History of Developments in Mourne

http://www.raymondscountydownwebsite.com

1870 to 2000

By John Newell

 

Passenger and Freight Transport to and
from Mourne from 1870
to present day
Before the advent of the long car in the early 1 870s John Kelly’s short car ran daily from Newly to Kilkeel and back carrying the mail. While Arthur Doran’s short car ran a service from Kilkeel to Belfast and returned the next day. The Post Office regulations were that the mail bags carried had to be chained and locked to the bus seats for safety reasons. In the year 1875 the Earl of Kilmorey started a long car service under the name of Messrs Norton and Company. The manager for this company was Mr H A Matier. The company flourished and around 1883 His Lordship sold the business to Mr Matier who was later joined by his son who resided in Kilkeel. It took the car two hours to travel from Kilkeel to Newcastle. With the state of the ‘roads’ then the time was not too bad.
 

In 1880 Messrs Shaws and Company Touring Services operated daily from Newcastle to Kilkeel and back making many stops on the way. Fares in the 1878 timetable were: Kilkeel to Newcastle 1 / 6 and Rostrevor to Kilkeel 1 / =. A tour from Warrenpoint to Rostrevor, Kilkeel, Newcastle, Castlewellan, Rathfriland and back to Warrenpoint cost 61=.
Also the LNWR operated paddle steamers from Greencastle Pier to Greenore and Warrenpoint. Their names were: The Dodder (181 tons), The Mersey (125 tons), The Servern (125 tons), The Greenore (216 tons) was renamed the Cloughmore in 1912. The Warrenpoint route closed in October 1920, Greencastle April 1921.
In 1901 the Tariff in The Kilmorey Arms Hotel was: Bedroom 2/6, Breakfast 1/9, Luncheon 1/6, Dinner 2/6. Boarding Terms: 51= per day, 351= per week. Longcar:
Warrenpoint-Newcastle (26 miles) 4/= single, 7/6 return; Kilkeel - Greencastle 1/6 return.


 

The Great Northern Railway Company ran tours to the Mourne Mountains and County Down Coast as a combination of rail and coach transport in 1900.
In 1907 The Mourne Mountain Touring Company ran a passenger service from Newcastle to Kilkeel via the Head Road/Silent Valley; this continued for some time. The same year another passenger touring company called The Scottish and Irish Motor Service also ran tours daily from Newcastle to Kilkeel return. Another family owned passenger transport company called Radfords of Rostrevor ran the old tram-like motor buses from Warrenpoint to
Newcastle via Kilkeel. The engines Horse-driven long car at corner of Newry Street, Kilkeel.
used crude and paraffin. The paraffin oil driven bus was bought in Dublin. This in turn gave way to the Ford petrol engine and chassis. James McMullan in his Kilkeel Joinery Workshop skillfully built the body shells on the buses. The company ran scheduled daily services in those days. A lot of horse traffic were also using the roads in the early days.
 

Roads were in very poor condition with pot holes and soft spots here and there. Some places were very rough especially in wet weather. Care was essential on these roads by both I the drivers of horse and motorised transport.
During the 1914-18 war a shortage of petrol kept the buses down to two double runs per day. The return fare from Kilkeel to Newcastle was still 1/6. When the petrol got more plentiful they were able to do four doubles per day.
In 1916 the Belfast County Down Railway joined the fray and started motor coach tours from Kilkeel to Newcastle. Mr Matier, jnr, continued as manager and one year later started with a service to Warrenpoint. This continued until 1929 when he sold his business to the Great Northern Railways and became their manager.
James McVeigh was one of the first bus drivers on the Kilkeel to Newcastle route. They used Dennis chassis at first but changed to Leyland Motors. These were more powerful and easier to drive on the roads.
 

In 1924 David McAtee and Sons started a bus service call The Mourne Fleet Enterprises Lancia Coaches. They ran a daily return passenger services to Belfast and Newry McAtee’s were the first bus service to run direct from Kilkeel to Belfast. The return fare was 6/6. For anyone who could afford to travel this was a luxury.
As well as scheduled daily runs they did excursions to Portrush and The Glens of Antrim in the Summer. They introduced private hire with buses being booked to go to football matches. The names of their drivers were Tommy Haugh, Willie Grills, Jim Macintosh, Cecil Kelly and L Shields. They operated four buses.
In 1924 another Kilkeel man, Paddy Sloane, pioneered a Kilkeel-Newry bus service each day. Again they were available for private hire. Paddy’s two Sons, Pat Joe and Barney, drove their   ‘Roseville” buses.

By now passenger transport was very big business and soon BOC (Belfast Omnibus Company) had taken over both companies (1927) as part of a rationalisation programme. McAtee’s sold their fleet to a Dublin-based company.
People who used these early transport services still remember their clockwork regularity and cheerful dispositions of driver and conductor.
The Belfast Omnibus Company was formed in 1927 as part of a general attempt to rationalise the rather chaotic situation with regard to road passenger transport in Northern Ireland. At the time of the BOCs formation there were some 150 independent bus operations in the Province. Most of these consisted of very small independent entrepreneurs who ran a handful of vehicles each.

The BOC set out to acquire some 136 vehicles from private operators to establish a network of services. New bus depots and offices were opened in most provincial towns. Substantial compensation payments were made to the outgoing companies in return for an agreement to cease all operations. Most drivers got the option of a job with the new company in their own areas but some had to travel to other depots. All drivers had to pass a medical and driving test

 

The company purchased fleets of Leyland and ABC Reliance coaches to cover their public service commitments and ensure that the public had no worse service than they had under the private operators.
As the routes were increased and bus travel became more popular more staff were needed. This was a Godsend as at that time (early thirties) work was hard to come by. By 1934 there wasl47 vehicles in use; bus transport had become a very distinctive feature of country living.
The Northern Ireland Road Transport Board (NIRTB) was established in August 1935 under the auspices of Road and Railway Transport Act(NI) 1935. The BOC was acquired on 1 October 1935 along with HMS Catherwood Ltd. The picture for transport was complete by the three big railway companies: GNR(I), LMS(NCC) and BCDR.
 

Around 1936 there were about seven bus crews working out of the Kilkeel Depot, but controlled from Portadown. Within a short space of time the number had risen to over twenty. The drivers and their conductors were known by everyone along the main roads. Bus route No 39 was Kilkeel to Newry, No 20 was Kilkeel to Belfast - just two ways out. Our depot in Kilkeel had several clerks and there was a special pay-in office and staff rooms from where the conductors handed in and collected their boxes, bags, record cards and time-sheets. There were then two men in each crew. You could also purchase, in advance, weekly tickets and luggage could be handed in well before your bus journeys.
 

OFFICE STAFF
John Foy was the controller in the early days in Kilkeel depot and John Skillen succeeded him. The last of the controllers in the really busy days were Alister Lockhard and Bill Ferris. Clerical staff were W. J. Magowan, Cecil Commons, Tom Neill and George Walker were clerks in charge of both passenger and freight services. Tommy Haugh was Traffic Inspector permanently based in Kilkeel. He has been in the transport business in his home district for many years having served in the old days with McAtees as a driver. A second traffic inspector based at Kilkeel was Cecil Lewers.
 

UTILITY BUSES
The utility buses were introduced from 1942 onwards. Over the subsequent three years a total of 175 vehicles entered service with the Northern
 Ireland Road Transport Board (NIRTB) at all these depots. Three buses were based at Kilkeel Depot and two known Fleet Nos. were 936 and 953. These buses were all single deck Bedford OWBs equipped with the most basic bodywork features suited to wartime austerity. The seats in the buses were made from narrow strips of hardwood timber mounted on tubular frames bolted down to the floor. These seats were very uncomfortable to sit on for any length of time. They were only used for short runs if possible.
 

Around 1946/7 more comfortable and stream-lined Leyland buses were introduced to the service. Gradually the utility buses were phased-out.
Around 1947 the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) took over the NIRTB. The quality of the service offered was almost beyond belief. Timetables displayed at local depots took up a whole big printed sheet. In many cases especially at weekends buses ran every half hour. If the first and second were full there was always a bus and crew to follow up. In the mid-fifties the UTA was a most important factor in the modem school system in Mourne.
The Centralisation brought about by the opening of the two big secondary schools in Kilkeel taking all children aged eleven from the primary schools. In order that all students arrived in time each morning drivers had to be on the road at an early hour to Greencastle, Lisnacree, Ballinran, Atticall, Silent Valley, Ballymartin, Longstone, Ballyvea, Annalong and Glasdrumman. The same process was repeated in the evenings to enable children to arrive home at a reasonable hour There is no doubt that drivers shouldered a heavy responsibility for the lives and limbs of the future generations.
 

Before the secondary schools were built students travelled to Newry and Downpatrick for their secondary schooling.
When the UTA took over from the NIRTB the conductors were using “Willibrew” Punchers/Ticket machines carried on a leather strap round their neck. In 1951 new Setright Registers were issued to the conductors also with a leather strap. The partially pre-printed tickets were slotted into the front of the machine, the dial adjusted to record the correct fare and the handle wound to complete the details. These machines were reliable but slow.
The mid 1960s heralded the end of the U17A and a further re-organisation of transport took place with Ulsterbus taking over. The 1047 vehicles that Ulsterbus inherited were almost all at the end of their useful working lives as the UTA knowing that they were on their way out had invested no new stock for three years although some of their buses were 25 years old.
 

Determined to reduce the average age of the fleet to around 14 years Ulsterbus placed orders for 83 new buses including 70 Bedfords
built in Blackpool with Duple bodies. Their major attraction was a low purchase price, important to the new company, but they proved
 

unpopular with drivers and were not very durable. The remainder of the order was made up of Leyland vehicles for express services and 6 tour coaches.
Some months before Ulsterbus actually began operating services, senior managers of the newly formed company established to take over the running of bus services from the old Ulster Transport Authority called a meeting of Trade Union officials in Belfast cinema. The
managing director of  Ulsterbus Werner Heubeck spelt out the challenges and the opportunities facing
every one involved One of  the key messages was that costs would have be cut dramatically if the new company was to survive. A main element of that cost- cutting would be the introduction of a one- person operation of buses; no longer could a commercial bus company afford to have a driver and conductor. Many conductors were re-trained to become drivers while others went into clerical jobs. The known names were Benny Cunningham,
Mick Hardy, Benny Hardy, Willie Newell, Joe Sloane, Stanley Cousins (The Moor) and Fergus Mcllroy, who later became an Inspector and transferred to Newry Depot.
 

Ulsterbus the new company eventually took responsibility for running Northern Ireland bus services outside of Belfast on Monday l7April 1967. On the Sunday night UTA finished up with 1600 duties; next morning Ulsterbus operated all the normal services with just 1200 duties. It had become the first bus company in the British Isles to move to one man operation, a development which laid the foundations for its future success. It has one of the youngest vehicle fleets in the public transport industry.
There was a need to standardise as much as possible thereby reducing the difficult and cost of maintenance. The decision was taken to standardise mainly on Leyland product; the Bristol RE for urban routes, the Bristol LH for rural services and the Leopard for mult purpose use. With the introduction of one person-operated buses the company adopted the Setright Speed Model - a more advanced ticketing machine.
The introduction of decimalisation in 1971 added further impetus to the change over. For a time some of the old machines, with modifications, remained in use.

 

In the early 1980's the Almex model A register was intruduced to Ulsterbus, this machine not only issued tickets more quickly but also recorded copies of each ticket issued as well as totalling the cash amounts. In 1988 the Wayfarer Electronic System was adopted by the company and is still in use.
Soon it was decided to expand and in 1970 an interlink service in conjunction with CIE and centred around Athione was introduced. Now Bus Eireann coaches from Belfast and other major centres converged on Athlone offering passengers a convenient change over to continue their Interlink Ireland Journey. There were also cross border services to Dublin and Galway.
 

Also in 1970 the first express route across the Irish Sea to Glasgow via Larne/Stranraer. In those days the coaches went across on the ferry but shipside transfers were established thus saving the cost of ferry transport for the coach. In 1975 when the Belfast/Heysham passenger ferry service was withdrawn Ulsterbus stepped in to provide an express service from Belfast to Blackpool via Stranraer. During peak weekends up to a dozen coaches were used on the route. A year later they headed further south to London. Adult Return fares were then £22; now the fare is £50 return (off-peak) and £60 Return (peak) and operates daily. There are also day trips to many places during the summer and package tours to Southern Ireland.
per week and providing tour commentary and advice to passengers. Most drivers can speak French and German to deal with any minor difficulties which passengers might encounter. Two new tour coaches used on European holidays have 46 seat interiors instead of the usual 49 as this gives passengers more comfort and leg room. Each coach boasts full air- conditioning, double glazing, videos, a toilet, drink dispensor, fridge, curtains and, of course, seat belts. By taking delivery of a batch of 50 Mark lv Gold Liner Express coaches, which offer passengers another step up in the luxury stakes, IJlsterbus brought its’ fleet of Goldliner coaches to 110. Fitted with tinted double glazing, an auxiliary heating system, seat belts and have additional roll-over protection for added passenger safety.
 

Tours to sporting fixtures were introduced such as Premier League Football and Cheltenham Races. Ulsterbus planned a “Have A Go” day at Nutts Corner’s facility for Transport Training. It was extended by two extra days because of demand. More than 450 women took their turn at the wheel of a bus and this resulted in an increase in driver applications from women from 3% to 100% . Low floor buses for the disabled and mothers with buggies have been welcomed. Reduced smoking area is another welcome policy. Newcastle became the first depot to be fully computerised in January 1996
.Public transport has come a long way since 1880 with the horse drawn bus to Translink air-conditioned coaches of 2000. A lot of private companies have again started to operate. Indeed there are few places that one cannot travel to in Europe by bus by leaving your local depot.

 

Road Freight Transport

From 1935 to the present day The Northern Ireland Road Transport Board established August 1935 under the auspices of the Road and Railway Transport Act 1935. They acquired the BOC on 1 October 1935 along with HMS Catherwood Ltd and bus operations of the three big companies: the GNR(1), LMS (NCC) and BCDR. In subsequent months virtually all the other independent operators were acquired.
The Board then acquired most of the road freight operators in Northern Ireland between June 1936 and August 1937. They took over some 1100 seperate commercial companies. The Board then proceeded to operate both bus and road freight services across the country. There were a lot of problems to overcome in the early days as compensation payments had to be paid to the outgoing companies in exchange for agreements not to operate in this field again. Most lorry drivers with the companies got the option of a job with the Transport Board in their own depots if possible. Some had to travel to other depots. Each driver had to undergo
the same procedure as the bus drivers before they were employed. Kilkeel depot was allocated a fleet or pool of 10 vehicles of different sizes and makes to cater for every job they were employed to do. There were Octopuses, Beavers, Hippos, Lynx and Badgers (all Leyland diesels); Bedford round- and square-nose type petrol.
 

Most depots including Kilkeel had an American International petrol articulated with a flat body and it was mostly used for long
distance haulage. This lorry was sent down to Kilkeel from Newry as its drivers were unable to drive it and keep it going. Beddoe Hanna, a fitter and driver was the only man able to operate it and make it pull it’s full load of 20 ton drove her.
A Leyland Leopard, typical of 300 vehicles of this type purchased during the early years of the company. Octopuses, Beavers and Hippos were mostly used to draw trailers as they had extra power. One of the Hippo’s fleet number was  90 30 and it was driven by Jim Norris. The flat lorry carried 10 tons and the trailer The drivers got £2 per week extra for driving a lorry with a trailer. Other lorries were fitted with versatile bodies to operate as flat, dropside, or cattle trucks with ramps. They wre used to draw cattle and pigs from the farms to the grading centres and factories. Interestingly the above models were all named after wild animals!
James Henry Cousins from Ballykeel, one the Board’s senior drivers, drove the Bedford square-nose as he collected pigs from the local farms on a weekly basis and conveyed them to the Moy Pig Marketing Board. In the absence of the freight controller he and an senior driver Jim Norris took charge of clerical operations. Interestingly Jim Norris w man who introduced the Transport and General Workers Union into the Kilkeel Depot
 

Other drivers engaged hauling potatoes from the farms to Belfast Docks, fish Kilkeel Harbour and many other jobs that the private operators had carried out before were acquired. Livestock transport was paid for on a headage and distance costing and the driver collected the amount due if it was not paid for when the call was booked; potatoes, fish, and sand were paid for on a tonnage basis. Lorries seldom returned empty from marts as farmers would have animals which they bought to be taken home or even a load of hay which had been bought from the proceeds of sales. Alongside the passenger service Transport Board built up a very large freight network and heavy haulage removals throughout the province. Customers requests for lorries were dealt with promptly and efficiently.
 

Head of the freight department for many years in Kilkeel was Bob Kerr. His clerical staff were George Walker and Tom Neil.
Around 1937 the Transport Board started operating a night freight service province  wide to the Great Northern Railway Station, Grosvenor Road, Belfast. All the depots had their name sign displayed above the despatch and loading areas. Each evening the night, freight collection lorry left Kilkeel around 5 pm direct to Belfast with the collections made earlier around the Kilkeel area by the day driver. When the goods were discharged at destination the lorry was then reloaded and returned to Kilkeel in the early hours of morning and ready for the day driver, John Collins, to deliver the goods around the shops, stores, and garages. He also made collections at the same time of any damaged or returned goods that had to be sent back and the lorry left ready for the night freight driver to take over and head for Belfast again.
 

As the Transport Board’s network spread more and more drivers and helpers were needed to man the fleet to plan for the future and make it a profitable company which they did. The Board were only operational for around 3 years.
In 1939 when the war was declared some immediate changes had to made along with the blackout and fuel shortages to enable them to keep going. At this stage the Transport Board had 15 drivers and six helpers on its payroll and had plenty of work to carry out under the present circumstances. In 1942 when the construction started of the Aerodrome at Creencastle/Cranfield the heavy vehicles were ordered to help with this work collecting materials needed. They also had to continue with their existing freight service. As the need arose lorries from neighbouring depots were drafted in to help with the heavy workload.
By 1944 most of the Board’s involvment on the construction was coming to a close; they were returning to pre-1939 activity. In 1945 the war was also over. Many of the lorries were coming to the end of their useful life being well over ten years of age. Lorries were still hired to local councils for help in road relief schemes - I remember them being on contract to Down County Council when they were doing a road by-pass scheme at Moneydarragh School.
 

CHANGE ON THE WAY
In 1948 Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) was established under the terms of the Transport Act(NI) 1948. It began operating on October 1948 taking over the NIRTB Freight and Passenger Services and continued to operate a similiar service but additionally began the process of acquiring the railway systems which operated entirely within Northern Ireland (BCDR and LMS{NCC}).
The ultimate aim was to provide a full integrated road and rail transport system for passengers and freight. It set out to improve services to the general public by renewing its aged fleet of vehicles and upgrading its buildings throughout the province. The mid-60s heralded the end of the UTA and a further reorganisation of transport. The present public transport organisation originated with Section 47 of the Transport Act (NI) 1967. Under this legislation the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company was established with the object of acquiring and subsequently managing all the assets and liabilities of the former UTA. Road freight also came under the ambit of the 1967 Act. It became Northern Ireland Carriers
Limited and was 50% owned by NITH Co with the other half owned by the British National Freight Company.
In 1981 NITH Co. sold its share of NICL as the era of privatisation dawned. The company now trades under the ownership of the National Freight Consortium and continues to operate in Northern Ireland under the name BRS and has thus never ceased trading.
 

LORRY DRIVERS
The following lorry drivers and helpers were employed in the Kilkeel Depot; they worked for both the Northern Ireland Road Transport Board and the Ulster Transport Authority.
Drivers: James Henry Cousins, John Williamson, Jim Norris, Stanley Cousins, Beddoe
Hanna, John Collins, Charles Collins, Jim Sloane, Thomas Stafford, Thomas McCrink, Louis
Wilson, Hugh D Wilson, Danny McConville, Leonard Hanna, Pat Joe McLoughlin, Jimmy
Bradley, Alfred Morris, and John Ewart.
Helpers: Terence Haughey, Bob McMath, Sam Donaldson, James Kearney and wee Hugh Finnigin (who travelled every morning on the 7 am bus from Newry)
 

Fitters who worked for NIRTB were John Norris, Albert Annett, Willie Grills, Jimmy Campbell, Sam Copeland and Bob Cousins. Interestingly three of them Albert Annett (Man Engineering now carried on by his son Hubert), Jim Campbell (Citroen Garage in Rostrevor
and John Norris (Haulage contractor) went on to become successful business men. Jim Campbell was from Tyrone and came to Kilkeel in 1942 where he worked until 1947 when he started the garage in Rostrevor. Willie Grills stayed on at the Kilkeel Depot until his retirement. Beddoe Hanna transferred to Belfast. Jimmy McKee and Sandy Heaney worked on the wash and grease end of affairs. Samuel Bingham, Ballykeel, was in charge of the fuel and oil distribution for the fleet.
 

BUS DRIVERS AND CONDUCTORS OF THE B.O.C.,
NJ.R.T. BOARD, U.T.A. AND ULSTERBUS
Bus Drivers: Robert Annett, Victor Crozier, John Ewart, Francis Ward, Joe Kindlan,
Sam Hanna, Vincent Clarke, Dick Riddler, Alex Girvan, Leslie Gordon, Alex Gordon,, Dick
Cunningham, Gerry Fitzpatrick, Thomas George Burden, James Peacock, Thomas Wilson,,
Thomas Johnson, Mervyn Thomas, Pat Joe Sloane, George Ewart, Malcolm Small, Laurence
McVeigh, Willie Weir, Jimmy Weir, Felix Valentine, William Martin, Thomas Martin, Louis
Wilson, and Justin Phillips.
Bus Conductors: Benny Cunningham, R J Newell (Bobbie), Jack McVeigh, Millar Neill,
Benny Hardy, Michael Hardy, Paddy Sheilds, Victor Johnson, Bobbie Clements, David
Clements, Stanley Cousins, Paddy McConville, Stanley Cousins, Thomas Beck, Fergus Mcllroy,
George McClory Willie Hanna, William Goss, Cecil Forsythe, Cecil McVeigh, Joe Sloane,
Vincent Cunningham, Sydney Cousins, George Martin, Willie Nugent, Robert McCormick,
Jim Annett, Sam McKee, Willie McKee, Jim McKnight, Liam McKeever, Willie Newell, Bertie
Annett, Robbie Wilson, Kevin Phillips and Charlie Davidson, who became an Inspector and later transferred to Ballynahinch Depot.
It has been a pleasure to recall the men who manned the vehicles in the boom days of the buses and lorries.
 

KILKEEL DEPOT 2000
One person Operator/Drivers: Robert Ewart, James Hanna, Andrew Newell, Joy Patterson, John Graham, Herbert Herron, Martin O’Rourke, and Jim Wilson
With only 8 Translink employees based at Kilkeel Depot today, this represents a big change from the early days.


 

MOURNE SAND
First Sand Pits in Mourne from 1914 and
Sand Hauliers to present 2000

The Names of owners, operators below are in addition to those already mentioned in block making. In the early years several farmers made openings on the lands to extract sand and gravel for their use and later for sale to the public. The topsoil stripping operations were carried out manually, especially in pits with shallow excavations, using a horse and soil slipe to remove the topsoil from the working areas. The known list of sandpit operators before, during
The successful operation of a sandpit requires skill, knowledge of plant machinery, forward planning and above all, capital investment, during and after World War 2 will be covered in a circular trip around Mourne, starting at Dunavan. From 1914 William Morris, Dunavan, Willie John Wilson (a well-known farmer carter) operated a sandpit from Morris’s ground. Robert Niblock and Sandy McKee worked from the Scrogg Road sandpits.
 

In 1930 James & William Morgan - Dunavil opened and operated a small sandpit their land along the shore bank. The sand and gravel was manually loaded. In 1933-34 Morgan Bros. supplied the contractor of the new concrete roadway and sea wall on Rostrevor - Warrenpoint road with all the concreting sand he needed.
In the 30s Michael Greene - Leestone, Maghereagh discovered sand in his back garden he carried the sand up the bank in a potato basket to load up the horses and carts. years later his son Thomas started to extract sand from the farm and he is now one largest sand merchants operating in Mourne today -

The Blackford Sand Company L
In 1935 Patrick Doran - Grange opened and operated a sandpit on his land close Cranfield School. He hauled his sand to Newry and other places in his small lorry. when they started to construct the aerodrome large amounts of sand was taken from ‘Pats Pit, later years when he retired, it was taken over by Messrs Hanna & Linton and operated daily by Harry Cunningham. Later this land was reclaimed for farmland.
Between 1935-1943 William Nicholson ‘Laurel Cottage’ - Derryoge opened and operated a sandpit at the rear of his dwelling using sand skips which ran on a rail track up the road,the sand skips were loaded up manually at the pit face. The skips were then discharged beside the steam operated 1O RB Face Shovel. The sand was loaded onto his Commer Thornycroft lorries and hauled to Belfast amongst other places. His drivers were Speers and Norman Nicholson. The 1ORB driver was Sam Gordon. His workforce included Sam Graham, Jim Cousins (DID), Jim Bradley, Willie & Philip Clarke (Attical), Willie Higgins (Millbay), John Hiland, Peter Frost and John Collins.
 

SAND AND GRAVEL PITS AND SAND MERCHANTS
IN MOURNE FROM THE 1940s

In the early years machinery was very primitive and the work labour intensive. Around the late 40s sand screeners and loading equipment were first used. The Chaseside and Muirhill Loading Shovels were the most common used and the manual screening and loading of lorries had disappeared. Listed below are the names of the landowners and merchants who opened or operated sandpits from 1940.
Patrick Fitzpatrick, Road Contractor and Sand Merchant, Mount Panther, Dundrum opened James Gordon’s pit, Mullartown for the extraction of sand in 1941. He was supplying and delivering concreting sand for the construction of runways and hardstands at Bishopscourt Aerodrome. Mr Fitzpatrick was delivering approx. 1500 tons per week. Mr Gordon received 4 old pence per ton, later this amount increased to 1 shilling - some change today. Further up the main road in the same townland W.D. Irvine Sand Merchant, Portadown opened Ira Orr’s pit and operated there for some time before moving down the road to James Gordon’s pit.
We leave Mullartown and travel up to Attical. Again in 1941-42, George Speers and the Sloan Family, Sandy Brae Road, Ballymageogh Upper, opened up sandpits on their land to supply sand to Greencastle aerodrome which was under construction at the time.
Around the same time several other landowners opened up pits on their land. They include Archie Gordon and Sandy McKee, Kilkeel. Sandy operated from James McKee’s land on the Scrogg Road and Marmions pit at Lurganconary. Joe McKay opened up a sandpit in Lurganreagh. Messrs Baird and Haugh, Sand Merchants, Kilkeel opened and operated sandpits and washing plants at Jim Mitchell’s, Derryoge; Bairds, Drumcro Road; Riverside; Moneydarraghmore; Dunavil; Convent Land and Flanagan’s Land, Belmont Road and Paddy White’s Derryoge. Messrs Sloan and McAvoy operated from Marmions Land, Lurganconary and Paddy Corr’s land, Derryoge. C E Stev
enson’s first pit was James Gordon’s pit,
 Mullartown, in 1948. Quinn’s pit Maghereagh; Patterson’s pit and washer, Cranfield; Willie Morris, Dunavan and Willie Hanna’s, Moor Road; Ira Orr’s Mullartown and many others to the present.
 

Ken Skillen, Glasdrumman worked from his uncle’s, James Gordon’s pit, Mullartown for several years until retirement. Kenny Hobson, Lisburn Sand Merchant operated out of most sandpits in Moume, including Patrick McCartan’s, Derryoge. The Kilkeel Sand Company directors were Jim and Sonny McCulla, Kilkeel who operated sandpits on Doran Bros. Land, Lurganreagh and James Campbell’s land Maghereagh. When they retired their sand trade was taken over by A H Patterson, Cranfield and he continued to operate from pits at Mill Road, Annalong; Joe McKays, Lurganreagh; McBurney’s pit, Derryoge and from his own land and McKee’s land near Cranfield School. Eddie Wilson, Sand Merchant, operated sandpits at  New Cut, Riverside; McBurrtey s, Derryoge; Lurganreagh  pit Maghereagh, 1951. and on his own land. Whitewater Sand Company Ltd directors, McQuillan Bros., Newry operated pits at Tullyframe and on the Island Road, Attical as well as Derryoge.

 Willie Annett
 (now deceased), his family still operate from his sandpits at Derryoge and other places. Gilbert Patterson’s (now deceased) sandpit is now closed. Edward Carville operates sandpits on his own land. Norman McKee operated from Sam Grills sandpit at Maghereagh in the 60s before moving to America.
Very recently 5 new sandpits have been opened in Moume. On the Leestone Road one is owned by Les Campbell and the other by David Campbell. Sean O’Hanlon, Moor Road has opened a new sandpit on his farm. Rodney Patterson, Cranfield Road has opened a new sandpit on the Scrogg Road on land owned by James McKee. The “Oak Grove Sand Company Ltd.” owned and operated by William McBurney, Derryoge have reopened the sandpit that Edward Wilson and Albert Patterson operated in the early years.

 

SAND HAULIERS FROM THE 1940’s AND 1950's
C E Stevenson & Sons., Kilkeel, Huddleson Bros., Carryduff hauled sand for years to Belfast and other places. Bobbie drove a Leyland Beaver and when he was driving through Ballymartin stood out on the mudguard - he took some chances. His brother drove a AEC Mercury and drove at a speed normal for a heavily loaded lorry Other sand hauliers included Paddy Megoran and P J Walls whose driver was Jim Truesdale, Newcastle. He drove Fodens and AEC lorries hauling sand from the Mourne sand pits to his building contracts in Belfast amongst other places.
Other sand hauliers in the 50s were Peter Cunningham, Charles Campbell, Willie Haugh, Messrs. Hanna & Linton all from Kilkeel; Ernest Newell, Ballymartin; Alex Robins and Wesley Chambers, Annalong; Sean Fitzpatrick, Moyadd; Wilfred Rogers, Valley road, Hugh Ward and Joe Maguire, Newcastle; Willie McGreevy, Glasdrumman; Sean Doran, Dunnywater; William Trohear, Dundrum; Joe Maguire, Carrigenagh; Messrs W. Stevenson  & W Robinson, Belfast. Messrs. Bovaird and Ferguson, Ballynahinch operated sad pits up the Sandy Brae Road, Ballymageough Upper, and from Joe McKay’s land at Lurganreagh
 

KILKEEL SAND HAULIERS FROM
THE 1960’s - PRESENT

Phillips Bros., Maghereagh; Willie John Annett, Moor Road; Willie John Hanna, Ballinran
Road; Willie McAtee, Carrigenagh; Sammy Gamble, Harbour Road; Ernest Coffey, Cranfield road
 Messrs W J Annett and Charles Haugh, Harbour Road; Jarleth McKibbin, Leestone
Road; Eugene McManus, Dunavil; Seamus Sloan, Dunavil; Messrs Niall Quinn and
John Annett, Carrigenagh; Huston Annett, Brackenagh; David Clements, Newcastle
Hanna Bros. (Sonny & Eric), Harbour Road; Andrew Annett, Moor Road; Wilson
Derryoge; A H Patterson, Cranfield Road; John Campbell, Newcastle Street; RAS Transport
Aughnahoory Road; Patterson Bros., Ballynahatten Road; O’Neill Bros., Glasdrumman
Ivan Chambers, Annalong.