Smyths Of The Bann
written by Paul McCandless
Brookfield House was built around 1760, the main front being added probably around 1835, most likely to the designs of the architect Thomas Jackson. The first Smyth to live in the house would have been Brice (2). It is a two-storey, five bay house, the exterior of which is harled. A Plat-band separates the upper and lower storeys, while the windows of both floors are simply silled and recessed, retaining their glazing bars. The roof is hipped with over-hanging eaves supported on paired console brackets. Brookfield House has a single-storey Doric portico with fluted columns and a fine Adam doorway with beautifully glazed sidelights and fanlight. There are five downstairs rooms and eight bedrooms. Access to the front door is on ground level, unlike the entrances to Milltown House and Belmont House which are approached by steps.
Brookfield House was originally called Drumnagally House as it is situated in the townland of that name. However, at some point during its history the name changed to Brookfield, Smyth family lore relating that William Smyth's second wife refused to live in the house under its old name. However, the name Brookfield was in existence in 1843 and as William didn't marry Jane, his second wife, until after 1871 there would seem to be no truth in this, though it does make for a good story.
Also worthy of mention are the outbuildings attached to the house. There are old single and two-storey buildings comprising a byre, garages, boiler house, piggeries, tractor shed, two coalhouses and loft and a small single-storey range of general-purpose stores. In the inner courtyard there is a building with stone steps leading to it. This room had originally been used by Brice to receive and check the cloth woven by the cottage weavers whom he employed. It was later converted to a billiards room by William Anderson (Jumbo) Smyth and once displayed many sporting pictures, especially of the hunt.
Of particular interest is a two-storey building in the outer courtyard which is reputed to have been a school, the one-storey building beside it having been the principal's house.
The main entrance to the house was from the Scarva Road between two delightful, but now very dilapidated, gate lodges that were lived in until the 1980s. Heavy wrought-iron rails surround the lodges. Vera Stephenson (nee Smyth) remembered their groom living in one of the lodges at one stage and raising a family of six children in the cramped surroundings. Other families who at one time or another lived in the lodges were the Ewarts, Andersons and Giffms, the Giffins being the last to occupy the houses. The avenue leading to the house, which is lined with mature beech trees, was also the main access to the factory. There was also access to the house and factory along Brookfield Road (off the Drumnagally Road at Smyth's Hill) on which the Andersons, who were factory managers, lived in a house known as Brookfield Cottage (long since demolished).
Like many of these houses, Brookfield House was self-sufficient. It had a three acre walled garden surrounding it, the wall reputedly being a famine wall built during the potato famine to give employment. The ornamental gardens surrounding the house were also of note. There still stands a grotto-like icehouse built entirely of stone into the side of a bank with open windows and doorway, the roof of which rises to a point. There was also a beautiful little summerhouse (now demolished) with Gothic-style windows, a small fireplace and benches around the walls. A member of the Ewart family, who lived in one of the twin gate lodges, shared the summerhouse with the Smyths!
The stream to the milldam flowed through the gardens just yards from the summerhouse and was crossed by a little wooden walkway. There was also a Monkey Puzzle tree, as at Belmont House, as well as other mature trees and many Rhododendron bushes. At the edge of the gardens were duck ponds (built by William, son of Wilson), which through time became overgrown, and an ornate road bridge that crossed the stream on the avenue.
Although in the ownership of the Smyth family for over three centuries, for a brief period during the Second World War part of the house was occupied by Colonel James Ferguson whose wife, Jean Gordon, was a niece of Wilson's wife Vera (nee Gordon). Wilson and Vera were living in Belfast at this time.
In 1993 the house was placed on the market by Joan Smyth after the death of her husband and consequently was purchased by a local farmer with the idea of turning it into a hotel/guesthouse. However, this never materialised and the house was sold on to the present occupants. Thus ended the connection of one of the oldest linen families in Ulster with Brookfield House.
ORIGIN OF THE FAMILY
Brice (8) claimed that the family's origins were French Huguenot, though this has yet to be proved.
It is known for certain that the Smyths were in Ireland in the 17th Century as in 1663 a Brice Smyth was recorded on the Hearth-Money Roll for the area of Derriaghy. The first mention of a Smyth in the Banbridge area was Brice (1) who was farming in the townland of Ballyvally in 1728. He had 14½ acres, which are recorded as having been within the estate of Solomon Whyte. On his death in 1750 his lands transferred to John Preston.
Brice (1) had three sons - Andrew, James and Brice (2) who were listed in the 1766 census as living in the townland of Lisnafiffy. James had at least one child, a daughter named Catherine, who married William McCrum.
Brice (2) and Andrew both had sons named Brice. Andrew's son Brice died in 1805 leaving a son also called Andrew, who died in 1818.
On 13th May 1769 James wrote his last will and testament of which the following are extracts :
"I. James Smyth of Drumnagally, do hereby leave to my granddaughter Agnes all household furniture; she is also to pay my funeral costs. She is to get two fields adjoining my kitchen garden and lying along William McElroy's march (possibly marsh), with my dwelling house and that part of my kitchen garden that John Lowry now possesses; also the field at the back of my dwelling house and where the little byre stands at the end of my dwelling house, with the half of the moss that I possess and all the meadow and all my potatoes and flax and two parts of the fields.
Agnes is to pay to her mother 11s/4d, due the sum of ground lease to be paid yearly, providing they don't live together.
I bequeath the third part of the two fields, that are to be set at the end of five years, to be given to Agnes. If she dies, land to go to William McCrum (my son-in-law) and his heirs.
Agnes is not to marry without consent of the executors (Andrew Morrow and John Hunter).
I allow John Lowry the other dwelling house to be set with the two fields above mentioned.
I bequest all the remaining part of my farm to my son-in-law William McCrum and my daughter Catherine McCrum. William McCrum is to receive no benefit out of the two fields, that are to be set for the space of five years.
Agnes is to have free road to pass and repass to the water and moss, on whatever road she stands in need of without trouble or molestation for her cattle.
All my body clothing is to go to William McCrum.
John Hunter of Mullabrack and Andrew Morrow of Drumnagally to be the executors."
James did not sign the document but made his mark in the form of a diamond, the will having been witnessed by Brice (2), Andrew and John McAlester.
There is a recording in the Presbyterian congregation register on 2nd December 1770 of the marriage of a Brice Morrow to Agnes Smyth, possibly the son or grandson of Andrew Morrow, one of the
executors of James' will. It seems too much of a coincidence for this not to be the Agnes who is mentioned previously.
Brice (2) had four children - Brice (3), Hugh, John and Katherine.
John married and had seven children - Mary, Jane, Robert, John, William, Brice and Bowman. Nothing more is known of John and his family.
Brice (3) was born in 1764 and married Agnes Stirling on 21st January 1785.
They had five children - Robert (who moved to Strabane), John, Brice (4), Frances (who married William Crothers of Acton, County Armagh) and Elizabeth (who married in 1808 Samuel Hughes of Strabane, County Tyrone). Elizabeth and Samuel had eight children - Robert (3/1/1810), Samuel (17/8/1811), Henry (9/2/1813), Ann Jane (29/10/1817), John (2/3/1820), Elizabeth (1/12/1823), Joseph (16/12/1827), Rebecca (13/2/1830).
On 23rd December 1836 Samuel Hughes (Jnr), then aged 25 years, leased a farm of land in the townland of Strabane, Parish of Leckpatrick. This was for a term of 31 years or alternatively for the natural lives of the said mentioned person and the other names on the official document which were: James Hamilton Humphreys of Milltown, Strabane, aged 19 years; Joseph Hughes, aged nine years and Brice (5) Smyth, aged six years, he being the son of Brice (4). Unfortunately Brice (5) died on 31st October 1836 and why his name remained on this document is unknown.
Brice (3) died on 27th February 1829, aged 65 years, and was buried in the First Presbyterian Non-Subscribing graveyard, Banbridge. Agnes died in July 1838 aged 69 years.
Robert, son of Brice (3) and Agnes, moved to Strabane along with his sister Elizabeth. He had at least one son named Henry who later started a weaving business in Belfast with his cousin Henry Weir forming 'Smyth, Weir & Co.' Their office was at 11 Donegal Place and later at 1 Donegal Square West. These were the Weirs for whom John Smyth of Milltown built Bellfield House.
Henry Weir died in 1856. A document of Bankruptcy between John Smyth of Milltown, Thomas Weir and Henry Smyth of Belfast was lodged in Dublin on 24th June 1858. This may well have been the reason why the firm closed. Afterwards, John Preston took Henry Smyth into partnership forming 'Preston, Smyth & Co' linen merchants. Their office was at 1 Donegal Square West until 1871 when Sir John built a fine, new warehouse at the corner of Donegal Square South and Adelaide Street.
Henry Smyth lived at 8 Upper Crescent, Belfast and then at Cairnburn Villa, Sydenham, dying in 1880.
Brice (4), son of Brice (3), was born in 1796. He married Lucinda Running in Church Street Unitarian Church, Banbridge on 11th December 1829. Lucinda came from a County Armagh family. A sister of Lucinda's married Alexander Preston, son of the John Preston who obtained the farm belonging to Brice (1). Alexander's son, called John after his grandfather, was a prominent member of Belfast society, twice becoming Lord Mayor (1877 and 1878) and eventually receiving a knighthood. Alexander married twice, his second marriage being to Constance Cooke, daughter of George and Alice Cooke (nee Smyth of Banbridge).
At the age of 12 years Brice (4) was blinded by smallpox. This did not, however, stop him from pursuing a very successful career in the linen industry. He was to become a very renowned teacher in the linen business, his sense of touch being second to none. The inexperienced would not have known that as he rubbed his hand over the linen cloth he was actually using his fingernail to count the number of threads per inch in the cloth. On many occasions he would check the quality of the brown webs as they were being brought into the factory. Brice (4) taught many of the future linen merchants their trade.
An interesting incident took place one day in the factory, according to information contained in McCalfs 'Ireland and Her Staple Manufactures' - "On one occasion, and while busy attending to the business of the department, a weaver stole some hanks of weft that had been lying on the counter beside him. Brice (4) 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 Brice (4) was asked how he became aware of what was going on and he replied that he knew by the man holding his breath for a few moments that all was not right."
Brice (4) and Lucinda had five children - Brice (5), born on 11th October 1830 and died on 31st October 1836 aged six years; Margaret, born in 1833; William, born in 1835; John, born in 1838 and Lucinda, born on 3rd June 1841 and died on 26th December 1857, aged 16 years. The exact date of John's birth is unknown, but his baptism occurred on 8th March 1838. John emigrated to America and married Louise Atteu, with whom he had a daughter, Henrietta.
Margaret married Dr John Hawthorne in Clonallon Church of Ireland, Warrenpoint, County Down on 10th April 1862. John attended the College of Surgeons at Edinburgh in 1857. He was registered on 15th January 1859 and received his MD in Ireland in 1861. Margaret and John had, as far as is known, six children - Lucy, who married Briton H Richardson, a merchant from Brooklyn, New York in Holy Trinity Church of Ireland, Banbridge on 26th January 1886; Margaret Anna Dickson, born 29th November 1877 and who died aged six years on 6th December 1883; Louisa Atha, born in May 1875 and who died on 8th December 1883 aged eight years; William Brice, who died aged 26 years on 16th January 1897, and Helen and Robert. Most of the children are buried in Scarva Street Presbyterian Church graveyard, Banbridge. Margaret died on 12th May 1897 aged 64 years.
Brice (4) died on 31st May 1851 aged 55 years. He did not live to see his firm go through its most prosperous stage brought about by the American Civil War. The blockading by the confederates of the Southern State ports in America meant that raw cotton could not be sent to Europe and it was during this period that linen became sought after as never before, filling the void left by cotton's unavailability. Increased production and increased prices brought great prosperity to the local linen trade. Lucinda, wife of Brice (4) died on 30th August 1880 aged 71 years and was buried in First Presbyterian Non-Subscribing graveyard, Banbridge.
William, the second son of Brice (4) and Lucinda, was born on 11th February 1835. He was married twice; firstly to Catherine Anderson, daughter of William Anderson of Ballymena. Together they had two sons - William Anderson (better known as Jumbo and mentioned more fully in the Belmont section) and Brice (7) of Whitehouse, County Antrim. Catherine died on 8th February 1871 aged 50 years and was buried in First Presbyterian Non-Subscribing graveyard, Banbridge.
William's second marriage was to Jane Robinson Wilson, who was born on 3rd July 1854, the daughter of the Rev Dr David Wilson DD of Limerick who was twice Moderator of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (1865-1867). The Rev Wilson was married twice, secondly to a Miss Bannatyne of Limerick thus the name being used by both his son and granddaughter. William and Jane had five children - David Wilson (Wilson), Edmund Fitzgerald (Teddy), Robertson Stewart (Robbie), Lucinda Evelyn (Eva) and Jessie Bannatyne (Jessie).
The names Bannatyne, Edmund Fitzgerald and David Wilson were all in honour of Jane Robinson Wilson's brothers, a brief description of each follows:
Edmund Fitzgerald Bannatyne Wilson lived at Harrismith, South Africa. He served in the Boer War and later in the First World War as a Major with the 1st South African General Hospital attached to the South African Medical Corps. He died on active service aged 57 years on 17th August 1917 and was buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.
David Wilson, named after his father the Rev Dr David Wilson, lived in Canada where he had worked for the firm 'Whitby, Kirby & Gardner' in Winnipeg. During the First World War he served as a Captain in the 107th Canadian Pioneers. He was born in 1858 and died on 6th December 1927 while visiting Jane at Brookfield House and was interred in their burial plot in Banbridge Municipal Cemetery.
Her other brother was Daniel M Wilson, King's Counsellor. He graduated from Trinity College Dublin as a Barrister, being called to the Bar in 1885 and joining the North-East Circuit. When the First World War broke out he was 52 years old. He joined the 9th Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (Tyrone Volunteers) serving as a 2nd Lieutenant, until he was obliged to resign in 1917 due to ill-health. In 1918 he was elected a Member of Parliament for West Down. He also served on Prime Minister Lloyd George's cabinet. He was appointed Solicitor-General for Ireland in 1919, later becoming attached to the court in Belfast where he was appointed to the Recordership of Belfast. Daniel died about 1921.
William spent all his life in the linen trade, assisting his father in handloom weaving from an early age. In later years power looms were installed and he brought his son Jumbo into the firm as a partner.
William was an extremely devout and loyal member of Scarva Street Presbyterian Church, a photograph of him still hanging in an upstairs room of the church. He led the young men's Bible class, was a Sunday school teacher for over 50 years and was also the Sunday school Superintendent. He served for over 30 years as a Ruling Elder of the church. On one occasion when the Sunday school was to go on its annual outing, bad weather meant the trip had to be cancelled. Rather than see the children disappointed, all were invited to Brookfield House, which was opened for everyone to enjoy. As well as the above, William was also President of Scarva Street School.
In political life he initially belonged to the Conservative Association and acted as its President in 1887 and 1888 before becoming the President of the West Down Unionist Association and President of the Banbridge Unionist Branch. He also held a seat on the Ulster Unionist Council and had the honour of officially welcoming Sir Edward Carson to Banbridge when he visited the town in 1913.
Like many members of the Smyth family he played a prominent role in the Temperance Movement serving as Treasurer of the Band of Hope Temperance Lodge as well as being President of the Total Abstinence Association and Vice-Chairman of the 'Catch-My-Pal' organisation.
Not only did he belong to the above societies, he was also a member of various other organisations, some of which are listed below:
National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
Treasurer of Banbridge Workingmen's Club (1885 and 1889).
A member of the Burial Board.
President of the Cricket and Athletics Clubs (1893).
Representative for Banbridge Electoral Division at Down County Council.
The Poor Law and Sanitary Board (1879).
Chairman of the Petty Sessions Court.
President of the Banbridge Branch of the Young Men's Christian Association (1889).
William was also a Justice of the Peace in the 1890s.
In the latter years of William's life, he and Jane went each winter and spring to Harrogate for a change of climate due to his ill-health and it was here that he died on 30th October 1913. Jane's brother, David, was with them on this occasion. He was buried in First Presbyterian Non-Subscribing graveyard, Banbridge alongside his first wife Catherine.
The members of Scarva Street Presbyterian Church raised a memorial tablet in a central position on the south wall between the pulpit and the gallery, the inscription of which reads as follows:
ERECTED BY THE MEMBERS OF SCARVA STREET PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
TO THE MEMORY OF WILLIAM SMYTH JP, BROOKFIELD.
WHO WAS FOR OVER 50 YEARS A TEACHER AND SUPERINTENDENT
OF THE SABBATH SCHOOL
AND FOR OVER 30 YEARS A RULING ELDER IN THE CONGREGATION.
OF STERLING CHARACTER
DEEP RELIGIOUS CONVICTION AND RARE DEVOTION TO DUTY.
HE WORKED INCESSANTLY FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF CHRIST'S KINGDOM.
THOUGH WORK AMONGST THE YOUNG WAS HIS SPECIAL INTEREST.
ALL EVANGELISTIC, TEMPERANCE AND MISSIONARY ENTERPRISE
EVOKED HIS DEEP SYMPATHY AND LIBERAL SUPPORT.
LOYALLY ATTACHED TO THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
HE REJOICED IN THE BROTHERHOOD OF ALL
WHO LOVE THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
BORN 11th FEBRUARY 1835: DIED 30th OCTOBER 1913.
"NOT SLOTHFUL IN BUSINESS, FERVENT IN SPIRIT, SERVING THE LORD."
At the meeting of the West Down Unionists on 27th February 1914 a vote of sympathy was extended to the family on the death of their "worthy and respected President." He was the main factor in having the Association formed and was their first and only President up until his death.
The Chairman, Mr T C Rogers JP, stated that: "Mr Smyth was an honour to any community, a man of great uprightness and integrity, a man of rare business enterprise and success and the supporter and developer of the greatest industry in the North of Ireland, the linen business."
Jane, his second wife, died on 26th February 1928 and was buried in Banbridge Municipal Cemetery. The following plaque was erected to her memory in Scarva Street Presbyterian Church:
TO THE GLORY OF GOD
AND IN LOVING MEMORY OF
JANE ROBINSON SMYTH MBE,
WIFE OF WILLIAM SMYTH JP
A DEVOTED MEMBER OF THIS CHURCH
AND A SABBATH SCHOOL TEACHER FOR 53 YEARS
THIS TABLET IS ERECTED BY
THE MEMBERS OF THE CONGREGATION.
Jane served on the Committee of the Provident Clothing Society in 1882 and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children as well as the Banbridge Total Abstinence Union in the 1920s. She was also President of the Nursing Society from 1918-1928.
She was awarded the MBE for services to the County Down Local War Pensions Committee and possibly for her work with the County Down Nursing Fund during the Great War.
CHILDREN OF WILLIAM'S FIRST MARRIAGE
William Anderson Smyth, the eldest son, was born on 17th May 1861. (For a detailed account of William Anderson Smyth, see section on Belmont House).
Brice (7) of Whitehouse, County Antrim was born on 7th November 1868, the second son of William. He attended Armagh Royal School from 1880-1881, allegedly going on to attend Trinity College Dublin, where he obtained an MB in 1893. He married Frances (Fanny) Stewart Orr, who was born on 28th December 1865, the daughter of Thomas Carmichael Orr and Annie Stevenson Orr of Glasgow.
They had three children - Annie Norah Fanny (Fanny), Katherine (Kitty) and Alan Brice (Alan). Fanny married Tom Erskine, with whom she had two children - John and Heather. John married Rosemary Hamilton and together they had three children - Ross, Andrew and Mark. Heather married Thomas Kendrick (Tony) Edwards and they had two children - David and Caroline.
Kitty married Sandy Mills and together they had a daughter, Ann.
Brice (7) and Fanny's only son was Alan Brice. He was born on 3rd September 1898. Alan pursued a career as an engineer, working for a while in his father's bleachworks before becoming an agent for Kelvin engines. He also played his part in the Second World War serving in the RAF.
Alan married Rachael (Peggy) Vint who was born on 22nd August 1897 and died on 25th February 1974 aged 76 years. Alan predeceased his wife by 24 years, dying on 26th January 1950 aged 51 years. Both died at their home 'Mount Moan', on the Shore Road, Greencastle, Belfast and were buried in Banbridge Municipal Cemetery. They had no children.
As was stated previously, after the death of Henry Smyth, whom Sir John Preston depended upon in the management of 'Preston, Smyth & Co', the company merged with the 'County Down Weaving Co Ltd.' Sir John's son George Preston and Brice (7) were involved in the management of the 'County Down Weaving Co Ltd', which was situated at Woodburn, Carrickfergus. George sold his share to William McKean who himself left the firm some years later, after which Brice (7) moved to Whitehouse where he purchased the bleachworks.
Like his father William, Brice (7) was an ardent Unionist and in later life played an active part in public affairs. Together he and John Erskine JP had a leading role in the formation of a unit of the Ulster Special Constabulary in the Whitehouse district.
Brice (7) also took a very keen interest in yachting, owning a vessel named the 'Tartina', which was originally named the 'Sylph' and had been built in Govern, Scotland in 1876. The 'Tartina' was a fine yacht measuring 61ft Sins in length. Brice (7) was a member of the Royal Alfred Yacht Club in Dublin, the Royal Ulster Yacht Club, and the Bangor and Carrick Yacht Clubs. While still in his ownership, the 'Tartina' was wrecked beyond repair when it was brought into Tarbert, Loch Fyne on the Mull of Kintyre on the wrong side of a perch, hit some rocks and keeled over on its side.
On land, Brice (7) hunted with the East Antrim Harriers and once served as their Honorary Treasurer. During the Great War he joined the Army and spent many years on active service in France.
Brice (7) died aged 54 years on 23rd October 1923 in Liverpool and was survived by his wife, son and two daughters. He was buried from the home of his brother Jumbo (Belmont House), where a service was conducted by the Rev Dr Barren, incumbent of Whitehouse Presbyterian Church and the Rev D H Hanson CBE of Larne. The Rev William Moore of Scarva Street Presbyterian Church officiated at the graveside in Banbridge Municipal Cemetery. The chief mourners were his son Alan Brice, daughters Fanny and Kitty, his brother William and half brother Wilson. Also amongst the mourners were friends and relatives including Thomas Spencer Ferguson, Douglas Smyth, Dr Malcolm Brice Smyth and T Morley Erskine. The employees of 'Whitehouse Bleaching & Finishing Co' and the Ulster Special Constabulary acted as pallbearers.
After his death, Fanny (his wife) went to live with her daughter Kitty at Greenwood Park. Fanny died on 9th May 1949 aged 83 years and was buried alongside her husband in Banbridge Municipal Cemetery.
CHILDREN OF WILLIAM'S SECOND MARRIAGE
Lucinda Evelyn, better known in the family as Eva, was the eldest daughter of William and Jane. She married Thomas Spencer Ferguson on 8th November 1900 in Scarva Street Presbyterian Church. Thomas's best man was Walter Lindsay (whose family owned a bleachworks at Ballydown) and Eva's sister, Jessie Bannatyne Smyth, was matron of honour. They went to live at Iveagh House, reputedly built for them as a wedding present from the Smyth family in 1902 to the designs of the Dromore architect Henry Hobart. They had three daughters - Florence, born on 18th October 1901 at 'The Lodge', Banbridge, who married a jockey and died tragically in childbirth along with her baby at Iveagh House; Janie was born on 14th June 1904 at Iveagh House, and Geraldine, born on 7th September 1910. The latter two did not marry and lived together in Iveagh House for the rest of their lives. When Janie, who was a well-known character around Banbridge, died in 1990 the house was sold and converted into a residential home for the elderly. Vera always remembered Iveagh as being a very cold house.
Jessie Bannatyne was born on 28th December 1882 and named Bannatyne after her uncle. She married Jimmy Morrison of Belfast on 5th September 1922 in Malone Presbyterian Church. The Morrisons were a wealthy linen family who lived at Ballydrain House, Belfast, which is now the clubhouse for the Malone Golf Club.
Edmund Fitzgerald and Robertson Stewart are mentioned more fully in Appendix C.
David Wilson Smyth was born on 12th November 1876, the eldest child of William's second marriage to Jane Robinson Wilson. Wilson married Vera Gordon who was born on 6th January 1881. As was previously mentioned, Vera was the aunt of Jean Ferguson, she being a sister of Malcolm Gordon, Jean's father. It was through the Gordons that the Smyths became connected to the Barbours.
Wilson and Vera had five children - William, Edmund Fitzgerald (named after his uncle and better known as Teddy), Vera and Moira; a fifth child died soon after birth.
Wilson and his wife lived for part of their lives at Huntly House before moving to 'The Limes' in Malone Park, Belfast.
Wilson was educated at Royal School, Dungannon, County Tyrone. After his education he went directly into the family firm of 'Smyth's Weaving Co Ltd', serving for many years as a Director. He was also a Director of the 'Belfast Ropeworks Co Ltd' as early as June 1925, replacing the late R J McKean MP. Another well-known Director of the 'Belfast Ropeworks' was the Right Honourable John Miller Andrews DL MP, who succeeded Sir James Craig as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1940. The Andrews family had strong connections with the Barbours, a cousin of Vera Smyth (Nellie Barbour) having married as her first husband Thomas Andrews of RMS 'Titanic' fame. The Smyth family still have in their possession a biography of Thomas Andrews inscribed "To Vera, lots of love Nellie." Norman Dickson Ferguson DL, of Clonaslee, also held the post of Director of the 'Belfast Ropeworks' at one time. In 1938 Wilson was appointed Chairman, holding this position until 1940. He maintained an interest in the ropeworks up until his death.
He was also involved with the development of road transport, being one of the first members of the Northern Ireland Transport Board and later its replacement organisation the Ulster Transport Authority, of which he became a Vice-Chairman.
Like his father, Wilson was heavily involved in Unionist politics, as were most of the linen barons at that time, being a member of the West Down Unionist Association and their Honorary Treasurer in 1918. When Sir Edward Carson came to Banbridge in September 1913, Wilson was a prominent member of the platform party.
Also like his father, he took a great deal of interest in public life and represented the following organisations:
He was a Deputy Lieutenant for County Down between 1925 and 1928.
Technical School Committee (1920).
Petty Sessions Committee (1920 to 1924).
President of Banbridge Hockey Club.
Member of the Ulster Club, Belfast.
Past Master of Masonic Lodge No: 7.
Master of the Iveagh Harriers.
Joint founder of Banbridge Golf Club in 1912 and its first Captain.
Captain of Royal County Down Golf Club in 1921, 1922, 1931 and 1945 and Honorary Secretary,
Some mention of Wilson's golfing career must be made. He was a very keen golfer and took an active part in at least four clubs - Banbridge, Malone, Mourne and Royal County Down at Newcastle. He was an Honorary Life Member of Mourne Golf Club. In 1915 he took his seat for the first time on the council at Royal County Down Golf Club. In 1921 he won the Irish Open Amateur Championship played at Royal County Down. In September the club held a dinner in his honour and presented him with a gold-mounted hunting crop, a gesture Wilson no doubt would have appreciated as he was Master of the Iveagh Harriers at the time. He also rode with the County Down Staghounds. In the same year, 1921, HRH Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (later Duke of Windsor), on a visit to the Province, came to play golf at Royal County Down and was partnered by Wilson in the game. Vera, his daughter, stated that her father was never one for standing on ceremony and he made no exception for the Prince of Wales. After playing a round of golf with the Prince, Edward said to Wilson that he would see him that evening at a dinner he was holding in Hillsborough Castle. No doubt Edward would have been surprised when Wilson replied that he would not as he wouldn't be going. However, during the course of the day an invitation arrived from Government House requesting the presence of Wilson and his wife at dinner that evening. As Vera related, it was more or less a Royal command and even Wilson could not refuse. Apparently it threw her mother into the most awful panic as she had to get her hair done and decide what to wear at short notice!
A presentation board was erected in the Royal County Down Clubhouse in the 1920s recording his services to the club and his golfing achievements. He also represented Ireland at International level. From 1932 to 1938 he was President of the Golfing Union of Ireland and also once served as Vice-President of the Ulster Branch of the Golfing Union of Ireland.
Wilson's daughter Vera also recalled an incident when her father went to Royal County Down for a round of golf with his friend Charlie Cowdy. After the day's game, Wilson challenged Charlie to a race home, which he duly accepted. Their cars were not sporty ones although Charlie's was the fastest, therefore Charlie gave Wilson a head start. However, Wilson decided to play a joke on Charlie and on the way home he pulled in at a petrol station in Castlewellan and turned out his lights. Charlie drove by and Wilson then drove home at his own speed. The next day both men had a great laugh about the incident. Although not terribly interested in cars, like some of the neighbouring linen families Wilson did own a 12-year-old Rolls Royce, which he bought at a cost of £150.
In his younger days, Wilson played hockey and represented Ulster in the inter-provincial matches on several occasions and was once selected for an International trial. He was a member of the Banbridge hockey team when they won the Irish Cup in 1907.
Wilson died on 24th August 1953 aged 76 years in the Musgrave and Clark Clinic in Belfast. An instruction in Wilson's will stated that Herbie Anderson (Snr). an ex-factory manager, was entitled to live at Drumnagally Cottage for the rest of his life at a cost of one shilling per year.
A plaque was erected to him in Scarva Street Presbyterian Church, which reads as follows:
TO THE GLORY OF GOD
IN MEMORY OF DAVID WILSON SMYTH DL,
NOVEMBER 12th 1876 - AUGUST 24th 1953,
ERECTED TO A LOYAL AND HONOURED MEMBER OF
THIS CHURCH BY A GRATEFUL CONGREGATION.
Vera died some 13 years later on 15th February 1966 aged 85 years.
FIRST-BORN CHILD OF WILSON
William was the eldest child of Wilson and was born on 11th February 1912. He spent all his working life in Brookfield factory and during the Second World War met a girl named Joan Scott, whose family lived in Malone Park, Belfast and whose father was a Senior Director of the Northern Bank. Joan had come to Ashfield House, home of William's cousin Gwen Coey, to help run the estate after Gwen's husband, Captain Coey, had suddenly decided to join the Army on home service. Gwen's children, Mary and William, were at boarding school at the time so Joan also provided company for Mrs Coey. William often visited Ashfield House during this period and it was on such a visit that he met Joan, whom he was to marry.
Carrying on in the tradition of his father, William was also a great golfer and Captained Royal County Down Golf Club in 1959, acting as Honorary Secretary from 1956-1977. He represented the club on senior teams for many years. He was also Convenor of the Green Committee.
William served as Master of the Iveagh Harriers for a time. He had a very keen interest in shooting and partook in pheasant drives in places like Castlewellan Forest, the estate owned by his good friend Gerald Annesley. He was also an expert snipe shot. Bobby Blakely, who was boiler man in the factory, often acted as his beater, whilst Pringle Fleming was his driver and worked his Labrador dogs. He was also a keen fisherman.
Before succeeding to Brookfield House in 1953, William lived at 'Rosemount' on the Scarva Road, now the site of St Teresa's Chapel.
He was an ardent Unionist and held many positions in Unionism. He was also a Justice of the Peace.
CHILDREN OF WILLIAM
William and Joan had three children - Brice (9) Wilson, born on 26th May 1947; Gordon, born on 22nd January 1950, and Heather Moira, born on 20th December 1952.
Brice (9), known as Wilson in the family, worked as an engineer in the Postal Depot in Tomb Street, Belfast, where he was murdered in a car bomb attack on 26th October 1988 aged 41 years, leaving a wife Jennifer and three children - Susan, David and Alastair.
Gordon, when young, was given the then new whooping cough vaccine from which he developed an allergic reaction, resulting in him being permanently mentally and physically disabled. It was for Gordon that the outdoor heated pool was built at Brookfield House.
Heather married Norman John Senior from Midlothian, Scotland in Scarva Street Presbyterian Church on 21st September 1974. She trained as a Veterinary Surgeon, as did her husband with whom she resides in Scotland. They have three children, two boys and a girl.
William Smyth died on 5th March 1990 aged 78 years, the last in the male line of Smyths of Brookfield House. Joan remained on in Brookfield House, a house she loved dearly and the gardens of which she did so much to transform, until 1993 when she sold the house. She moved to Blackskull where she died in 1999. Her ashes were placed alongside her husband in the family grave in the Municipal Cemetery, Banbridge.
OTHER CHILDREN OF WILSON
Moira Gordon was the eldest daughter of David Wilson and was born on 14dl May 1914.
Moira is best remembered for her prolific golfing career, something of which her father Wilson was no doubt proud. She was a member of Royal County Down Ladies' Golf Club, Newcastle where she held the following positions:
Club Captain 1948, 1949 and 1963
Club President 1972-1977
President, Irish League Golf Union 1967-1970 and 1976-1978.
During the Second World War she was a Junior Commandant in the Auxiliary Territorial Service in Northern Ireland of which she and Daisy Ferguson, a daughter of Stanley Ferguson and also a keen golfer, were in charge. Moira and Daisy were to end up living close to one another in Newcastle. Daisy lived at Spelga Avenue and Moira lived in a bungalow on the Bryansford Road in Newcastle, spending most of her life doing what she enjoyed most - playing golf. In latter years due to ill-health she went to live with her sister Vera near Dungannon. Another talent of Moira's that not many people knew about was her superb public speaking ability, which enabled her to deliver very witty and entertaining speeches. She died on 26th February 1990 aged 75 years and was buried in the family grave.
Vera Wilson was born on 1st April 1916 at Huntly House, where she lived until 1922, after which the family moved to Belfast. Whilst her sister Moira took up their father's favourite game, golf, Vera enjoyed Wilson's other favourite sport, hunting. Vera often travelled down to Banbridge with her father and whilst he was working, she would go horse riding. She was fond of Brookfield and referred to it as "her domain." When World War Two broke out and the Germans bombed Belfast the family moved back to Brookfield House.
Vera, along with her sister Moira, attended school in Folkestone. Vera recalls that the only thing it taught her was how to travel by train from London to Folkestone! She also recalls that one year her father was to pay them a visit at their school and take them out. He was over on a golfing trip, playing the courses around the Cinque Ports. When the day duly arrived it was Vera's duty to clear away the dishes after lunch. She picked up a soup bowl, which still contained hot soup and put her thumb into the bowl causing her to say: "Damn!" For this Vera was not allowed to see her father on the one and only occasion he ever visited them at school! Incidentally, Vera stated that her mother never travelled anywhere as she had a dislike of travelling.
Vera married twice; firstly to Arthur Buckby Sinton of Banford House where she lived for nine years. Arthur, a son of the wealthy Sinton linen family, served as a Pilot Officer in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, 515 Squadron, personnel number 119279 and was killed in action on 26th June 1943, aged 27 years. Shot down off the coast of Holland, his body was never recovered. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey (panel 129), Armagh Cathedral, St Anne's Cathedral, Belfast and Gilford War Memorial. On the day of his death his father Frederick Buckby Sinton also died at Banford House and it was never known who died first.
Vera and Arthur had two children - David, who became a Professor of Landscape Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, USA and Vera May, who won an Exhibition to study Mathematics at Oxford University and was one of the first women to be ordained a priest in the Church of England.
Vera married as her second husband. Alien Stephenson, who was a Veterinary Surgeon with a practice in Dungannon. They had four children - Katherine, Lois, Joy and Sally. Lois has two children, Brice and Peter, and Sally has two children, Niall and Hannah.
Vera is now 86 years old and as such has the honour of being the oldest surviving member of the Smyth family.
Edmund Fitzgerald (Ted/Teddy) was born on 24lh March 1919 and like many of the other sons of linen families he was sent to Elm Park Preparatory School, Killylea, County Armagh in 1929. After leaving school he went to learn the linen business at 'Moygashel.' He learned to weave nylon and other materials, such as parachute silk and heavy synthetic material, skills he brought back to Brookfield. During the War he served as a temporary Lieutenant with the Royal Navy on what were called "torpedo boats." In April 1943, aged 25 years, he was serving in the Mediterranean when he was mentioned in Dispatches for an action off the coast of Tunisia and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Like William, he became a Director of the Dungannon based company 'Moygashel' when it bought over Brookfield factory. When 'Courtaulds' took over 'Moygashel', Teddy went to work for a firm in Donaghadee shortly before retiring. He and his wife Annette lived at Killyleagh. Teddy and Annette (who had a daughter from a previous marriage) had two daughters, Jenny and Diana. He died at the 18th hole of the Royal County Down Golf Course, Newcastle on 12th November 1988.
Before the factory standing today was built, Brice (3) Smyth was controlling an intake industry from the cottage weavers. From the 1830s on, Brice (4) was employing 2,000 weavers, this number having grown considerably by the importing of mill spun yarn from England. The yarn would be boiled, sorted and wound on the premises before being given out to the weavers.
In Banbridge in the 1830s, winders were paid 3½d per 20 hanks and a good winder earned between 4d and 5d per day.
On 2nd July 1825 Brice (3) of Drumnagally, a linen draper, obtained a loan of £6,000 from three Dublin men - Edward Alexander and James and Richard Garrett. This loan would have enabled him to erect part of what became Brookfield factory, handlooms were installed and a new era began.
The firm of 'Brice Smyth & Sons' was established consisting of Brice (3), Brice (4) and John. John would eventually leave Brookfield after having purchased the property that was to become Milltown bleachworks. Brice (4) was blind, but this was no handicap to working in the factory; as was mentioned before, his sense of touch was highly developed and he was able to judge the quality of yarn or cloth simply by its feel. The firm specialised in heavy shirting linen known as "County Downs." It was Brice (4) who taught many of the men who went on to found some of the great linen firms of Ulster - Thomas Ferguson of Edenderry (Banbridge) fame, John Hogg, Abraham Walker Craig, John Preston (latterly Sir John Preston) and Henry Matier. Craig founded 'Craig's Mill', which later became the 'New Northern Spinning & Weaving Co Ltd.' The first power looms to be used in the linen industry were introduced at the 'New Northern Spinning & Weaving Co Ltd.' Brice (4) died in 1851, his son William taking over the firm at the young age of 15 years, although it is likely that the business would have been under the control of his guardians at that time. Ten years later the firm reached what was arguably its highest peak, the reason for this being the outbreak of the American Civil War. As the cotton industry declined the linen industry rose. Incidentally, prior to this, the Smyths lost linen during the famous Boston Tea Party, for which they were never compensated.
When power looms were invented William was quick to seize the opportunity of a more efficient method of production. An advertisement in the 'Banbridge Chronicle' dated 11th November 1882 states: "Estimate for building factory, apply Brice Smyth & Son Ltd for a copy of the plans." Brookfield factory was built between 1882 and 1884 and the new building housed a fully equipped power loom factory weaving coarse and fine linen employing 250 people, the power for which was generated from steam. The old dam, adjacent to the factory, provided the main supply of water. Many years ago I remember tracing this stream to its origin about a mile away before it eventually wound its way through the gardens of Brookfield House, flowed under the lane and into the dam.
In 1884 William brought William Anderson (Jumbo), his eldest son, into partnership forming 'Smyth's Weaving & Co Ltd.' The old firm of 'Brice Smyth & Sons' carried on for a few more years, if only in name. 'Brice Smyth & Sons' had been established a century earlier, manufacturing fine linen for shirtfronts using hand looms. It once gave employment to 300 cottage weavers.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, 'Smyth's Weaving & Co Ltd' had 340 of their 350 looms in use. As well as the Banbridge factory, they also had a factory in Lisbura, "The Lisburn Weaving Co' which was owned by Edmund Fitzgerald Smyth.
THE LATTER YEARS
After the Second World War 'Smyth's Weaving Co Ltd' and 'The Lisburn Weaving Co' amalgamated with 'Stevensons' of Dungannon and the 'Braid Water Spinning Co' of Ballymena (with whom, in 1877, William Smyth was involved in a court case over black threads in the yarn supplied to him and which he lost) to form 'Moygashel.' To the workers and locals it was still referred to as Smyths or Brookfield. In 1964 the firm was taken over by 'Courtaulds' in whose ownership it remained until the decision was taken to close the operation completely in 1980. When 'Courtaulds' took over there were initially 350 Atherton looms running. In the 1940s each weaver tended two looms but due to the invention of machinery that stopped a loom immediately when a thread broke, weavers could tend to four looms each. In 1964 Northrop automatic looms were installed. They were more complicated to use but they produced more cloth with less labour, one weaver now attending seven looms. This meant that less looms were needed and the number of looms was reduced to 200. This also enabled more free space between the machines.
During the Second World War, Brookfield factory played its part in the War effort by weaving various kinds of material. Aircraft Linen was made for covering some of the framework of Mosquito aeroplanes, Khaki Denim for soldiers uniforms and Tent Duck, which was a tough, cotton, waterproof thread used for making Army tents. This material was so tough that the looms had to be strengthened by various means to prevent them from breaking.
'Courtaulds' introduced a bonus scheme which benefited the worker greatly: wages were raised from £6.50 to over £10 per week. Tenters wages were £20 per week. A 'housewife's shift' was also introduced, which ran from 5:30pm to 10pm.
Brookfield factory had an experienced time and motion team, one of the best in the country.
The following is a condensed list of some of the male workers in Brookfield factory in the late 1930s all of whom are now deceased: Joiners were John Martin and Matt Hanlon; Slashers were Joe Jardine and Ernie Jamison; in the Cloth Office Eddie Adamson and Andy Clyde; Oilers were Billy Rogers and John Crothers; the Boilcrman was Jack Clements; Winding Master was Billy Close; one of the Labourers was Jack McKinstry; Office Manager was Stanley Cairns; Tenters included Billy Wilson, Tom McCallister, Tom Camlin, Tommy Arthurs, Ben Freeburn and Frank Martin; Weavers were George Adamson. Billy Ewart and Jimmy Bell.
The following list of names cover the last years of Brookfield factory and this is only a small selection of the workforce. The majority of those mentioned outlived Brookfield factory, all of course sad to see its demise. The names were supplied by my father Jim, who came to Brookfield factory to work as a Cloth Marker. His last job was General Handyman and he also acted as Security Man every other Sunday. Francie Magill covered each alternate Sunday. The Night Shift Man was Jack McKnight who would arrive each night on his bicycle. An elderly man, he always wore a trench coat and soft hat. He died in the factory carrying out his duties.
I remember the factory as a very peaceful place on a Sunday. All the looms sitting silently idle with rolls of cloth still on them and piles of fluff everywhere. I also remember two Cleaners - Joe Evans and his father, the late Taffy Evans. Joe reminded me years later that I used to run around with a toy gun pretending to shoot him.
The Loom Mechanics, better known as Tenters, included the late Andrew McCready, the late Jack Anthony, the late John Gill, David and Billy Ervine, Jim Barr, Noel Brown, Roy and Joe Rowney and Sammy Johnson who wrote 'Where No Shuttles Fly' which was published in Banbridge Historical Society's Journal Number Five and is well worth a read to give some idea of what it was like to work in Brookfield factory. The Foreman was the late Billy Crimble; the Winding Master was the late Billy Matthews; the Cloth Passers included Peggy Toner, Marie Kerr, Susan McArdle, Marjorie Hewitt, the late Tommy Graham, the late Emelda Drysdale, the late Kathleen Maguire, the late Rosaleen McGuinness, the late Lottie McCullough, and the late Dolly Donaldson; the Lorry Driver was Joe Lecky; Labourers included Walter Thompson, Richard Burns, Jack Spratt, Jackie Whiteside, Colin Reynolds, Brian Redpath, Robert Clydesdale, Johnny Black, Francis Magill, the late Thomas Cochrane, the late Joe Tate, the late Ernie Jamison, the late Joe Sands, and the late James Stewart; Yarn Dressers included Desmond Winters, Richard Sheehan, Norman Matthews, the late Robert McMaster, the late Billy Paul, the late Joe Dickson and the late Bobby Jardine; Drawer-ins included Hazel Paxton (nee Mahood), Leontia Doyle, Edie Whiteside, Florence Pools (nee Walker), the late Rabena Dickson, and the late Una McKnight; Weavers included the late Lucy Clydesdale, the late Lily Brennan, the late Lily Elliott, the late Jeanic McAdam and the late Minnie Lennon; Darners included Rhoda Neill, Mrs Rice, Mamie Conlon, Eva Derby, Mrs D Gillen, Toni O'Reilly, Mrs Graham, Margaret Downey, the late Aggie Dale, the late Helen Rooney, the late Maureen McKay, the late Louie Fitzsimmons, the late Jean Conlon, the late Mrs McFadden, the late Rose Carr, the late Mrs Warren, the late Mrs Davidson and the late Sadie Burns; Weft Winders included Mabel McCarrison, Bernadette Pepper, Margaret Dennison, Bridie Downey, Helen Magill and Bridie Wray; in charge of the Weft Trap was Dorothy Wilson; Warpers included Iris Matthews, Carol Todd and Kathleen Campbell; Foreman over the Reelers and Darners was Jim Rogers. The last Boilcrman was Bobby Blakely. Bobby tended the two old furnaces in dusty, dark conditions. Other Boilermen, prior to Bobby, were the late Jack Clements and the late Tommy Magill who lived on the Scarva Road. Norman Thompson was Night Boilcrman and died while carrying out his duties. The two boilers had name and date plates; one was dated 1890, the other 1911 and had glass temperature gauges above the two doors.
[In the above paragraph mention is made, under Weavers, of the late Lucy Clysdale. It has been brought to my attention by her nephew Paul Clydesdale that at this time, January 2009, she is still very much alive and well and living in England. Added by Robert F S Sinton]
Mechanics were Stanley McCarrison, the late Tommy Rogers, the late Bertie Jennings, the late Eddie McCaughey, and the late Sandy and the late Billy Coyles; the Electrician was George Matier; the Oilers were the late Albert Turkington, the late Johnny Stewart and the late Ernie McCallister; the late Eddie Gurgan was in charge of Building Maintenance; the Joiners were Joe Gailey and the late Jack Patterson; the late Thomas Cochrane drove the Factory Minibus as well as being a Labourer; Doreen Porter was Wages Clerk and worked with Annette Cochrane and the late Gladys McCarrison; the Phone Receptionist was Florence Russell, the Canteen Staff were the late Grace Harrison and the late Mrs Brown
There were several Factory Managers in Brookfield's history, the most well known all coming from one family, the Andersons. Several generations of them held this position, the last two being the late Herbie (Manager) and the late Howard (Under Manager). Paddy Wright was Production and Quality Manager.
On a personal note, both my parents Jim and Naomi worked in the factory. Naomi was a Weaver as was my late grandmother Emma McCandless. A number of my aunts and uncles also found employment in the factory - the late Thora Jennings (nee McCandless) was a Drawer-in; the late Lily Martin (nee McCandless) was a Dobbin Cleaner; Margaret McCandless (nee Mitchell) was a Weaver; Ula McCandless (nee Anderson) was a Darner and June Gault (nee Clydesdale) was a Weaver; Alex McCandless and the late Bertie McCandless were both Labourers. A good friend of my mother's, Betty Cromie from Newry, worked as a Maid in Brookfield House during William's time there; her late husband Mick was William's Chauffeur.
LAYOUT OF THE FACTORY
The factory itself seems to have been built on at least four levels. On the top level, which was viewable from the yard of Brookfield House, the Manager's red brick office was situated, along with the wages offices opposite. The Manager's office no longer exists. The chimney, which was built of the same red brick stood proudly close by, as it does to this day. Nearly all the factory chimneys in Banbridge were built of red brick with one exception, Ferguson's, which was built of a yellow/white brick. The canteen was a later addition to the factory and stood close by, and in fact was built outside the walls. There were numerous stores on this level including the large modern store erected in the 1960/1970s. It had a lift that operated to the lower levels. The toilet block was also on this level.
On the middle/second level, accessible through large double wooden gates which had a small door in one of them for the workers to enter through, lay the bicycle shed to the immediate left hand side. To the right hand side was a three-storey shed which was used to store timber which lay close by, just at the entrance to the main weaving shop. The mechanics shop was next door to the joiners.
The main weaving shop contained several hundred looms. It was so quiet on Sundays compared to the weekdays when it was so noisy, dusty and full of workers tending their looms and others coming and going about their business. Just through the door was the clocking machine where the workers clocked in and out. There were lots of brown coloured clock cards with the little holes in them that recorded when they had arrived and left. Not far past this was a door that led into the winding shop and dressing room. This is where the drawer-ins worked, preparing the yarns for the looms, working at the never-ending amount of threads that they had to go through day after day. The remainder of this room was used by the cloth passers, their job being to inspect the cloth for imperfections, and many a weaver got a lecture for bad work.
On the third level was the darning loft where the weaving faults were repaired. The yarn store was also here. Above this was a chute running from another building where the rolls of cloth were slid down through.
The bottom yard, like the next two levels, was accessed via a set of grey painted double doors. The water from the dam that lay outside the walls was stored in this yard, later this water hole was filled in and the area used for the storage of coal. There was an area like a handball court where the coal was originally stored, but this was later used to dump scrap metal. The bottom level of the factory contained the boiler room, the smithy and iron store and the old pumphouse that went out of operation years previously due to the fact that electric motors had been installed to run the machinery. There was a more recently built block shed near the boiler house and on this level the steel was kept.
In December 1980 Brookfield factory closed its gates for the last time. The buildings are now used for the manufacture of manhole covers.
To finalise on Brookfield the following poem may well say it all:
Near Banbridge town in County Down,
A factory known to all
And by the name of 'Brookfield'
Came workers one and all.
The brand name of 'Moygashel'
Would never have been known
Without the Brookfield workers
Who worked fingers to the bone.
There were warpers, there were winders
Reelers, drawer-ins and more
There were slashers and some beamers
And darners by the score.
Then there were the weavers
They did work hard and sore
There were tyer-ons and stoppers
And a tenter from Dromore.*
From Portadown to Scarva
Rathfriland on the hill
Tandragee and sweet Dromore
Were all found in the mill.
From Loughbrickland came our Jackie**
He worked just like a slave
Wheeling beams and doing other jobs
His day was surely made.
Then there were the fitters
Joiners and tenters too
Everyone was happy
For they knew just what to do.
When Courtaulds came they made a change
Long service you did get
For thirty years or even more
You got a Carriage Clock!
A magazine they did produce,
They called it 'Courtaulds News'
We never once were mentioned
Not even to air our views.
Some characters we sure did get
And many a laugh we got
There was Taffie, Flash and Shortie ***
Forget them we will not.
And then that fateful Friday
We were summoned to be told
That good old Brookfield Factory
Was going to be closed.
The watch and clock we'd do without
And other privileges too
For what good is a watch or clock
When signing on the 'broo?'****
Written by Florence Pools (née Walker) from Dromore; Florence was a drawer-in.
* Sammy Johnson.
** Jackie Spratt.
*** Taffie - Taffie Evans, Shortie - Colin Reynolds.
**** The Broo . sociai Security, Unemployment Benefit.