen yarns for threadmaking. This was readily available from scutching mills, through established flax markets held in the provincial towns. As the years of the 1800's progressed, foreign flax was steadily coming in. Russian flax, flax from the Baltic States and Belgian flax were becoming popular with the mill owners of Ulster. The flax grown around the Belgian town of Courtrai eventually became established as the superior flax for linen manufacture. But the spinning and thread making machinery changed little over the period. Machines used for preparing, spinning and twisting the linen yarns were highly engineered. Most of the machinery used for these operations was manufactured in the Province, the leading makers being, Jas. Reynolds & Co, Linfield Road, Jas. Mackie & Sons, Springfield Road, and Fairbairn, Lawson, Combe, Barbour, Limited, Albert Foundry, Belfast. These firms had developed on the success of the linen industry. The machinery used by F.W. Hayes & Company for the polishing, winding, copping, spooling, and balling of linen threads was usually purchased in the Manchester area, where a substantial cotton thread industry was being supplied. These machines could handle both linen and cotton threads.

Many manufacturing operations were being done by hand at Seapatrick Mills in the second half of the nineteenth century. The preparation of the flax fibre for later preparing and spinning operations being a good example. The natural flax was taken through a series of combing operations, called roughing and hackling. Rows of men in the flax lofts pulled "pieces" of flax through blocks of combing pins to entangle the fibre and remove the ancillary "tow" from the main fibre, called "line". After the turn of the century, large flax hackling machines were introduced at Seapatrick Mills to considerably improve the efficiency of these operations.

Further building of houses for the workers in the mills took place around 1890. An attractive red brick terrace of ten management houses (Milfort Terrace) was erected on Lurgan Road, opposite the entrance to Seapatrick Rectory. A red brick terrace of 14 workers' houses (Bannview Terrace) was built at the other end of the property, on the road to Lenaderg. Finally, eight semi-detached houses (Seapatrick Villas) were erected opposite St. Patrick's Chapel-of-ease (the "wee" Church).
In 1895, Frederick William Hayes II with his wife Lily, left Seapatrick House and took up residence at "Clareen", Sydney Parade, Dublin. He died there on 2nd April, 1896, aged 37 years and was brought back to Seapatrick Churchyard for burial. The last member of the Hayes thread-making family to reside in the Seapatrick district was John Law Hayes, a younger brother of Fredrick William Hayes II. John Law Hayes was not involved in managing the family firm, but lived, with church benevolence, at Seapatrick Rectory until he died, unmarried, on 7th March, 1934, aged 74 years.

Samuel George Fenton became the first managing director of the Private Limited Company of F.W. Hayes and moved into Seapatrick House with his wife, Lillie Jane. Their first daughter, Dorothy Caroline Fenton, was born there on 2nd October, 1896. A second daughter, Irene Lillie Fenton was also born there on 22nd June, 1899. He was to take F.W. Hayes & Co., Limited, into the amalgamation of thread manufacturing firms that became The Linen Thread Co., Limited, before the new century dawned.

American Thread Making

It was once claimed by a leading linen thread manufacturer that the most profitable years for the firm were the years of the American Civil War, 1860-1865. This can be understood when consideration is given to the amount of linen thread required to manufacture huge quantities of military ordnance, for two opposing armies in civil conflict, on that vast continent. In those years, manufactured supplies required on the American mainland were still largely bought from the British homeland. The profitable years of the early 1860s placed some leading textile firms in a strong economic position, looking for manufacturing development. A very high import tax on linen thread, imposed by the United States Government at that time, made the establishment of American thread mills a very lucrative proposition.

William Barbour & Sons, Hilden Mills, Lisburn, developed their Barbour Mills at Paterson, New Jersey, in 1865, to be followed by the W. & J. Knox Company of Kilbirnie, Ayrshire, who gave their name to an American thread mill at Baltimore. Finlayson, Bousefield & Company, a leading Scottish linen thread manufacturer, with mills at Johnstone, outside Glasgow, started linen thread manufacturing at North Grafton, Massachusetts. In 1879, Dunbar, McMaster & Company of Gilford Mills, took over buildings at Greenwich, New York to establish linen thread mills. F.W. Hayes & Company never developed an American manufacturing subsidiary.

Members of the mill owner's family usually settled in the United States to establish and maintain the new enterprise, and, in many cases, employees in the home mills were given the opportunity to settle with their families to staff the American mills (Banbridge Historical Society has links with American people whose ancestors left Gilford to work in the New York Mills).

The Linen Thread Company Formed

Towards the close of the century markets had become difficult and excessive competition was damaging the industry. Colonel William Barbour, in America, successfully proposed to the Marshall Mills of Newark, New Jersey and the Finlayson North Grafton Mills the idea of joining forces. He then sailed across the Atlantic and North Grafton Mills the idea of joining forces. He then sailed across the Atlantic and gained the support of the Hilden Barbours and the Knox family at Kilbirnie. This bold act of amalgamation carried out by a handful of leading firms, resulted in the formation of The Linen Thread Co., Limited, in 1898. Other thread companies of importance joined later.

F.W Hayes & Company amalgamated with The Linen Thread Company in 1899, as did Dunbar, McMaster & Company, with both their Gilford and New York Mills, in 1901. Other British linen thread manufacturers who joined at that time were :- Ainsworth & Sons, Cleator Moor, Cumberland; Robert Stewart & Sons, Antrim Street, Lisburn; and Crawford Brothers, Beith, Ayrshire. More than 30 years later the Group purchased the thread manufacturing interests of Lindsay, Thompson & Co., Limited, Flax Street, Crumlin Road, Belfast.

It was primarily intended that the new company would market the product brands of the amalgamated mills. The identity of the mills, the future development of their prosperous personal traditions and immensely valuable local skills would be preserved. However, in a few years, amalgamation had prompted both rationalisation and standardisation in the subsidiary mills. Early in the 1 900s, thread manufacturing ceased at the Gilford Mills of Dunbar, McMaster & Company. The product brands were retained but the production of the sole sewing threads and shoe yarns was transferred to Barbours Hilden Mills, while Seapatrick Mills undertook the manufacture of the linen sewing threads, bookbinders threads and carpet threads. This programme also took place in the mainland mills. Gilford Mills became a yarn spinning and bleaching unit, their purpose, to augment the yarn supplies of the other group mills and to market a range of linen yarns to weavers and other industrial uses at home and overseas.

Extensive building undertaken

With the influx of new production, extensive building was undertaken at Seapatrick Mills. A new office block was built close to the churchyard wall to house both management and administrative staff, a works canteen, beside the main gate; a flax machine room; rove store; bundling room and an impressive new thread mill. This housed the thread polishing department on the ground floor and the thread making-up department on the second floor. The building incorporated a flat roof with a parapet wall, to allow the addition of a third storey, should this be required at a later date. Unlike the original mill buildings of Frederick William Hayes, which were largely stone built, all the new buildings were in an attractive red brick finish.

After the amalgamation, the head office of The Linen Thread Company was established at 52 Bothwell Street, in central Glasgow. This building also held the sales department and accounting section. F.W. Hayes & Company had established independent trading warehouses and selling agencies at home and overseas, from the middle of the 1800's These were run down under the central marketing plan of the new company. In the next few years, The Linen Thread Company established sales outlets in all corners of the world for the distribution of yarns, threads and nets manufactured by the amalgamated mills. These roughly took the form of company owned stock warehouses in the British Isles and English speaking countries overseas, registered selling companies in the European sector and contracted franchise agents in other foreign markets.

Scope for New Products

Through this international sales network Hayes 'Royal Irish Linen Threads" were reaching markets never envisaged y their founder. There was also the opportunity for development of new products, acceptable to these markets. To help with this work the parent company set up a Research and Development Department at Hilden.

Seapatrick Mills had long specialised in the manufacture of linen jacquard harness cord. This was used in the weaving factories from 1870 for the manipulation of punched cards on a jacquard weaving loom, to produce intricate damask patterns in the cloth. Linen harness cord was of heavy construction, having had a double twisting operation. It was found that a new product could be produced on the technology of the harness cord and in the 1920s Hayes Twisted Flax Fishing Lines went on the market. They were particularly successful  in Norway, South Africa and Australia in the years ahead.

The success of the amalgamation was being felt at Seapatrick and the Hayes Company undertook a further building programme, to update their housing stock, in the years leading up to World War I. Land was acquired, from the church authorities, opposite the entrance to the mills and 28 semi-detached houses (Hayes Park) were built. The plans for the estate were prepared by William Larmour, the Banbridge architect, to an idea put forward by one of the Barbour ladies of Hilden. This involved the building of English style cottages in grey ornamental block, with high pitch roofs and dormer-type windows. The cottages were laid out with large gardens and planted with trees, shrubs and hedges, giving the appearance of a garden village. The estate was served by a winding driveway. Samuel George Fenton, who successfully directed F. W. Hayes & Company for over forty years, died on 5th September, 1936, and was interned in Dundonald Cemetery. John Doherty Barbour, of Lisburn, became the new managing director.

Seapatrick Cotton Threads

Cotton threads were produced at Seapatrick Mills for the first time in the 1930',. This was brought about by the introduction of consumer articles to match the changing tastes of people in the years between the wars. The suitcase trade was an example of this trend. Suitcases were being manufactured in cheaper fibreboard which did not warrant the use of linen thread. A Hayes "Hayco" Brand Cotton Sewing Thread was introduced to this industry as a substitute for linen. From this initial action, a whole new market developed for cotton threads in other sewing fields. In the next 25 years, cotton threads had reached about a quarter of total production at the mills. Seapatrick Mills never undertook the spinning and doubling of cotton yarns. Supplies of natural cotton threads were purchased from the Lancashire cotton mills and boiled, dyed, polished and made-up in the thread mill.

The years of the second world war brought considerable change to the activities of F.W. Hayes & Company. All the selling companies and warehouses progressively closed down in the European sector. Export sales were almost impossible. The thread mill turned quickly to the production of many thread types required for manufacturing equipment for war. Threads in khaki, navy-blue and R.A.F. blue were commonplace in the production areas. When hostilities ended, the markets were quickly reinstated and Seapatrick Mills returned to supplying thread products to a world market. John Doherty Barbour left Seapatrick in the early 1950s to take up a senior post on the main board of The Linen Thread Company. He was replaced by Samuel Noel Cochrane, a Gilford man, who had served the Group in manufacturing in Brazil. Seapatrick House was demolished and a modem red brick villa built on the lawn for the new managing director.

End of an Era

In 1954, The Linen Thread Company sold seven of the U.S. mills controlled by "The Linen Thread Co., Inc." to an American textile organisation and undertook a programme of diversification into engineering and electrical goods manufacture. The name of the company was changed to Lindustries Limited, to reflect the changing trend and The Linen Thread Company was reduced to the status of "Textile Division" in the new Group. Samuel Noel Cochrane moved to Gilford Mills to take total managerial control and was replaced as managing director by Alexander W. Fleming, who had held managerial positions at Hilden Mills.
In 1957, the Finlayson, Bousfield Mills at Johnstone, Renfrewshire, were closed down. This reflected a declining world market for linen threads, against the new synthetic threads in nylon and "terylene'. Alexander W. Fleming left Seapatrick Mills to take-up the post of manufacturing director in the Textile Division of Lindustries Limited. He was replaced by John Francis Pim, who handled his responsibilities in F.W. Hayes & Company with a youthful enthusiasm. This extended to starting Seapatrick Mills Recreation Club, that excelled on the football field, and at some pleasant dances organised in the village school.

Before the end of the 1950s the home mills lost their independent identity and were absorbed into a new manufacturing group, Eltico Mills, Limited.

Early in the l960s the American consultancy firm, Kinsey & Company was commissioned by Lindustries Limited, to carry out a survey on the activities and efficiencies of the home mills. From their report a decision was taken to close Seapatrick Mill on 30th September, 1962. After a progressive rundown of production operations and the transfer of machinery and material stocks to Hilden Mill, the premises became vacant, thus ending 120 years of thread making at Seapatrick.

Brookfield Weaving Factory


Where no Shuttles Fly
(By Sam Johnson)

I went to work In Brookfield Weaving Factory In February 1943. I had just completed three years of my apprenticeship as a tenter, or, to give It Its more up-market name, a power-loom overlooker, In Murphy and Stevensons, Dromore where I was most fortunate to work under George "Buffer" McQulllan, who assured me he would divulge all tips, "wrinkles" and trade secrets he knew about tenting. He was as good as his word and many a time In the years thereafter I would silently thank Geordie for his Imparted 'know how' which solved many a problem and side stepped many a pitfall with which our trade is strewn. Though it happened fifty years ago, I lucidly recall travelling by train to Banbridge, there being no 'bus service at that early hour. When trains stopped operating in this area, many people bemoaned their passing, but most of the travelling public themselves were to blame for I remember signing a petition to the Transport Board requesting them to put on a 'bus service to Banbridge, leaving Dromore at 7.30 am to allow us to be In our work places at 8 am. For, while the trains were very reliable and punctual, it was a great Inconvenience to have to walk to the station from the town, especially in Inclement weather, as opposed to boarding a 'bus that was literally passing one door. So it was with trepidation that! approached Brookfield by the cinder path that lay across the fields from Peggies Loanin. The factory chimney was vomiting great gusts of black smoke and the stout walls enclosing all the buildings, which rose in tiers on Their levels. It could have been designed by a drunken architect to be built on the side of a steep hill and to be placed so far from the main road only added to its mindless situation.

I found the lowest level to contain the coal yards, furnaces and boilers and the engine room, now no longer in use as electric motors were installed throughout the factory. The smithy too, was located here, as was the pumphouse and iron store. On the next level was the mechanics shop and the carpenters shop adjoined the weaving shed which contained about 350 Atherton looms, packed so closely together that parts of the loom had to be temporarily dismantled to give enough space for the Insertion of a new beam of yarn in place of the spent one. So narrow were the aisles where the weavers stood to tend their looms, that it was jokingly said when a newcomer to the weaving arrived she was measured round the hips and If the tape exceeded 40 inches she was deemed unsuitable as "the quart wouldn't go into the pint pot". Can you Imagine the claustrophobic atmosphere with 350 looms and about 200 workers and the temperature in the summer reaching the middle 80's and the BO intensified by jets of steam squirting from overhead pipes to humidify the air, for yarn, especially linen, weaves best in such conditions. The air was so full of fluff - or "pouce" as we called it - that It covered everything including our lungs with a fine film of dust. On the face of it, medical men would have condemned it as a health hazard, but fortunately - mercifully fortunately - the dusty conditions were not injurious and many workers spent over 50 years working here and their health was not Impaired. A prime example of this was a little man called Jimmy Stewart, a most industrious worker who brushed the factory floor continuously and literally lived in a cloud of dust, but lived to well over 80 years. So much then for the weaving shed. The floor above that housed the winding shop and the dressing shop where the yarn was treated with a liquid size which strengthened It. The "Drawer-Ins" piled their craft here too and In preparing the yarns for the looms they handled hundreds of thousands of Individual threads In a tedious Job requiring constant concentration.

The rest of the floor was taken up by the Cloth Passers who Inspected the woven cloth for Imperfections. If the weavers were guilty of careless work, they would be "sent for" by the head Cloth Passer, who would lecture them severely and even fine them In small amounts which would be deducted from their pay. Indeed, throughout the trade In Ulster, there were those Cloth Passers who were tyrants and looked upon with loathing and not a little fear by weavers who had to meekly take tongue lashings and be belittled by these ogres who delighted In demeaning the errant worker. To give them their due, they had a Job to do and faulty cloth wouldn't sell and liable to result In cancelled orders. The tale was told of a timid little man who was continually "hauled over the coals" for faulty cloth and threatened with the sack. There he would stand, meekly and dejectedly while he was "told oft" and threatened with the sack. However, he won a fair amount on the Pools and he promptly resigned from weaving. His neighbours then noted a schoolboy going Into his house each morning and shortly reappearing again. Overcome with curiosity they asked him what he was up to. The boy explained he had been given a shilling and a key to open the ex-weaver's door, go upstairs and waken him and tell him "the Cloth Passer wants you". Where-upon the old man would turn his back to him and, tucking the blankets more cosily around him, would snarl, 'Tell the Cloth Passer to go to Hell!" It was revenge of a kind. The third level housed the Darning Loft where weaving faults were repaired to give a good-as-new appearance to the cloth.

The yarn store was also located there, the fourth level contained the offices, toilets, canteen and chimney stack. For a factory to be built Into the side of a hill was something of a sick architectural joke. Apparently It had all started off around the turn of the century when a small depot was built for the distribution of yarn and reception of cloth for the hand-loom cottage weavers. Power-looms superseded the hand-looms and Brookfield Factory evolved from a very rudimentary beginning. When I came to Brookfield, weavers only tended 2 looms each, but with the addition of machinery that stopped a loom Immediately when a thread broke, It enabled them to tend 4 looms. In 1964 Atherton Looms were replaced by Northrop Automatic Looms which, though more complicated, produced much more cloth with less labour Involved and enabled the weaver to attend 7 looms. It was at this point that Courtaulds, who had taken over Smyth's Weaving Company. introduced a Bonus Scheme pioneered by Personell, a weaver rose from £6.50 per week to over £10. I remember vividly when the tenters reached the heady sum of £20 per week we had become £1000 a year men. It seemed an astronomical sum at the time, but with raging Inflation, we were soon paying more than that In income tax. The new bonus scheme In Brookfield was a great success and the manner in which It was achieved was a new way of calculating wages. stopped, so you had more yards than a weaver who had weak yarn which entailed much more work and less cloth.

Alter a prolonged study of the work content Involved, various yarns were paid accordingly. This resulted In a great levelling up of wages and a grand Incentive for the worker. Elementary "time-and-motion" played its part too. There is always a better way to do most jobs and the old mindless method typified by the saying "my lather threshed here and I'll thresh here", gave way to more logical adjustments. Perhaps the greatest advance was In the training of new-camera to weaving. Where formerly a young girl was taught by an older weaver she knew, she was liable to adopt the bad methods and habits of her tutor. Instead, learners were schooled by a competent Instructor and emerged fully conversant with her craft. With the Installation of 200 automatic looms, compared with 350 old type, there was much more room In the weaving shed and the provision of two large extractor fans greatly improved the environment. A "Housewife's Shift" was put Into operation and started from 5.30 pm to 10 pm. It was a great innovation for people seeking to supplement the family purse. So work went with a swing in Brookfield for the next 16 years after which, things started to change In the textile world. Places like Egypt and other emerging countries who had formerly grown and sold cotton In Its raw state to Britain and later bought it back in the form of manufactured clothing etc., were now processing It themselves and swamping the world markets with cheap labour textiles. Inflation, too, was putting a high price on British goods and eventually the Ulster Textile Trade began to experience the blight that was closing mainland factories, Articles were appearing In the daily press warning of Impending redundancies and hardships.

Rumours turned Into realities and Brookfield started Its rundown in 1980. Workers were paid off and the scrap merchants moved in to break up the machinery almost before the bearings had cooled, It somehow seemed obscene to see "looms slaughtered" In this way. It was devastating to think that all the skill and expertise accumulated over the years by many above average workers was no longer required. Brookfield finally closed down in December 1980. The true worth of many friendships among the workforce came home to us when our daily contacts ended. It took a long time to adjust to the absence of the "daily round, the common task" that had been our working day together. It was the end of an era. Beside a constant and well paid job for 37 years, Brookfield gave me lots of happy memories. It had often been said "If you can't work in Brookfield you could work nowhere!" There was a certain happiness air about the place and In no way were we hounded by the management. There were always pranks being played and enjoyed, providing you weren't the victim. And many a joke backfired, like a sweepstake on a big handicap race. There were nearly 40 horses competing at a £1 a time and the no-hoper at 200 to 1 was deliberately assigned to the biggest leg-puller in the place, but he had the last laugh when his horse won. Beside the toilets and canteens there were other "hidey-holes" where workers took a necessary smoke and breather from time to time. One of the most popular places was the oil store where the proximity of the boilers kept the oil In a fluid state. It was seldom without occupants and a reclining figure had been crudely drawn mural-like by me on one wall with the addition of the following words that said It all:

Some come here to sleep and snooze
Others come their horses to choose
Some come here to "Spot the Ball"
Clock in, Clock out and do damn-all

From time to time, In our moments of Idleness, we would have a sing-song. We had some good singers who were not averse, with a little encouragement, to render some ditties that were peculiar only to Brookfield! In particular do I recall Jack the Joiner and Albert the oiler who when they sang together had the sweetest blend of voices I ever heard and their rendering of "Dobbins Flowery Vale" was a piece of pure delight. They also had another song, sung at the opening of Orange Halls and such functions which told of Biblical happenings such as David slaying Goliath, In which one verse ran:

Five stones he took
From out the brook
And placed them In his scrip
And with one blow he laid him low etc.

I had my own parodied version of this which we all sang with gusto:

Five stones he took from out the Brook
And placed them in his scrip
And with one blow he laid them low
And split his upper lip

Though nail on the toe did Inward grow
He walked it to Dromore
He twanged his sling, we heard him sing
The Sash my Father wore

To Jericho the Tribes did go
The Walls they did surround
To lay them low, the horns did blow
And make a powerful sound

At drop of hat the Walls fell flat
The mason was to blame
Also the gent who made cement
And Moorhead was his name

In days of old, or so we're told
The Israelites did roam
They had a thirst, twas not the first
When they were far from home

They all did laugh when Moses's staff
Did beat upon the plain
They got a shock when he struck rock
And burst a water-main

Now to conclude, I think I should
I must be on my way
It's well for you has naught to do
But sit around all day

If caught by boss my job I'll loss
And you will hear me wail
"Farewell to you and Brookfield too
And Dobbins Flowery Vale"

The music room where "concerts" took place, was the carpenters shop and a looking glass placed at just the right angle inside the window, enabled us to observe bosses without the lookout himself being seen, though I'm sure the bosses knew - via the grapevine - what went on. The theme for yet another song came up when Brookfield began to weave Khaki Drill cloth for the soldiers uniforms. This required additional machinery called a Dobby, which was mounted on the upper framework of the loom. The loom was fastened to the floor with iron pegs, but the additions of the Dobby caused excessive vibration, which caused the loom pegs to loosen and the loom to dance about the floor. So I made up a song about the dance, which we sung to the popular air of "Do you want your old Lobby washed down. Mrs Brown?"

We once had a Dobby at which we did work
But It wobbled all over the floor
We tried hard to anchor it In the one spot
But lt Jiggled right out through the door
We sent for the fitters who came with a rush
The foreman was seen with a frown
When the weaver said "Mister, im hard on the push
And I want my old Dobby lashed down"

Do you want your old Dobby washed down Mrs Brown
Do you want your old Dobby washed down

And the weaver said "Mister, I'm hard on the push
And I want my old Dobby washed down"
The place where they lashed it was to a tall tree
And around it the birds used to sit
They covered the weaver with feathers and seed
And the Dobby they covered with - grit
They blocked up the levers; they ruined the shed
And they stopped all the wheels going round
And it took little Jimmy two weeks-and-a-half
Just to get her old Dobby washed down

Do you want your old Dobby lashed down Mrs Brown
Do you want your old Dobby washed down

And it took little Jimmy two weeks-and-a-half
Just to get her old Dobby washed down"
The Dobby lay silent It seldom was "on'
And the weaver was losing her time
She lost all her bonus, her temper as well
For the loom never earned her a dime
She came for the Tenter and cried with a sob
As the tears from her eyes hit the ground
"Bring over a hammer, I give you a hand
For I want my old Dobby smashed down"

Do you want your old Dobby smashed down Mrs Brown
Do you want your old Dobby smashed down?

We brought her a hammer and gave her a hand
And we got her old Dobby smashed down, we did
We got her old Dobby smashed down (How's that!!)

Brookfield was now working under the trade name of "Moygashel" and its fabrics were top in the fashion world. Courtaulds sprang a pleasant surprise by granting us a pension - not dating back to 1964 when they first took over, but from the time we were first employed by Smyth's Weaving Company. They also had long service awards for those working with 33 years service in the firm and we, along with employees from Dungannon and Ballymena, were entertained at the "Inn on the Park" at yearly intervals, when the choice of wrist watches, carriage clocks, canteens of cutlery, tea or coffee sliver services, were presented.

Courtaulds top brass were there in the person of Mr. Nightingale and his lieutenants and to wine and dine and swop yarns on a one-to-one basis was unbelievable novelty, for up to that time there had always been a great gulf fixed between the employer and the employee. The "crack" was first class and I have no doubt the tales we told them were bandied around the boardrooms of England when they got home. My own manager, the late Herbie Anderson. who was with us, suggested I might do a poem of thanks which he would send for inclusion in the Courtaulds monthly magazine and while my creaking cranium cannot recall all the verses, these few verses will give you the flavour of what it was all about.

The Brookfield Day

Miss McCullagh wrote to me
And she said 'You've thirty-three -
Years working with Moygashel on the Staff
And there's going to be a spree
In Dungannon and it's free
Would you like to come?" and I replied "Not half
With Big Joe, along with me
And wee Aggie that made three,
The firm soon showed they didn't count the cost
For they made us feel like swells
With our names In our lapels
A precaution least the three of us got lost
And a Nightingale was there
(Not the one from Berkeley Square)
As a business man I found him most astute
For he told me I had "flair"
And he bade me take the chair
So I lifted it and stuck it In the boot
And In days to come my mind I'll backward cast
And whenever I take stock
I will count my carriage clock
Very Special - It's their "present" from my "past"

I finished work Just before Christmas 1980 and still see many of my friends - dear friends - when I visit Banbridge.
And In the quiet moments like when I lie awake before falling asleep, I parade them through my mind and relive those good old days and the antics we got up to. I've said It before and I repeat "If you couldn't work In Brookfield you could work nowhere." I have never gone back to look over the old factory. I don't fancy looking at a smokeless chimney standing like an obelisk In a graveyard that was once a factory. A factory where I had tremendous Job satisfaction - but where now, no shuttles fly.

The Downshire Bridge Saga
(By Walter Porter)

The Downshire Bridge of Banbridge town is finished now, you see, with four great lamps whose light will show, the art of masonry. The contractor's name will rise in fame wherever it shall be, who built the bridge across the "Cut".

The above description in verse appeared in the "Banbridge Chronicle" on 28th November, 1885, when the Downshire Bridge over the "Cut" was rebuilt, the "Cut" itself having been reconstructed and the retaining walls, as we now know them, had been built. But the rebuilding of the bridge had been a long-running saga on a number of counts - costs and designs being amongst
the main problems. At that time a large number of the town's businesses and residents - and also members of the Town Commissioners - had wanted the "Cut" filled in instead of being rebuilt, and many of these people continued to voice their objections when the bridge subject came up. When the proposal to improve the bridge finally was accepted, one of the
Commissioners remarked this would be very beneficial - and he hoped to see it carried into effect "with more speed than usually characterises public movements in Banbridge."

Prior to the rebuilding programme the bridge had been known as "The Jingler's Bridge", as a lady often referred to as "The Lurgan Jingler" had kept an apple stall in close proximity to the bridge. Early on, when design and ornamentation was being discussed, it was proposed that the bridge be called the Downshire Bridge, as the Downshire family had for a long time shown a great interest in the town, and the Downshire Trustees had already contributed £100 towards the costs of building the new bridge. The Town Commissioners had agreed to leave the planning and design of the new bridge with the town surveyor, Mr McKeown. This was an improving town and they wanted to see the bridge over the "Cut" improved, and perhaps a metal railing with the Downshire Arms in the middle would look very well. At a later meeting a sketch was submitted by the surveyor, showing a lamp at each corner of the parapets. The surveyor wished to get instructions as to whether two or four lamps should be erected. They would cost £5 each, and the lamp standards would be metal and ornamental in design. It was also proposed to put a tablet in the centre of the parapet at either side - one in polished black metal with gold letters, the other in metal. It was agreed eventually to use marble tablets on both parapets, and a tender was later received and accepted from Newry Granite and Marble Works. A proposal that the lamps be taken from a different location in the town to save money was defeated, and it was agreed to erect four lamps.

Another design proposal was to place a small tower at each end of the "Cut" walls to serve as urinals, but this was dropped due to expense. Nearing the building stage, Mr Michael  McCarten, Lisnaree, who had been appointed contractor for building the bridge, informed the Commissioners that his contract was for blue stone work in the bridge, but the surveyor said he was not aware of this, as he had intended to use old granite stones for the parapets. Apparently the County surveyor had changed this from the original town surveyor's plans. This was the first of several hold-ups in the bridge construction.

Following other meetings, Mr McCarten said he could build the walls in blue stone for £10 18s., and in granite for £58 16s., so the difference they would have to pay him was £47 18s. There was a lengthy series of debates concerning these prices, and
it was suggested by some of the Commissioners to seek subscriptions to complete the work. Others objected as the bridge would benefit everybody and the cost should be borne by the rates. Apparently the wrangle concerning the changes in materials for the bridge further delayed the work, and the contractor was asked to submit further prices for the materials, but he wanted to know who was going to pay the difference? One Commissioner was of the opinion that if the people of the town made an effort to contribute, the Downshire representatives would give an additional subscription. It was finally agreed to complete the work, using ornamental granite, with the Commissioners to open a subscription list to pay for the building, and that the contractor would submit amended prices. On receipt of Mr McCarten's price for the new design for a sum of £266, deducting £21 17s. for the masonry wall and coping, a Commissioner said "to put that in the waste paper basket". The chairman thought it was a scandalous price - more than twice the original estimate - and another said it was out of all proportion, and to give back the subscriptions. And after more debate the surveyor was requested to have the bridge completed in accordance with the original design and contract. However, a further meeting reconsidered the contract costs once again, and some wanted Mr McCarten to give up the contract, but it was finally passed to go ahead with the work, the contractor agreeing to let the cost be decided by arbitration.

In the months which followed, many meetings on the subject were held before the bridge was finally completed. Some seven years later, on Saturday, 26th November, 1892, the ceremony of unveiling memorial stones which had been inserted in the parapets of the bridge to commemorate the coming of age of Lord Downshire took place in the presence of a large and representative assembly. After having received authority from the Grand Jury of County Down, and on the application of Mr Andrew McClelland, representing the organising committee, these stones were put in their place on the bridge. They were in the form of massive blocks of granite from the Drumcashlone quarries, Newry. On the obverse of one, in a polished panel, is engraved this inscription: "Downshire Bridge. These tablets were inserted by the inhabitants of Banbridge to Commemorate the Coming of Age of the Sixth Marquis of Downshire, 2nd July, 1892". The reverse carried a raised shield on which are carved in high relief the Marquis's coronet and initial "D". In the panel of the second tablet the following words were engraved: "Downshire
Bridge. Erected A.D. 1834; Rebuilt A.D. 1885". The coronet and the letter "D" were repeated on the other side. During the ceremony, the approaches to the bridge were closed by temporary barriers with the bridge and its surroundings tastefully decorated.

Chairman for the ceremony was Dr Robert Brown McClelland JP, former chairman of Banbridge Town Commissioners. After expressing his pleasure at being asked to preside on this important occasion, the chairman went on: "I am sure we all feel satisfied to have this Downshire Bridge completed, and delighted to have the Marquis of Downshire and Lord Arthur Hill present with us. This bridge has been a good while on hand, and there was a good deal of trouble in getting it. I think I was connected with it from the first, and it is a matter of great satisfaction to me to see it worthily completed. We value this bridge for its appearance. It is a great improvement on the old unsightly structure which most of us recollect. "We value it for the convenience and suitability to our requirements; also for the liberal contribution of £100 from the Downshire Trustees, which was a strong inducement in getting it passed by the Road Sessions and Grand Jury. I will now call on the secretary (Mr T H Weir) to read the address which has been prepared."

Following the address, the Marquis of Downshire read the following reply: "My dear friends - It is indeed most gratifying for me to receive this address, and to be present at the unveiling of these memorial tablets. I have so recently received a flattering address at your hands on the occasion of my coming of age, that I now assure you no further proof is needed of your good feeling to myself and my family. Everything which contributes to the improvement of Banbridge must ever possess a deep interest for me. I sincerely join in the hope you express, that the example of my predecessors may ever be my guiding star through life. I remain yours very truly - Downshire" The chairman then requested Lord Arthur Hill MP to unveil the tablets.
Following an address by Lord Arthur Hill, the outdoor proceedings were brought to a close with loud cheers for the Marquis of Downshire. Subsequently, the Marquis and Lord Arthur Hill were entertained at luncheon in the Downshire Arms Hotel.
Dr Mulholland occupied the chair, and Mr Andrew McClelland the vice chair, and on either hand of the chairman were the especially invited guests.

VE / VJ Day 50th Anniversary.

A Look Back at the Military Presence in and around Banbridge during World War 11
(By John Quinn)

To say that N. Ireland was one vast training camp during World War H would not by any means be an exaggeration. For both British and American troops the Province's terrain provided natural training grounds; from the Mournes in Co. Down, to Divis around Belfast, from the hills and Glens of Antrim, to the Sperrins in Co. Derry, manoeuvres and mock battle fights erupted across N. Ireland Not only the mountains and hills, but our villages and narrow country roads provided the ideal "battle conditions" for what lay ahead in various campaigns in Italy, France and Germany. But these "battle games" were to have a serious outcome; the first wave of Americans to come to N. Ireland, took part in "Operation Torch", the Allied Invasion of North Africa, and would end up in Italy.

The North Irish Horse , a Territorial Army Armoured Regiment, put their "tank training" in the Mournes to good use, when they achieved a feat by taking "Longstop Hill" in Tunisia. They later fought in Italy, and won a Canadian Battle honour at Monte Cassino. The second wave of Americans who trained in N. Ireland, took part in the D. Day landings, and many of the British troops were part of the British 2nd Army who fought through, and liberated Belgium and Holland.

The British

As far as Banbridge was concerned Army "occupation" began almost at once. One of the first was the British 1st Battalion of the Rifle Brigade. They were billeted in and around Banbridge, after the outbreak of war in September 1939. One known location was "The Old Brewery" in the town. The exploits of the Brigade who left Banbridge in December 1939 for a transit camp in England, is recorded in the book "The Flames of Calais", by the late Airey Neave, highlighting the Brigade's actions in the turmoil of France in 1940. Many Regiments would come and go in and around Banbridge throughout the war, most notable in local memories being the Liverpool Scottish who were based in Edenderry House, now part of Banbridge Academy, with Nissen huts laid out on what today are the playing fields; the Yorks. and Lancs. are another Regiment remembered, as were the Welsh Fusiliers who were based at Chinauley. The Fusiliers were part of the 53rd Welsh Division and were based all over Co. Down being brought up to combat readiness throughout 1942/3.

They first arrived in Banbridge from Belfast in 1942 on a Sunday afternoon led by a Fife and Drum band, and the Regimental Goat. The band, and the "Goat' would on occasions (on a Sunday) beat the retreat in the centre of Newry Street. As a boy Walter Porter who had a keen interest in band music, would often be keen to get to school at Ballydown near Chinauley, simply to catch the band on parade. More Welshmen married Irish girls than did men from any other Regiment. The 53rd Welsh Division later took part in the fighting to liberate Holland in 1944. Chinauley, situated two miles out on the Castlewellan Road, Chinauley House, a large family residence which was the home of the Bethel family, was taken over by the War Department. The house and out-buildings were surrounded by mature trees, and the area was an ideal camp site because of the natural camouflage already in existence. The first unit to move in was a Battalion of the Kings Own Rifles, who set up its H.Q in the house, while the remainder of the Battalion was stationed in and around Morton's House, "Moorlands" (this site has been completely altered and much of it is now a modern housing complex). The need for sports facilities soon became apparent and some land was leased to the Army by neighbouring farmers.

Opposite Chinauley, a pontoon bridge was erected over the River Bann giving access to a ready made rifle range "The Nut Bank" a sloping embankment inhabited by scores of rabbits, some of whom must have become casualties. This embankment can still be clearly seen today. The area also was converted into a small assault course, with overhead ropes slung across the fast flowing river as part of the course. Manoeuvres were a regular feature around the narrow country roads, and on returning to Chinauley, huge tailbacks of up to two miles would occur, with Military Police trying to direct drivers into their parking areas. Chinauley house is at present under renovation and is a listed building.

Unfortunately such intensive military activity led to many accidents involving the civilian population. A long list of incidents have been recorded by us on file for the period 1940/2. A few examples are as such: Soldier killed in lorry accident at Kilmacrew
22.3.41. Soldier killed in bomb explosion accident at Deer's Meadow 5.4.41. Four roadmen thrown into a hedge, hit by an Army lorry while they sat having their tea -12.7.41. Man of 35 killed when his car hit an unlit Army bus 2.8.41. Army lorry overturns, hits pillar at Ballyward 23.8.41. Soldier drowns in Newry Canal during manoeuvres 20.9.41. Bren Gun Carrier skids into bus 10.10.42. Bren Gun Carrier hits cart 16.10.42.

The Americans

Fourteen days after leaving Halifax, Nova Scotia, Convoy NA-1 arrived off Lough Foyle. Two large transports detached themselves from the convoy, and two days later the "Strathaird" and the "Chateau Thierry" lay in Bangor Bay. Four tenders then proceeded to Pollock and Dufferin Docks in Belfast. Thus landed the first U.S Troops in N. Ireland. They were part of the 34th Infantry (Mechanised) Division, nicknamed "The Red Bulls". They were followed by three more convoys, arriving on March 3rd, May 12th and May 18th, 1942. Deployment throughout N. Ireland began, and V Army Corp. set up its H.Q. at Brownlow House, Lurgan, whilst the 34th Infantry deployed throughout Counties Antrim and Tyrone. The 1st Armoured Division, "The Old Ironsides", set up its H.Q. at Castlewellan, Co. Down. When the Americans arrived in N. Ireland, the British Army already had several Divisions deployed, and in July 1942, a large scale exercise took place called "Exercise Atlantic" which included the recently arrived American Divisions along with the British 59th and 61st Divisions, and the 72nd British Brigade. The first Americans to arrive in and around Banbridge would have been in late March 1942, and would be from 1st Armoured Division.

This first wave of Americans would have trained throughout the summer of 1942, being deployed for the Battlefront of North Africa between September and October 1942. The second wave began to arrive in mid October 1943 when the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division arrived, to be followed by the 5th Infantry Division, the "Red Diamonds", and then the 82 Airborne Division, who arrived in December, having already been in action in Italy. Last to arrive were 8th Infantry Division, "Golden Arrow Division". These men would be training along with British Divisions (which included the 53rd Welsh Division, who were based throughout Banbridge area) for the Invasion of Europe. XV Corp. H.Q., like V Corp. a year earlier, was set up at Brownlow House, and as with the first wave, the troops were deployed throughout N. Ireland, bringing a total strength by February 1944 to 100,000.

The 5th Infantry Division were deployed in South and East Down, with its H.Q. at Donard Lodge in Newcastle, whilst the 2nd Infantry Division moved into Armagh/Newry areas, with its H.Q. at Armagh. So it would be safe to say any Americans in and around Banbridge would have been part of either of these two Divisions. The 5th Infantry Division went to the Fermanagh - South Tyrone areas, whilst the 82nd Airborne were based in the Cookstown - Castledawson areas. Within a few months they were on the move again to the south of England to take part in the invasion. The 2nd Infantry Division, "The Indian Heads", landed in France on June 7th 1944 (D + 1), whilst the 5th Infantry Division joined the battle in July 1944.


The Belgians

After the Liberation of Belgium in 1944, 25,000 Belgians - Four Infantry Brigades - arrived in N. Ireland for training, with the intention of returning to take part in the final battles against the Germans, but with the German surrender in May 1945 they were not destined for active service. However, the Brigades did return to Europe, not to fight in Germany, but as the seed of a new post-war army of Belgium. It is in a way appropriate that N. Ireland should be the place that was chosen for this new army to take shape for it was the Irish Guards 2nd Battalion, (then an Armoured Regiment) as part of 32 Brigade of the Guards Armoured Division, who spearheaded the drive into Brussels of the Guards Division, being met by an overwhelming mass of deliriously happy Belgians. The scene in Brussels that night of September 3rd 1944 could probably only ever be appreciated or fully described by those who were there. In the drive for Brussels the previous day, the tanks of the Irish Guards 2nd Battalion had roared through the Belgian villages bringing Ireland with them. "St Patrick", "Ulster", "Leinster", "Connaught", and the names of some sixty seven other Irish towns rattled across the streets of Belgium.

Another Irish Regiment, the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, as part of the 7th Armoured Division, had crossed into Belgium at Troufflers on 31st August 1944 and within six days had swept forward to liberate Ghent and in so doing took the surrender of a whole Infantry Regiment. So it was fitting that Ireland would continue its role in that liberation and play host to the new soldiers of Belgium. When the Belgians first arrived in N. Ireland, several road signs were erected in French and Flemish to direct the soldiers to their respective camps. The 3rd Infantry Brigade moved into camps in South Antrim, whilst the 4th known as "Steenstraete" was based in and around Banbridge. The 5th Infantry Brigade, "Mere Kems", were deployed in Co.Armagh.

The main contingent of the Brigade were based at Seapatrick on the Kilpike road. A private housing estate rests on the original campsite today. Another billet for the Belgian soldiers was Bells Hemstitching factory which was located at the bottom of the Five Lights Hill; it is presently being demolished. The Brigade's repair shops were sited amongst a concentration of Army Installations on the Lurgan side of Burnhouse factory, 2 miles from Lisburn. Other units were stationed in Gilford Castle, and on the present site of Bannvale Adult Training Centre, which at that time was very wooded, on the Stramore Road. The Belgians left an indelible impression on the people of Banbridge.Several large parades took place in the town, one on the 9th May 1945 which saw some four thousand soldiers parade to celebrate V.E Day. It was a second day public holiday, and for May it was a pretty overcast day.

At 3pm 4,000 soldiers of the 4th Infantry Brigade having assembled at points on the Newry Road marched past a saluting base
at the air raid shelter near the North of Bridge Street, the salute being taken by Colonel Louppe, The music was played by a local band, the Milltown Brass and Reed Band which was conducted by an elderly man, Mr William Clugston, who afterwards was thanked by Belgian officers. There was also a local participation of Youth Groups, Civil Defence, and Home Guard. It was obviously a well enjoyed day, as Joe Shaw's shop sold out of minerals, and there seemed to be endless queues at Fusco's shop for Ice Cream.

The "holiday" atmosphere continued into the 10th, with British and Belgian troops on leave and being seen around the town off duty. Everything returned to normal on May 11th, and training for the Belgian soldiers continued. The next big occasion came on Saturday 21st July 1945 when the Belgian soldiers celebrated "Fete National Belge" Belgium's National Day, which marked the coronation of King Leopold 1st on 21st July 1831, the first King of a free independent Belgium. Once again Colonel Louppe, Commanding Officer of the 4th Infantry Brigade, took the salute at a huge march-past of Belgian troops at the air raid shelter in Bridge Street. The music was provided by the 13 buglers of the 4th Brigade, and the band of the Inniskilling Fusiliers.

The march past had begun what was a full day of events. Beginning at 10.00am it was followed by a wreath laying on the War Memorial at 12 noon. In the afternoon a sports day was held at the Showgrounds. That evening a fair and dance was held with a fireworks display at Seapatrick Camp. The following day, Sunday 22 July 1945, the Belgians staged a pageant and carnival. "Nat" McFadden, watching as a teenager, described the pageant in his diary as follows:

"An elaborate and excellently designed set of "tableaux" mounted on 12 large army lorries toured the town, coming down past the Chronicle Office around 5.3Opm. The procession made its way to the Crozier Monument in Church Square and then continued up the town again. At the same time Belgian boys were dancing around the streets, forming long daisy chains and roping in every young woman available. Hardly anyone was able to refuse and everyone was so happy. The young soldiers proved themselves able ambassadors for their homeland and there was absolutely nothing untoward or offensive in their nature. The first lorry represented the old days of Saxon domination over the fair land of Belgium, and was followed by four others representing the four great Belgian universities; Liege, Mons, Lou vain, and Lourdes. On the side of the Liege wagon was the notice "Closed Students are in Ireland!" Another truck represented the enormous war effort of the Belgian Congo; yet another showed the famous horse of Bayard with four riders on its back. Perhaps the most interesting and spectacular of all were the two lorries portraying the grim ordeal of Belgium during the war years. The car devoted to the underground movement.

The Partisans - was a superb exhibition with a mock SS Officer shouting "Sabotage!" each time a thunder-flash was exploded. The model of the V2 Flying Bomb, or "Doodlebug ", was a masterpiece with coloured smoke being ejected from the tail end. Just like the real thing - and it seemed that the model was engineered to actual size. "The most comical float was that of the "Brewers" with a most risque drawing the likes of which had not been paraded ever before in the streets of Banbridge. The aspects of the coal-mines and country We were also nicely depicted. "The sports, admission to which was free, attracted a good sized crowd. The weather remained fair and dry. We were treated to several continental innovations. Like a bottle-felling competition, "Aquatic Don Quixote ", wheel barrow race, egg and spoon race, and a grand display of motor-cycling including trick riding and driving through an arch of fire, over very rough and soggy ground.

"A very amusing highlight was the annual fight between St George and the Dragon whose supporters had a busy and rough time smacking souvenir hunters who kept rushing in and pulling hair from the "dragons" tail. The "dragon" men were rascals with black-painted faces wearing tunics with the devil's head painted or perhaps, stitched on their chests; they were armed with poles on the ends of which were fastened little sacks. After the ritual "killing" of the "dragon", the party paraded the town with the victor and the dead but still kicking "dragon".

"The Belgians again opened their hearts and hospitality to the local people when they ran a fair and carnival at the camp along Kilpike Road where British Unit 77 were at one time in residence. Stout and minerals were on sale, there were roulette tables petrol-can mountains and dart contests. Once more admission was free and a fireworks display ushered out the celebrations at midnight. "A sizeable proportion of the Belgian servicemen present at the celebrations were men wearing blue tunics, white shirts and red ties, the attire of those chaps who are hospital patients. Many of these young men were members of the underground captured by the Gestapo and viciously tortured by the SS. They are in convalescent camps in Ulster, regaining health, in order to
form a seasoned, responsible, "heart "for the new army of Belgium which is taking shape among the green fields of Northern Ireland. The writer of these records humbly pays tribute and salutes the heroes amongst us." As with the British soldiers, such a large concentration of military activity was bound to result in civilians being involved in road accidents, but compared to the scale of activity these were very few. One tragic example occurred on 7th September 1945 when a Belgian Bren gun Carrier went out of control at Poyntzpass killing 87 year old Peter Campbell. another incident on July 30th 1945 at Seapatrick resulted in the death of a young Belgian soldier.

Manoeuvres on September 3rd 1945 around Magherally were larger than usual as the Belgian troops began a working up period for withdrawal. The Town Council under the Chairman, William Logan, held a farewell dinner for Colonel Louppe and his officers in the Downshire Arms Hotel in September. Within weeks the Belgians, 25,000 men from all over Northern Ireland, the seed of a new post war army, had gone; I will not say "never to return", for they did. In small groups they have come back in recent times to renew old memories and recapture what must have been for them the beginning of a whole new era.

The Home Guard

It would be unfair to write this little annal, brief as it may be, and not mention the local Home Guard. Before the power of the Media, and more recently the Gulf War, "some" people, through ignorance, used to mix up the Home Guard with the T.A. The T.A. at the outbreak of war amalgamated with the regular army and served in every theatre of operations for the duration of the war. N. Ireland's T.A. Regiments fought in France, North Africa, and Italy, and the North Irish Horse, for example, fought at Monte Cassino winning a Canadian Battle Honour on the "Hitler Line

The Home Guard was made up of men considered to old for military service, some being former veterans. Other recruits may have been people unfit for military service, or in reserved occupations. The Home Guard originally known as the Local Defence Volunteers was formed after Dunkirk during the "Invasion Scare". Unlike their German Counterparts they never had to fight.
What they lacked in Military hardware they made up for in enthusiasm. Organized on military lines, they usually drilled in local church halls learning fieldcraft, aircraft recognition, first aid and the like. But they also learnt military tactics and took part in exercises with the army.

The Banbridge Home Guard drilled in the yard at Ferguson Factory learning to shoot ,first being instructed by First World War veterans, and later by the Welsh a quarryland at Dromore Road had been adapted as a firing range and they used this, but they later went to Ballykinler for weekends, and the military training area at Slieve Croob. Locally they trained at the Old Brewery on the Castlewellan Road, already mentioned as a billet for British Soldiers. The ballast pit at Rathfriland Road was also another known location for Home Guard Training. Exercises spread in and around Banbridge and even as far as Newry, and these involved the army and Lysander aircraft from 231 Squadron, an army Co-operation Squadron based at Long Kesh airfield. Despite the threat of invasion having diminished toward the end of 1942, the Home Guard continued until the end of the war when it was disbanded. They may not have had to fight, but they had their own unique little war, joined together by a diversity of age and background.

Banbridge Aeroplane Factory

Many people do not realise that Banbridge was once a leading light in the aircraft industry, the town once boasted of having its own aircraft factory based in Banbridge. The factory was set up in 1943.

The Banbridge Aeroplane

Banbridge may have the distinction in being the only provincial town in Ireland to manufacture complete aeroplanes. "Miles Aircraft" came to Banbridge in November 1943 and were established in the disused linen factory of Walkers, opposite the present D.H.S.S . offices on the Castlewellan road. The factory was adapted for this specialised work by messrs John Graham of Dromore. Initial production was concentrated on the manufacture of "Monoplane air Tails"which were designed to enable torpedoes carried by aircraft to remain airborne following release. On coming in contact with the sea these airtails were automatically released thus allowing the torpedo to continue on course, these devices were of wooden construction, approximately six feet span with a stabilizer fin at each end, small airlons were connected to a gyro motor which was motivated by compressed air carried in two cylinders fixed within the structure. Following the success of these operations it was decided to manufacture the "Miles Messenger" aeroplane in Banbridge. This was a Monoplane of some thirty foot wingspan designed to carry four persons and be able to take off on unprepared ground. It had a four cylinder air cooled engine, special flaps, three fins and rudders, Extensive work was involved in building the assembly, jigs and special tools which called for fine measurement limits. The aeroplane was of all wood construction, the structural timber being Canadian silver spruce and the stressed covering birch plywood, the binding agent was a cement being a two part adhesive, the cabin doors which were of metal were "Gull Wing"design as were later employed on the "De Lorean car". The undercarriage was fixed and was unusually long to allow a high angle of attack and for maximum lift on take off. The main components, wing, front and rear fuselage, tail plane, flaps, rudder and airlons were transported to Long Kesh airfield at Hillsborough and assembled then test flown, Five military versions were built and work was then concentrated on the civil version, the first of these models was supplied to the "Prince Regent of Iraq", Components were also made for the "Miles Gemini" and "Airvan planes" which were transported by air to the main factory at Reading in England. The main spars were carried in the airvan (some 30 feet long) by cutting a hole in the rear door and lashing them to the tail boom. The factory in Banbridge was visited by Sir Stafford Cripps a former ambassador to Russia and the Minister of aircraft production who gave a talk to the entire workforce which included a tea party on the factory lawn in fine summer weather. There is a photograph of one of these aeroplanes on display in the hall of the Civic buildings on the Downshire road Banbridge, it is painted in the livery of Field Marshall Montgomery who used one of these planes for his personal use. The complete establishment was later transferred to Newtonards and was accommodated in a new factory on the airfield. The entire workforce adapted to this new industry under the leadership of the most competent and respected Mr.Robert Gillings who came to Banbridge from the parent factory, Mr Gillings and the author recorded a taped interview for the Ulster Folk Museum at Cultra so that the efforts of the Banbridge planemakers were preserved for posterity.

W. Fyvie

The Miles Messenger M38/Mk11 liaison and spotter aircraft that was built by over 200 folk from Banbridge and the surrounding district

Author: Stuart, William David, 1840-1863.

Title: Memoir of William David Stuart.

Publication date: 1865

Milltown, Banbridge, Ireland
June 10 1862

On Saturday I called upon several clergymen,  Dr.Edgar and others, and then went out with  George Weir to his fathers place,  lisnabreeny,  about 2 and a half miles from Belfast, upon the mountain side. Here I was heartily welcomed by all the family, and made to feel, as far as in their power, at home, home , however is where the heart is; and all attempts to make one, when absent, feel that he is at home, only serve to render the void more perceptible. Such were my felt thoughts as I gathered with this family round their fireside, and saw how happy they were. On Sabbath morning we drove to Belfast in a jaunting car, in a pouring rain, to hear Dr. Cook; but, unfortunately, he was sick and could not preach. In the evening we went to the church  at Castlereagh, nears Mr. Weirs house, and heard an excellent sermon. On Monday i had contemplated visiting an Irish fair; but the young gentleman who was to have gone with me was suddenly called away to see a dying patient, and  I did not care about going alone. Today I left Belfast at 1 and arrived at Lurgan at 2, and then drove six miles over to this place, the beautiful homestead of the Smyth family. I have no doubt but that I shall enjoy the few days that I am to remain with them, for they are very hospitable.

On my way over from Lurgan I visited Donacloney Church, where father was baptized, and where he worshipped up to the time of his going to America. In the yard beside the church my grandparents are buried, and all their children have marked the place by a neat slab and railing. The weather here is most depressing-rain, chilling rain, every day without intermission. If I had not before me the prospect of a speedy return, I would get the blues so badly as to be a most incurable case. This afternoon I have been laid hold of by my father’s old Pastor and some others of the congregation; and nothing will satisfy them but that I must remain here over Sabbath, and address their Sabbath school. Now you must know that in this section of the Country “Stuart” is a charmed name, and is held as the synonym of something very good; and I fear very much that if I stay I would sadly remove the impressions they have of me, for, from what  I can learn, someone has given them far too good an opinion of my abilities, This night three weeks, should all go well, I will again land upon my native shores.

Local Dialect
Norman Kerr


Aye to be sure

















Very small




Old clothes









Sut down

Sat down

Tommy rot


Am knackered

I am tired out


Someone clumsy or useless

Gimme a han here

Give me help


A nuisance

Houl your tongue

Keep quiet


Small children

He's bent

He's not too honest


Moving to a new home

He got a quare gunk

He was surprised

Gie ma hed pace

Do not annoy me

Boys a boys/Boyso

Is that right

Houl yer whisht

Keep quiet

Am bravely

I am feeling well

It's emptyin

Its raining



The bees knees

Top class

Reddin' up

Finishing work

He was kilt stone dead

He was killed instantly

A wiz on the batter all day

I was working hard all day

A wee dote/A tieaddle

Very lovable, cuddly

He is in the middle of his dinner

He is eating his dinner

Man dears

Do you know?/ listen everyone

He got a good hiddin

He was giving a good beating

What are ye slappin' about there

What are you doing


Someone who is awkward or clumsy

He wiz hit a bat on the bake

He was hit on the mouth

Egged on

Encouraged to do something

Give it a good dunder

Give it a good shake

Houl yer horses

Do not be in such a hurry

I'll take a race over, I'll run over

I will go to see you

Do ya need a wee han?

Do you need help

I'll maybe get your length

I might be able to see you there

Will y'tic a drop o' scald

Would you like some tea

Go an get yer head shired

Get away from it all

Moonlight flit

To disappear without paying debts