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Banbridge-Piggot & Co.?s Linen Merchants & Bleachers Directory-1824

Ed.C. Clibborn, George Crawford, Ballydown.

Thos. Crawford, Ballievy.

Walter Crawford, Ballievy House.

Crawfords & Lindsay, Ballydown.

James Foot, Banville.

Wm. Hayes & Son, Millmount.

John Kelly, Eliza Hill, Joseph Law, Coose.

Samuel Law, Hazel Bank, John Lockhart and Hugh, Clare.

Thos. Lockhart, Larchfield.

Hans M'Murdy, Ballievy.

Francis Mulligan, Tullyconnaught.

Gilbert Mulligan, Ballydown.

J.C. Mulligan, Charleville.

John Mulligan, Tullyconnaught.

John Mulligan, Parkmount.

David Murphy, Linenhill.

Samuel Russell, Balluely.

Brice Smyth (i) Edenderry : (i) Greatgrandfather of D. Wilson Smyth, D.L., Brookfield Banbridge,

and Malone Park, Belfast.

John Waugh, Whitehill.

Wm. Weir, Lenaderg.

James Woods, Ballyvarley.

Moses Woods, Ballyvarley House.

Hugh Dunbar is recorded as a thread manufacturer.

Andrew Mc Clelland as a linen and cotton manufacturer.

David Stewart, Rosehall, as a flax merchant.

The Belfast Post Office Directory of 1843-4 includes the new names of James Carson, thread manufacturer; the address of Brice Smyth & Sons is now given as Brookfield ; George Chapman, linen manufacturer; Hugh Dunbar, linen manufacturer, has the address Huntley Glen; Frederick Hayes, linen manufacturer, Seapatrick; Charles Lockhart, thread manufacturer, Rosehall; David Lockhart, thread manufacturer, Halls Mill; Jonathan Matchett, thread manufacturer, Leeburn ; John Mc Clelland, linen manufacturer, Banview; Wm. Robinson, linen manufacturer, Rockview (1) ; John Smyth & Co., linen

manufacturers, Milltown ; Wm. Waugh, linen manufacturer, Seapatrick.


In Slater's 1846 Directory additional information is to be found, Francis B. Mc William, flax merchant; Edw. C. Clibborn as a flour miller, linen merchant and bleacher; James Carson's address is Church Street and Scarva Street; Joshua B. Finnett & Co., Banford ; John Finlay, Bridge Street ; Samuel and Thomas Haughton, Banford ; Fred. Wm. Hayes is a flax spinner ; McClelland & Sons, Bellemount; M'Clelland, Ferguson & Co., Seapatrick ; James McClelland & Co., Banville; John and George Mulligan, Ballydown. The thread merchants are Stewart Craig, Church Street, and Robert McClelland & Co Bellemount. At the Great Exhibition held in London, 1852, the first prize for diapers went to Clibborn & Co. of Banbridge. In Dublin Exhibition, 1853, we find (McCall's " Ireland and her Staple Manufactures") Mr. Lindsay (2) of Ashfield, and Messrs. Harrison of Dromore, showing pleated linen for shirt fronts that aroused much admiration. Their fabrics were looked on as remarkable evidence of the improvement in handloom manufactures. Other exhibitors are mentioned from Banbridge whose

names Mr. McCall does not give. At the Great Fair held in London, 1862, M'Call enumerates among the exhibitors of linens Fenton, Son & Co; Dunbar, Dickson & Co.

(1) Now known as The Rock, Dromore Road.

(2) Cousin of the Lmdsays of Tullyhenan and Moorlands.


Dickson & Co., Brown & Liddell, H, Matier & Co., Clibborn, Hill & Co. Among the spinners he mentions the (I highly attractive show of yarns and a still more diversified display of threads " by Dunbar, Mc Master & Co, McCall gives high praise to Hugh Dunbar, a Banbridge man, the founder of this firm -- "Fifty years ago (ie., about 1805) that now famous seat of industry (Gilford) was a mere village surrounded by a wide range of bleach-fields, manufacturers' residences and weavers dwellings . . . Sometime about that period Mr. Dunbar, founder of the famous firm of Dunbar, Mc Master & Co,

commenced the manufacture of thread in the town of Gilford. Like the elder Mr. Barbour, this gentleman was of the old school. Steady and persevering in his business habits, he looked on success as the goal of his ambitions and permitted no doubt or difficulty to stand in the way. But while he pushed onwards and exercised judgment as well as enterprise in the details of his affairs, he never forgot that the workpeople in his employment had positive claims on his liberality."


Mr. Dunbar was baptised in the old Presbyterian Church, January 23rd, 1789, the son of Robert Dunbar and Mary McWilliam. He died at Huntley, 17th June, 1847. His obitualy notice in the Irish Unitarian Magazine states "few men in the middle rank of life have left more decisive or creditable memorials than he, of superior talents, judicious enterprise, unbending integrity of principle, enlarged philanthropy and general usefulness". He was extraordinarily generous. He is described as giving princely subscriptions to public relief funds at a time of distress. "He had a list of fully four hundred

paupers whom he weekly served at his own house with pecuniary aid". (Perhaps we may find here the origin of the phrase "Banbridge Beggars.") And it was " while in the act of dispensing his alms " that he died. The piece of money he was about to give was found still in his hand after death. In 1844 he laid the foundation stone of the present Unitarian Church. He was unmarried. It is claimed that the first person to make weaving by steampower a success in Belfast was Mr. Abraham Walker Craig. He waa born in Tandragee in 1813 and served his apprenticeship with Messrs. Brice Smyth & Sons, Brookfield. Going to Belfast he owned " Craig's Mill " which with his Falls Factory was merged in the Northern Spinning & Weaving Co. now represented by the New Northern. Other distinguished apprentices of Brookfield were Sir John Preston and Henry Matier (H, Matier & Co.) In writing of the linen trade of Banbridge homage must always be paid to the River Bann that made it possible. The natural supply of water in this river has been preserved and regulated by engineering skill. A paper read

in 1874 before the British Association by John Smyth, jr., C.E., F.C.S., of Milltown, gives a lucid account of the work of the Bann Reservoir Company.


He quotes Sir Robert Kane that " the Upper Bann is the most fully economised river in Ireland "from its source in the Deer's Meadow to Moyallon flour mill is 31 miles long. There is no record of when first mills were erected on it ; some of the weir dams found in old maps seem very ancient. From the junctions of the Muddock River to the outlet from Corbet Lough the fall is 441 feet and from the latter point to the level of the tail water at Moyallon mill the fall is 168 feet. In 1772 he estimates there were 26 bleach mills on the river. The undershot wheels, however, only utilised about 25 p.c, of the theoretical useful effect of the falls. About 1833 Mr. Law of Hazelbank applied to Sir William Fairbairn, F.R.S,, the celebrated hydraulic engineer, He erected an iron breast wheel which was then a great improvement. It was used for driving linen beetling machines. Afterwards Sir W. Fairbairn erected a similar one at Seapatrick (Mr. Hayes) for driving beetling engines and power looms. In 1835 the principal mill-owners took steps to procure a more regular supply of water. The Committee appointed

was Thos. Crawford, Geo. Mulligan, Edw. Clibborn, Rich. Hayes, Hugh Dunbar, Fred. Hayes, John Smyth sn., Samuel Law, Benj. Haughton, Isaac Stoney, John Christie, Thos.Wakefield jr. They consulted Sir W. Fairbairn and J. F. Bateman, F.R.S., who in their report advised the construction of two impounding reservoirs, Lough Island Reavy and Deer's Meadow, with an auxiliary one at the Corbet Lough. The Bann Reservoir Co. was then. formed and the Lough Island Reavy reservoir

constructed in 1839.


The Company was involved in ruinous lawsuits by farmers whose lands were flooded. The appeals went to the House of Lords and were regarded as legal precedents. The Corbet Reservoir proved a difficult undertaking and was not finished until 1847. " The Deer's Meadow Reservoir was abandoned as the works were of a heavy character and the gathering ground being small it was feared there would not be sufficient water to fill it." Lough Island Reavy cost for engineering works 15,000 and for land 6,000. Mr. Smyth gives the following list of weirs occupied in 1874 Ballyroney :

Mrs. Murphy, corn and scutch ; Linen Hill.

Alex. Porter, corn and scutch; Ardbrin.

Wm. Kirk, scutch; Corbet.

John Simms, corn and beetling; Ballievy.

George Crawford, beetling ; Lisnaree.

Thomas E. Henry, scutch ; Ballydown.

G. & J. Lindsay, bleaching and beetling ; Tullyear (Roselawn, now the property of T. N. Andersen)

James Mc William, yarn bleach ; Banhridge.

James Mc William, bleaching, beetling and corn; Millmount.

James Mc Millam, bleaching; Seapatrick.

William Hayes, flax spinning ; Milltown.

W. Smyth and John Smyth, jr., bleaching ; Lenaderg.

W. Smyth and John Smyth, jr., beetling ; Banville.

W. Smyth and John Smyth, jr., beetling ; Hazelbank.

Mrs.McTier and Miss Law, flax spinning; Knocknagor.

W. Uprichard, scutch and corn ; Springvale.

W. and H. Uprichard, bleaching ; Millpark.

W & H. Uprichard, bleaching ; Banford (now owned by Thos. Sinton & Co.)

T Haughton and J. Jaffe, bleaching ; Mountpleasant.

George Mullin, beetling ; Glen Mills.

George Mullin, flour; Thornhill.

H. D. & J, G, McMaster, beetling ; Gilford.

H. D, & J, G. M' Master, corn and spinning ; Moyallen.

David Mercier, flour.


The tendency of later years is for the manufacture, spinning and bleaching to be concentrated in fewer and larger firms. The old firms of Smyth of Brookfield and Smyth of Milltown still continue. In McCall's " Ireland and her Staple Manufactures " (1855) there is an interesting incident recorded of Brice Smyth who had died previously. He "was another instance of the acuteness which want of sight imparts to those who labour under that privation. This gentleman had been brought up in the midst of manufacturing enterprise, and so admirably schooled was his sense of touch that he could have told the 'set' of a linen web by running his hand over it. He was also able to examine the brown webs as they were brought into his warehouse by the weavers, and in doing so he could have formed an accurate judgment as to whether or not the cloth had been correctly woven. On one occasion, and when busy attending to the department of the business, a weaver who was in the brown warehouse stole some hanks of weft, which had been lying on the counter beside him. Mr. Smyth immediately went to another part of the concern and called on an assistant to seize the delinquent, stating that he suspected some article had been stolen. The man was charged with having taken part of the yarn from off the counter, and when searched a parcel of weft was found concealed under his coat. Some time afterwards Mr. Smyth was asked how he became aware of what was going on, and he replied that he knew by the man holding in his breath for a few moments that all was not right." John Smyth, brother of Brice Smyth of Brookfield, founded the Milltown bleaching works not later than 1824. He was born in 1798.

People named Crawford were his predecessors and had a corn mill.John married Anna McClelland and had a family of twelve children. He lived to the age of ninety-two years. He built Milltown House, and also Bellfield for his cousins, the Weirs of Lenaderg Cottage. His son, William, started linen manufacturing and with his brother, John founded the present firm of Wm. Smyth & Co. He married Anna, daughter of Andrew Dickson, sister of Mrs. Thomas Ferguson of Edenderry. John was an able engineer whose paper read at the British Association has already been referred to. This John Smyth married Florence, daughter of William Haughton of Roebuck, Co. Dublin. Another son, George, graduated in Trinity College, Dublin, entered the Indian Civil Service in which he finally held the high position of Commissioner in the Punjaub. He married Helen, daughter of Thomas Ferguson of Edenderry. For an account of his brilliant son, Gerald, another son, Brice, after graduating in T.C.D., became a well known physician in. Belfast. His son is Malcolm Brice Smyth, M.B., of University Square, Belfast. James, the third son of John Smyth, sen., was the father of the present owner of Milltown, J. Douglas Smyth.


The Brewery waa originally built in 1840 by the Johnstons of Lurgan. Ithas passed through several hands and is now unoccupied, In the year 1853 the Malcolmsons of Waterford took it over for cloth bleaching and finishing. They had then a warehouse in Belfast; a Mr. Fennell was their manager. James McWilliam seems to have been associated with them. In any case he became their successor in the ownership of these bleaching works. Mr McWilliam lived in the house on the Newry Road now occupied by Mr. W.A. McCaldin, It used to be known as the Ball Alley, and there he manufactured thread. At one time he owned or carried on several places in Banbridge, including the Clibborn's linen works, Millmount bleaching works, and the Ballydown bleaching works.


James Anderson & Co. are now the proprietors of the last firm.  William Waugh started his factory in 1830. William Walker who was his partner built in 1865 the power-loom factory. It occupies partly the site of the old Clibborn factory, Prospect Terrace having been erected where the Clibborn warehouse stood. After Walker's death Hamilton and Robinson bought the business out of Chancery. It was afterwards taken over by Messrs. Robinson and Cleaver, the well-known Belfast firm, whose linens are famous through the world. The Bann Weaving Co. was built at Belmont by Robert McClelland & Sons in 1865. It is now disused.


The Edenderry factory of Messrs. Thomas Ferguson & Co, has contributed greatly to the modern prosperity of Banbridge. It employs large numbers of the residents in the town and district. Thomas Ferguson, the founder, was born in 1820 and served his apprenticeship with Brice Smyth of Brookfield, like so many other leaders of the Ulster linen industry. About the year 1846 he began business in the hand-loom manufacturing. (This was before the power-loom era set in). Some ten years

later he secured the first portion of the property on which the present works stand. In 1866 he built his powerloom works and made extensions to them on two subsequent occasions. In 1883 the firm was merged into a limited liability company and has so continued. In conjunction with Samuel Lament & Son, Ltd., of Belfast and Ballymena, this firm has lately become possessed of the Ballievy bleaching works and are carrying on bleaching there in spacious new buildings with modern machinery. Several smaller firms in previous times were engaged in Banbridge in the making of linen, among them,

Robinson's of the Rock. The house that is promineutly seen as one approaches Banbridge from Belfast was formerly part of their drying lofts. It now belongs to Mrs. Walsh, widow of the late John Walsh.