A Letter about Linen History

In 1946, Harry receives a letter which satisfies his curiosity about the history of linen-beetling and finishing in his part of the world.

6th November 1946

Belfast Chemical Works
Dalton Street

H.J. Clark Esq.,
C/o Messrs. Wm. Clark & Sons Ltd.,

Dear Mr Clark,

Many thanks for your letter containing certain particulars re the history of Moneycarrie and Mullamore.

In Piggotts' Directory of 1824, which was probably the most reliable published up to that date, the following list of Bleachers in the Coleraine district is given.

James & Alex Barklie
Bennett & Son
Greenfield, Macosquin
F.T. & R. Bennett
Thomas Bennett
Robert Conn
Hemphill, Hunter, McFarland
Greenfield, Aghadowey
John Knox
Andrew Orr
James Orr
Rankin & Ogilvy
Heathfield, Garvagh
Smith, Hamill & Co.
John Wilson & Son

I am not sure whether the Orrs had two Bleach greens. Andrew, who appears to have been the senior, may have resided at Keely, the main business being at Moneycarrie. The position of all the Greens mentioned on the list can, I think, be identified with the exception of Rankin & Ogilvys. I imagine this Green was situated in a townland or place known as Inchillin on the river and about a mile or so from Garvagh.

The first Barklie at Mullamore was James, a son of Thomas Barklie of Inver, Larne. He was born in the 1760s and died in 1821. Alex may have been his son or a son of his brother Thomas II and grandson of Thomas I. I believe the firm eventually became Thomas and George Barklie, the latter probably a son or nephew of one of the previous partners.

In a survey of Co. Derry by Rev. Sampson, published I think in 1802, a list of the bleachers in South Derry is given. This includes Wm. Clark and J. Clark of Maghera, who, of course, were bleaching long before that date, several Hendersons and Crawfords at Castledawson and a bleacher named Stevenson at Fort William which I believe is near Tobermore.

I have always been interested in bleaching sites of former days, but during the war years references were not easily available, otherwise I might have more data at hand.

By the way, it is rather a pity that you, as one of the very oldest, if not the oldest, establishment in the linen trade have not compiled a history dealing with the firm from date of establishment to the present day.Such a history would, I am sure, be of very great interest, not only to the trade but to many people outside the linen industry altogether.

Yours truly,

James A Beck.