I sailed again for New York about August 12, 1889 on the old SS Ethiopia, Anchor Line. Although, owing to Harry Chalmers’ resignation I had no agent to help me, I had quite a successful trip both in the USA and Canada.
I appointed H L Smyth and Co as our agents in Toronto and Montreal. Charlie Smyth resided in Montreal and Henry in Toronto and they soon opened up a nice business for us in eastern Canada, including the lower provinces where we got some nice orders from Vassie and Co, and Claytons. At that time there was no business to be done in Vancouver or Winnipeg.
After making a quick trip to Montreal and Toronto, I went on to Hamilton, Cleveland Detroit, Chicago, Saint Louis and so on and sailed home after spending only five weeks in the USA and Canada, but with a well-filled order book.
On arriving home at the end of September 1889, I found terrible difficulty in getting goods finished for my orders as we had no frames and not enough (beetling) engines. All the canvas was finished at Lisnafillan.
In the next two years until my marriage in 1896 I went to America and Canada twice annually and crossed the ocean on nearly all the boats then running, such as the SS Anchoria, Etruria, Umbria, Teutonic and Majestic. The last two were the crack new White Star ships launched in 1891, of 10,000 tons each.
I also crossed in the renowned City of Paris and City of New York, of the Inman Line, and then in the Oceania, Lucania, City of Rome – all in those early days.
From 1890 onwards, our trade commenced to grow by leaps and bounds and I was getting huge orders for canvas from the USA. Hollands were also eagerly in demand.
?Lecker Whitman of New York often ordered 2,000 pieces (60 yards each) of natural and pale hollands, and the great difficulty was getting the goods finished. About 1891 we put in our first stenter frame and I had terrible difficulty getting John Smith the green manager onto the new work.
A new boiler also had to be put in and it was bought second hand at some ?peat-cutting works owned by Mr Robert Forrester near Maghera and we had great difficulty getting it out of the bog.
Moneycarrie works were also bought in July 1890 for £1,915 which gave us 24 extra beetling engines after a year’s work getting them put in order after lying idle for about 28 years.
The following will give dates on which a few important extensions were made:
- First stenter frame about 1891
- First steam boiler (excepting an old, very small one) put in 1891
- Moneycarrie works and lands bought 1890 for £1,915
- Addition to Lapping Room and Office 1891
- 12 Jubilee beetling engines built 1896, actually started July 1897
- Lapping Room dam commenced August 10, 1897, completed March 1899
- New Road Engines – commenced to build September 1902, completed October 1903
- A steam engine and a boiler with chimney put in the same year.
- Island Dam – we began raising the banks eight feet in 1905
- 1900 Railway siding to green started being made on April 10, finished October 4.
- Green Dam raised four feet.
- 1907 New Dam (Craigs) at Head Sluice first filled on January 31
- 1910 Foundation laid for weaving factory, September 11. The building was 176 feet by 156
- 1911 The masons had completed the work by January 24, but weaving was not started until August 9 as a new Howden HS engine had to be erected.
Returning to 1896, after my marriage on February 26, I found the business was growing so rapidly that I found it necessary to get an American traveller, David Waugh who had been for many years with our Manchester agents, Walter Clarks (no relation). He was engaged at a salary of £140 per annum and for several years he went out in January and August and got huge orders for black, brown and slate canvas.