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I just read that the Coats Barbour Factory at Hilden is to close with the loss of 85 jobs... I know that a number of you guys worked in the Mill or had associations with it and must be sad to see this day come...
Another sad day for one of Lisburn's most enduring and historic workplaces... Maybe you'd like to share some memories with us...
Worked in Receipts & Despatch at Hilden Mill 1949/50 or thereabouts.Many memories but the best one is of the shortbread from the canteen.
My family had been associated with "the Mill" for over 150 years, the last family member being my Uncle Ronnie Watters who upon retiring had 50 years service.
We rose ,ate, started, stopped work and slept to the command of the mill horn. I myself worked as a trucker in Nr 3 Winding 1959 for a year. After the death of my mother we moved to 169 Mill Street Hilden to my Gran,s and I can never forget always awakening to the sound of literally thousands of feet making their way to their workplace. Later buses brought the workers in the morning to work and collected them again in the evening.
In my youth the workers only had the " twelfth week" as annual holidays and on that Friday they had to appear for their wages which was paid in the Dining Room across from where we lived.
Also the Cornation of Elisabeth was a special occasion as we were allowed to accompany our Aunts and Uncles into the mill and were given a glass of lemonade and a few biscuits from the "joins".
Hilden school was also financed by the Barbour Family as was the EMB Hall.
Like Donald my family had generations of service to "The Mill". My Uncle Robbie worked there for over 60 years and my father and oldest brother also spent many years in the mill.
I was born and raised in a mill house and like my brothers, went to Hilden School. I played football for Hilden Rec which was funded by the mill.
I spent many happy years in and around Hilden and have many happy memories of the school, the mill dining room and not least the EMB Hall and the Park. I too, like Donald and thousands of people like us lived my early life to the sound of the mill horn and although I never actually worked in the Mill I toured it on several occasions.
I have said before that it is a tragedy of monumental proportions that the village of Hilden has effectively disappeared and I hope some residential development takes place on the land around the mill that might allow the name of Hilden to live on.
Many books have been written about the Cadbury family and their benevolence to their workforce but sadly not much is recorded about the Barbour family and the provision they made for decent housing in the Hilden and Low Road areas and most importantly for education. I always smile when I see the new name for the school "Hilden Integrated School".
It was always an integrated school but nobody thought to use the term - it was and is Hiden School.
As a matter of interest the house I was reared in was bought for the princely sum of £35.00 from the Mill as part of our family were employed there.
Happy, happy times and do you know it never rained in the summer in those long ago times.
I too remember Hilden Mill and school. I think I am a bit younger than some of you on the site but I love to see what you are writing about. I was just telling my 13 year old the other day about the outside toilets at Hilden school! It is hard for young ones these days to imagine how it was then. What I particularly remember about the mill was the canteen and how on a Friday we used to go from school to buy chips. I remember in particular one day when my older brother grabbed the piece of fish I had been accidentally been given with my chips when I showed it to him.
I also remember telling my teacher in P.l that my mother had said I should get the two o'clock bus home to the Low Road on the odd day when I just fancied going home early. What happy days!
Myself a time served turner in the Mill, actually we were slaves to the mill, a mill owned house, should your dad loss his job in the mill you were homeless, My dad worked as a stoker in the fire house in the mill as near as hell as one can get, touched his hat to Buster Long a big boss in the mill, when I think of the (good old days) what a load of horse manure, people forget we were a police state in them days, Jeez the blacks in America have similar memories as we had. Glad to see the Mill shutting down. Always remember the slave days of the peasants.
I think your memory is playing tricks with you Frazer. To compare the conditions in your time with the blacks in USA is , in my opinion, totally out of order.
Buster Long was no different from any other boss in any organisation. as a matter of fact I still touch my cap/hat(if I am wearing one) to anyone I greet today.
Of course mill housing was tied to the mill.
Why should that surprise you?
Farm housing id still tied to the farm today.
As a matter of fact, did you know anyone who actually was "put on the street"?
I am not suggesting that every thing in the garden was all roses.
Presumably the training you got in the mill enabled you to start your new life.
Victory street was considered the posh end of the Low Road.
Perhaps if you had chosen Hilden School instead of the "Willie Boot" you might have been taught a less jaundiced view of life.
I hope you are enjoying your retirement in your adopted country as I am in mine.
I,m afraid I cannot agree with you, at least the Barbour family were concerned about the welfare of their employees, providing schools, housing , recreational facilities, and most of all employment and income ( if somewhat meagre ) for the greater part of the Lisburn population. Unlike some of the abstentee Landlords we read about in Irish history, who allowed their tenant farmers and their familes to starve the name Barbour was associated with charity ,welfare and employment.
Naturally their profit was also to them important but have you considered if the Barbour family had not existed what would have become of the thousands of families who earned their living and lived in the houses built by them?
Those somewhat primitive working and housing conditions not only existed in Northern Ireland but if one reads Engels " The conditions of the working class in England " nation if not worldwide.
I,m sure you agree also that part of the blame for such conditions lie also on the shoulders of the affected workers who could have combined forces to better their working and living conditions.