Busy twilight years


In September, a new road was made on the dam bank, and the old one closed, to make room for a new Frame House. In October, there was a great scarcity of yarns and piece goods, and few beetling engines were going in Upperlands, and none at Moneycarrie or Mullamore.

In December, Mr Hilton who had been our dyer for many years went to live in Portstewart.


On January 17, my grandson Blake was killed in a military training accident, shortly after being given command of a platoon. One of his men had caught a grenade in his belt buckle, and Blake died after leaping forward to save the soldier.

In March, our US agent JG Robinson was here for a week. It was his first visit. He made the trip by air, about 12 hours each way.

On March 28, my son Brian left for South America where he had a most successful trip. It was the first time we sent anyone to South America.

As of April, the building of large new Frame House was nearly complete. The new frames and cans had been delivered but the house was not quite ready.

As of July 4, the dams had been nearly empty for months. On this day the long drought ended and we had a big flood, but as only a part of the sluices had been opened, much of the water was lost.

On August 20, our Toronto agent Arthur King came here for four days.

On August 22, my son Willie went to Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

In September, a Spooner heater was being put in house under the new Brown Room. It cost over £2,400. The Green (but not the factory or Dundee Mangles) was off on Saturdays and Mondays.

On November 23, my namesake Harry Clark, the last member of the old Manchester firm of Walter Clark which acted as our agents for 60 years, died.


January was the coldest month for 67 years. England was divided into two parts between Liverpool and the Humber.

On February 1, we had to cope with a terrible coal shortage. We were notified that our coal allocation of 82 tons weekly would be reduced to 51-1/2 so we are only working 3 or 4 days weekly. We had already reduced the daily coal consumption from 16-1/2 to 13 tons, due to my son Tom's clever ideas. One was to cut steam pressure for process work to 50 lbs instead of 100 lbs. He also devised a new system for providing hot water everywhere.

A reduced time of 45 hours per week was started in our weaving factory early January and it was introduced for the Green and carpenters at the end of January.

As of February 1, the new Frame House was nearly roofed. But demand in the US is falling seriously. Owing to the coal shortage we decided to close the factory and the Lapping Room for a week. The beetles were also put on part time.

My son Harry Clark presented a report on the weaving factory after six months back under his management. The average daily number of looms working was up from 140 to 320. Some 130 learners were taken on. Cloth sales for the six months – at 86,341 – were the highest on record. As of January 31, the factory stock was 19,000 bundles. There was no cotton.

As of February 22, the awful weather was continuing. A goods train was snowed up for 13 days in Yorkshire. Industry was paralysed in Great Britain. Scores of works closed owing to coal shortage. Thousands of cattle and tens of thousands of sheep were lost owing to the great snow storm in Britain and Ireland. Many roads in Ulster were entirely blocked by snow. It was impossible to go from Coleraine to Portrush or Portstewart and all mountain roads closed. Ballycastle was isolated for three days.

On March 16, a great thaw started. In England, some 40 square miles of the Fens were under water.

In April, it was clear that the sellers’ market was disappearing. Unfortunately, we had huge stocks here and had bought over £800,000 worth.

As of May, we had the seat for the new boiler all ready and the steam pipes changed.

On June 28, William Pritchard died. He had been our head sample maker for 45 years.

In June, I noted that the Moneycarrie engines have idle or a long time, and the Mullamore ones for several years.

In July, there was a great financial crisis. The price of government stocks crashed, with 3-1/2 % War Loan falling from 108 to 102. Old Consolidated fell from 99 to 80. All stocks and shares down very seriously.

On August 18, we sent Mr Hurst on a six-month trip to Central and South America.

On August 22, there was a further great financial crisis, with British imports exceeding exports by £700 million monthly and the American Loan almost used up.

On August 28, H.E. Walker died. He had represented us in Vancouver for over 40 years. We appointed AM Thomson in his place.

As of August, which was a very hot month, we were only working the Green on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

On September 3, owing the coal strike and shortage of dollars, the stock markets crashed. Imperial Tobaccos down from £8 to under £5, and similar drops in all other shares.

On September 4, my son Tom sailed on the Queen Mary for New York and Canada. He found business very bad in Canada, as the Canadians are buying a Cotton & Hair Cloth at 40 ¾ cents, compared with the lowest price at which our 1331 can be landed, which is 58 cents.

In mid-September, our new Penman boiler arrived. It weighed 38 tons and as it would not go under the Queen’s Bridge, it had to be brought by the Great Northern Railway, via Portadown and Antrim.

There was now an extreme scarcity of linen and cotton goods and we were only able to run the Green about four days a week, and operate about half the beetling engines. None were working at Moneycarrie. In the weaving factory, we built a wall about six perches long, along the river.

In mid-September our London agent A.E. Davey died and we appointed his son in his place.

On October 1, John Given the loftman was moved from his old job to finishing shrunk ducks under Mr Francey. Mr Hanna was appointed in his place and made a vast improvement in the turn-off and finish. Beetlers that were heavily in debt in Given’s time are now earning big pay every week.


On January 18, a new "turnover" filter was ordered at a cost of £4,000 plus £130 for extras. A roof for the Filter House was ordered from Musgrave and Company.

In January, as an addition to the weaving factory,we decided to build a new wing, about 100 feet wide, on the north side. Our non-crush finish on rayons was approved by the Board of Trade and we started to make these goods in quantity.

My grandson Wallace Clark started to serve his time in the weaving factory.

My great-nephew Aubrey, after returning from the army, began the final stage of his apprenticeship.

On February 3, our new Penman boiler (30 feet, 200 lbs pressure, cost £3,000) started up.

On February 9, we had the worst gale since 1894. It blew down scores of trees about Upperlands, took the corrugated iron roof off the Recreation Hall and stripped many other roofs.

Also in February, a big fraud was discovered. It was found out that the old head loftman and several others were stealing quantities of linen.

On February 29, there was a serious fire in Ampertaine, the house where I grew up. Half of Upperlands arrived on the scene to carry furniture out.

As of April, huge business was being done in the departments run by my sons Willie and Brian. But it was clear that shrunk ducks have been entirely cut out by a new product. Our Finnish agent, Johnny Ahlmann, was here this month.

In May, most of the walls of the new wing of the factory were completed.

Also in May, JP Dumares died. He was buyer for Fisher's of Montreal and a very special friend of ours.

Also in May, it was calculated that our stock and commitments amounted to over £1m. At this time the US trade was practically dead for all goods. I think we have bought too heavily for all markets, and it was a great mistake to do so at the peak of the market when prices were about five times their pre-war levels.

On May 6, WJ Hemphill was killed in an accident at the Jubilee beetling engines.

On May 14, my son Willie returned from a Norwegian trip, via Bergen. He had sold over 4,000 webs.

On July 25, we began putting in a new filter which cost about £4,000.

As of August, the buying of linens from practically all markets, except the home trade, had stopped. The boiler that we bought on Forrester's bog in 1889, which had been used for storing hot water for many years, was taken out.

On August 27, my son Willie was appointed deputy leader of the Senate.

In September, the following beetling engines were working:

  • Jubilee 17
  • Lower
  • House 12
  • Mill 13
  • Road 14

This was a bad arrangement, as the Jubilee Fall, where 17 engines are working, is the same as the Lower House. So we are wasting water for lack of balance.

As of October, the price of linens was falling seriously. A quality such as 37-1/2 7x7 30/30 which cost cost 28d in December 1947 is now quoted at 24d.

As of November, it was noted that the goods for collar canvas was seriously down. On an average all linens are down 10% which, in view of our stock and commitments of £1m, will mean a loss of over £100,000, and there is probably more to follow.

On November 8, the directors agreed that all departments should stop buying unless absolutely necessary as we have over a year's supply of goods.

On November 9, a new stenter frame by Mather & Platt, which cost £5,000, started on trial work.


On February 6, Sam Collins junior joined the office staff. His father, uncle and sister are already working for us.

As of February 11, a new turnover filter had been working for about a month, making a marvellous improvement in all white goods.

As of mid-February the Upper House at Moneycarrie had been working for about two months after being idle for 12 years, and it is doing splendid work. Repairs to a breach in the race had not yet been completed.

We heard that John McKendry, who was our foreman finisher in 1880, was now aged 99 and living in Larne.

In March, second-hand Thompson dish-ended boilers were bought from Strand Spinning Coy for about £640, including a self-feeder, super-heater and valves. Taking it out and bringing it here cost £250.

In June, a new dining hall was built by the river opposite the factory. Also, at the top of the dams, the aqueduct trough at Lagan’s was thoroughly overhauled and piers were underpinned. On Boiler House roof, we started putting in columns and buildings walls for support.

As of July, a new wing for the factory was practically all finished, and already 16 of the new looms were working. A house for the heater, at the end of the Dundee Mangle House, was nearly finished. A great demand for hollands continues. All the beetling engines in Upperlands, except the Middle House, for which there was no drive, were working, as were 12 engines at Moneycarrie.

We have been driving practically all the beetling engines for about two months by oil engines, with the exception of an odd day, and this is costing about £12 a day.

In August, there was a spell of very dry weather which extended to the end of September. Since May we had been forced drive nearly all the beetling engines by oil.

On September 18, Sir Stafford Cripps announced tonight that the British pound is devalued from $4.03 to $2.80. As Belgium did not devalue the same day, the immediate effect of this was that spinners and weavers quoted drastically advanced prices and big orders were cabled from New York. However, Belgium devalued on September 20th, and prices immediately eased in Belfast. Large orders came from Robinson for both canvas and household goods.

In early November, the government began building 22 workers' houses at the back of the Boyne Row. The contractor is Taggart of Ballymoney. We now had the new roof of the Boiler House in the Green practically complete and have about 12 automatic looms running in the factory.

The devaluation of the pound bought us in a great amount of extra business from the USA and Canada. In Winnipeg a demand has sprung up for No. 11743 Linen Buckram, in soft finish, in a variety of colours.

Also in November, a new Swiss Schweiter weft-winding machine was put in. Two boys at it do the work of nine girls. About 50 looms were now working in the new wing of the factory. The Boiler House roof was now almost completed.

Also in November, we noted great demand from New York for cambrics and a revival of the demand from Canada for shrunk ducks. Also good demand from the USA (from Associated Merchandising Corp and others) for 1015HH dress linen with TBL finish. Owing to shortage of stock we had to refuse an enquiry for 1,000 webs of this cloth.

In December, a serious accident occurred to the gratings where water was admitted to the Green turbines. Because the boilerman had not cleaned the rack, no water was getting through from the full dam and the whole rack collapsed. The water drive was lost for four days. The total loss of time and water would be about £50.


On March 7, steam was first raised in the Thompson boiler in the Green. There was much demand at this time for our new unshrinkable permanent finish. We had now got many repeat orders for this finish and had applied for our patent. Without the patent we were not protected. This was probably one of the greatest discoveries ever made in the finishing of linens. It gives an unshrinkable and permanent finish on goods such as shrunks, dress linens. This finish was known as Upperlands Permanent Finish.

In May, we heard of the worst flood disaster in Canada for 120 years.

Also in May, at the Lower House, big repairs were done to the turbine. A new shaft was put in. New metal tops were put on the cistern leading to the turbine.

On August 1, Jack Robinson, our New York agent, died.

On August 26, the Derry Central Railway was closed for all traffic except goods traffic between Magherafelt and Kilrea.

July, August and September were the wettest months in living memory and much of the corn and potato crop was ruined.

As of October, our anti-shrink permanent finish was doing very well. Demand was growing by leaps and bounds all over the world. My son Brian sold over 2,000 webs on his visit to Denmark during this month, of which 500 were in the New Finish.

On October 19, a new coal-handling plant started and was a great success.

At the end of October, my nephew George Clark went out to New York and had a very successful trip. He looked into appointing an agent in succession to the late Mr Robinson.

In November, we had great hopes of a baking machine which we expected to start working in the Frame House during this month. The machine was delivered in July. There was a huge demand for linens all over the world and every weaving and spinning house was oversold for nine to 12 months.

By November, we had installed a large number of automatic looms and they were giving great satisfaction.

From mid-November till the end of the month there was an alarming advance in the price of linens. For example the price of 25s tow, which had been available for about 40 shillings two months earlier, rose to 51-52 shillings.

There was a fierce demand for goods from all quarters. My son Brian had a very successful trip to Denmark about the end of October, while my nephew Alexander and his wife set off on a world tour to visit Australia, New Zealand and South Africa via Panama.

On December 1, William H Muir was appointed New York agent.

On December 12, my brother Doctor Johnny Clark died in Kilrea,

In the week before Christmas, some 1066 webs came off our factory.


On February 2, owing to a very serious advance in the price of wool, which has now reached 320d per lb in Australia, our customers could not get supplies of hair cloth and are ordering large quantities of shrunk ducks in both the ordinary and our patent finish. Goods for hollands are now practically unobtainable and all our engines at Mullamore, Moneycarrie and half the engines at Upperlands are idle. Prices were soaring daily.

In February, my nephew Alexander Clark opened many new accounts and sent many good orders from Australia and New Zealand.

On April 6, my son Willie Clark and his son Billy left for a trip to Scandinavia.

On April 16, the old Howden engine started work in the New Engine House.

As of mid-April, there had been snow almost continuously on the mountains since the end of November. No corn or potatoes had been planted.

In May, one of the largest customers in Leeds wrote to us as follows: “We were very glad to get your invoice for 50 pieces of canvas, ducks and hollands and are pleased to hear that you have some more of these in looms. Please send these, or any similar qualities in any width, forward to us the minute they are ready. Don’t wait to send us samples or prices. We are extremely short of these goods at present.”

On May 28, my nephew Alexander and his wife Dorothy sailed from Freemantle for home after visiting Australia and New Zealand. Business in Canada and the USA has practically stopped for the last two weeks owing to the banks’ threat to close on customers.

As of July, there was a great stoppage in buying. For the past month hardly an order had come from the USA or Canada. Some big orders for dress linens have been cancelled and the other departments also find business practically dead. My nephew Alexander reports that the demand for hollands and buckrams had fallen badly in Australia and New Zealand.

In July, the value of linens was looking so high that they had practically priced themselves out of the market. Apart from the lack of buying in North America, we have had several cancellations from the Tailors Supply Company. Other departments have also had cancellations. I have warned so many times for the last five years of the danger of having too large commitments and stocks. I am afraid this will now cause a tremendous loss.

The Derry Central Railway has been closed for about 10 months with the exception of goods traffic from Magherafelt to Upperlands and Kilrea. But there were three trains from Magherafelt to Kilrea on the Twelfth for the Orangemen.

In mid-summer the ceiling of the Lapping Room and Sample Room was under-sheeted by Smyth Mills of Belfast, at a cost of about £2,000, to minimize heat loss.

On July 10, we worked out on the Economisers. We widened out the flue of the narrow part of the Economisers and had to take out one section of the Economisers that was leaking badly.

In August, a new steel and asbestos roof was put over about one-third of the beetling shed at Mullamore.

As of August, buying of linens in practically every country in the world had come to a complete stand-still largely due to woollen prices having dropped by a third as well as a substantial drop in cottons. Several firms in Canada and other places have asked us to cancel orders placed in February. Unfortunately the total stocks and goods bought by the company (our surplus) were enormous – about £1,600,00 – and I am afraid if we get many orders cancelled our loss will be very serious. During the last three years I have repeatedly pointed out that this catastrophe was bound to come sooner or later.

On August 1, we placed on order for building a new recreation club with Messrs Taggart of Ballymoney for about £10,000. The original estimate was about £14,000, but the government would only sanction £10,000.

On August 7, foundations for the new house were cut out and we paved a road in.

In September, a complete new reinforced concrete floor was put in the first floor of the old Brown Room.

On September 5, my grandson Wallace sailed on his first business trip visit to the States and Canada on the SS Samaria, heading for Quebec along with Mr Williamson. In Canada they found business almost dead. King had written that never in his 50 years’ experience had he known business to come to such a complete standstill. We had many requests to cancel orders, but in most cases refused to do so.

In September, there was a terrible drop in linen prices. Seldom in the long history of the trade had prices dropped so heavily. Loopbridge’s quotations received on September 21 showed a drop of up to 5d per yard on 39” collar canvas, and all other numbers are down in proportion. Buying has completely stopped in practically every country in the world.

On September 20, we had our first order for seven weeks. Wallace sent us an order, amounting to 37 webs, from Gauvreau Baudry, Quebec.

As of September 24, business was so completely at a standstill that Mr Williamson and Wallace were not able to book more than a few odd pieces in Quebec or Montreal. They went on to Toronto. Prices of 25’s were now down to the region of about 53/- and the crisis was growing daily.

In October, despite the gloomy picture in North America, total shipments actually amounted to the record figure of £167,000. Goods bought, however, came to over £150,000 and to this must be added wages, coal and many other items.

The most disturbing news was that Canada and the United States were still practically closed markets and many of our customers were asking us to put back very large shipments – in one case over £3,000 for Canada Pad – for 6 to 8 months ahead. I had always forecast that this would happen.


In January, prices of all linen goods had now fallen drastically. In one case 37-1/2 5x5 14/14 has fallen by £9 per web, so our loss on stock and commitments will be enormous. To make bad worse dozens of customers have cancelled orders. Although the number of webs on order is drastically reduced, stocks of these goods have greatly increased in the Brown Room.

We have lost several very large orders for hollands, owing to the Ulster Weaving Company and others quoting much lower prices, but the cloth being bought had only about half our beetling on it. Mr Hanna reported that he had to traverse off some hollands twice, taking five to seven hours for each web. I believe equal results could be obtained by a good calendaring, which would only take 4 to 5 minutes per web against five to seven hours. I am convinced that unless we get a cheaper finish we will soon have more beetling engines idle like Moneycarrie and Mullamore.

As of April 9, there had been further terrible price reductions. Unfortunately, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa have all ceased buying. Our Brown Room is full from floor to ceiling of goods that cost the peak prices and our loss will be terrible. This shows the terrible mistake that was made in May 1951 of buying hundreds of pounds worth of goods at peak prices, despite the decision recorded in the minutes book that we were to buy very sparingly and after consulting with each other. We are now only able to work the Lapping Room and Green three days a week and we have paid off over 60 hands it the Factory.

On April 19, we got a wire telling us of the death of Alec Stevenson. He was our oldest agent and has represented us in Glasgow for about 50 years. He was originally a partner in Hodge & Stevenson’s until Mr Hodge came to us about 1899. Prior to that we were represented in Glasgow for many years by William Forges.

In May, our Vancouver agent AM Thomson retired and we appointed Clarence Clark in his place.

On May 24, a record brown trout, weighing 13lbs was killed in the Small Dam by Harry Douglas Junior.

On May 27, prices were still falling. Trade had practically come to a stand still all over the world. We still have about 26,000 webs in the Brown Room and a total of about 76,000 webs and there will be a loss of £5 or £6 per web. The sale of Dress Linens and Rayons has practically ceased. We have not had an order from U.S.A. for weeks.

On May 29, we put in a new head sluice at Moneycarrie.

On June 15, a further alarming fall in prices. This week, there was a sale of 24-3/4 6x6 25/25 at 13d per yard.

In July, the new American Liner, the United States left New York on a Thursday and passed Ambrose Lightship early on Monday morning, having crossed the Atlantic in 3 days, 9 hours, 40 minutes, thus beating the Queen Mary’s record in 1932 by 10 hours.

On August 26, a Canberra jet crossed from Aldergrove in Northern Ireland to Newfoundland and back in less than 12 hours. It left Aldergrove at 6.35 am, arrived about 11, refuelled and flew back to Aldergrove in 3 hours and 26 mins, the shortest time in which the Atlantic has ever been crossed.

On August 30, my grandson David Clark started in the firm.

On September 2, a new British Legion club house opened today and this was celebrated by a large number of guests.

On September 3, our cousin A.L Clark died of heart disease at Rosapenna at the age of 85.

On September 25, we had a visit from our home trade agents. About 20 of them from Bristol to Dundee came first to Belfast, where they were met and were shown over the City Hall by the Lord Mayor and given drinks. Then they were taken to the Giant’s Causeway, put up at the Northern Counties Hotel and arrived here next morning. They saw all over our works and then we gave them a dinner in our new hall, which I think they all enjoyed immensely. Many of them had never been to Upperlands before.

On October 15, there was a terrible railway accident when the Perth Express to London ran into the rear of a local train and the Euston-Manchester train plunged into the wreckage of the other two trains.

In December, a complete set of 21 copper steam cans was put into the Dundee Mangle House, at a cost of £1,779.


In January there was a terrible disaster at Belfast airport when the plane from London, due in at 9 am, struck a building when landing and went on fire. Some 27 people were killed, including Thomas Haughton of Cullybackey. His wife was very seriously injured.

On January 28, a jet plane flew from England to Australia in 22 hours. The actual flying time wsa 19 hours. The previous best record about three years ago was 45 hours.

On January 31, there was a terrible shipping disaster off the Northern Irish coast. The Princess Victora left Stranraer at 7.15 and on leaving Loch Ryan she was hit by a terrible sea that broke the door and flooded her car deck. This made the ship helpless and she sank about five miles from Belfast Lough at about 3 o’clock. Some 132 lives were lost including Major Maynard Sinclair and Sir Walter Smiles, M.P. This was the worst shipping disaster of its kind in living memory. The same day and the next day the whole east coast of England from the Thames to Yorkshire was flooded, in some cases for 8 miles in.

On March 10, at the Jubilee beetling engines, one of the gear wheels that connect the oil engine to the main beetle shaft broke yesterday. Kane is repairing it and casting a new one.

In March, a small plot of ground belonging to the company was being delved and planted. This property was bought from the late Tommy Wright about a year ago and divided up between the company, George Clark and W.M. Clark.

On June 2, we celebrated the Coronation. Sports were arranged on the football field and in the evening a huge bonfire was lit close to the new recreation hall.

Also in June, we beganto add two additional wings to the original recreation building. Meanwhile work was starting on a hydro-electric scheme on the Bann. Experimental boring work has been carried on for some weeks at Carnroe. It was announced that the scheme has been passed and that extensive work will soon be started.

On September 28, my nephew George Clark left for Australia. He arrived on October 2 after an eight-hour delay in Darwin due to engine trouble. Two weeks ago my grandson Billy Clark flew to Switzerland and France and did some nice business in Paris.


This has been the mildest winter season for at least 70 years.

On March 13, my dear wife Alice had a severe stroke.

On March 17, she died, exactly 56 years after I had first brought her to Ardtara as a beautiful bride. She had been the star of my life and it is hard to realize that she has now passed away for ever.

On March 27, my great-nephew Dennis Clark started in the firm.

In April, we did a big repair job at the Moneycarrie beetling works. A whole new valley was put in between the workshop and the beetle house and new concrete sills, with rubber cushions, were put in under the nine engines, on the side next to the wall.

On May 5 my grandson Billy Clark obtained three samples of German-made rayon and hair cloth on a Scandinavian trip. A trial order for 10 webs of heavy cloth was placed with the factory in June and delivery started in September.

In June, F McWilliam was appointed the London agent for household goods.

This was the wettest June in living memory. Total rainfall for the month was more than three inches. We had floods in the river every few days.

William Beattie, who was previously our foreman pattern maker but has lived in Canada for 25 years, paid us a visit. He is now 77 and his wife about the same.

On June 22, Harry Douglas died. He had been our foreman tenter for about 40 years.

In October, my nephew George Clark left London by air for Australia, going via Singapore. He visited our agents in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Auckland and Wellington. He returned from Sydney by steamer to London and landed on February 4.

The whole so-called summer has been the wettest and the worst in living memory. Up to October 1 we had only used the oil engines at the beetling works two or three days, whereas the old average for ten years was 67 days annually. 

Rainfall was as follows (mm):

Total of the year50.32

Lavatories and wash basins were put in at Willie Judge’s Row and several other houses at the Jubilee. The demand for dress linens in the USA and Canada has greatly fallen this year and a German product is also taking the place of elastic canvas to a serious degree. A large number of our beetling engines have been idle for several years, including the Middle House, the Old End at the Lower House, the 18 Engines at Moneycarrie and the 14 at Mullamore.

On October 4, the Moneycarrie chimney was demolished by Rainey of Belfast, for which we paid them £75. They simply cut a lot of the bricks away until the chimney fell over.

On October 18 we had the worst flood since 1929. Although it did no serious damage here, it was almost up to the bridge at the weaving factory. In Ballymena there was 2 inches of water in the Braidwater Mill and in Omagh the water was 4 inches deep in the streets.

On October 20, we were shocked to hear that William Shields had dropped dead while having lunch with my nephew George Clark in Leeds. A wee round-faced man, he been our traveller since 1916 and prior to that he had been for about five years manager of our Belfast office. He had originally been with William M. Kirk & Co and had unrivalled knowledge of the linen business. Despite having reached the ripe old age of 79 he was still taking an active part as traveller up to the day of his death.

On October 30, the most serious dock strike in England ended and work was due to resume on Monday after a three-week stoppage. Over 300 ships were held up idle and several had to go back to Canada with cargoes of three to four thousand tons, because they could not be emptied. Thousands of tons of all kinds of perishable goods were rotting on the docks and over 100 motor cards were awaiting shipment. The strike was all due to a misunderstanding about whether overtime was compulsory or otherwise.

On November 20, there was the heaviest rainfall in Belfast for 50 years. Over two inches fell in a few hours and many streets were seriously flooded and traffic held up. Here, we had as large a flood as that of October 1929 and as we were afraid of the factory being flooded. My son Tom took the precaution of lowering our dams so they could absorb any serious flooding.

On November 30, there was a day of terrible disasters on land, sea and in the air throughout Great Britain and Ireland. A cargo liner coming from Canada foundered off Cork with a loss of about 30 lives. The gale off the coast of Pembroke exceeded 107 miles per hour. In one case a goods shed was blown down across the railway track. Hundreds of trees almost came over the bridge at the weaving factory and at Clonmore it was just like a sea.

In December, there were extensive experiments with finishes – sanforising etc. – on the new rayon/hair cloths for medium and lightweight cloth, but a satisfactory finish not produced until the following spring.

On December 13, we were sorry to hear that Moore Lodge, which has been in the Moore family (my wife’s family) since 1701, was going to be sold by auction. In the end the auction did not proceed.

On December 21, we saw the greatest storm in living memory. There was a terrible hurricane all over Great Britain and Ireland. Houses were blown down. All shipping was badly held up.


Since early January we have had the worst weather in living memory. In Scotland and the Orkneys hundreds of people were starving and had to be fed from the air by helicopters, all roads being impassable. Sheep were dying in thousands. In Ireland the roads were practically impassable.

On February 1, my niece Mary Clark, known as Mary George, died suddenly at Buswell’s Hotel in Dublin. (She was the daughter of my brother the Reverend George Clark.) My son Willie went to the funeral.

Number of persons employed by the firm at 21/01/1955:






Directors & Managers


As of February 22, we were counting the cost of some of the severest blizzards recorded in the British Isles. In Scotland, all roads and railways were blocked by drifts, they had to feed the people and animals from the air by helicopter.

On February 24, the bank rate was raised by 1% today to 4 ½% which is the highest for 23 years.

On March 3, my great-nephew Aubrey Clark left by air for New York and went on to Auckland via San Francisco. He visited Australian agents in Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. He sailed home on the SS Arcadia and landed at London on July 2. He had a very successful trip considering import restrictions in force at the time.

On March 8, my great-nephew Dennis Clark started in Manchester office.

On April 2, Mr Brown, who had been our consulting engineer for 43 years, died.

On April 6, Mr Churchill resigned and Sir Anthony Eden was appointed in his place.

In May, there was a heavy coating of snow on all the mountains in Northern Ireland.

On May 6, Parliament was dissolved; some 80,000 coal miners were on strike.

Also in May, I heard news of the old Gortin beetling houses. I can remember when there were two beetling houses at Gortin, about a mile below Moneycarrie. James Doherty told me that there were now only four engines in each. His father worked there, as did a man called Millar, who is the father of the Millar who now has a beetling plant near Castledawson. My uncle John A Clark worked those Castledawson engines for many years.

On May 28, over 70,000 railway footplate men stopped work. A general strike of dockers has been going on for a week in London, Liverpool, Hull and Manchester. Over 200 ships are lying idle.

On May 30, ministers went to see the Queen at Balmoral and she declared a state of emergency all over the country. Both the rail and dock strikes are still going on and hundreds of thousands of men will be out of employment next week, owing to the difficulty of getting coal. A fairly good temporary rail service has been organized, as there are over one thousand loyal drivers still at work. Some of our goods shipped on May 20 are still lying on the Liverpool docks. Three Atlantic Liners are held up in Liverpool owing to the strike of the stewards and other hands.

On June 14, the rail strike was settled.

On July 4, the dock strike ended after lasting six weeks. Over 150 Steamers were kept idle in the different ports and the Queen Mary and several other large liners were held up for over three weeks.

On July 5, a great heat was started. When it broke there were awful thunder storms and terrible rain. At Ascot there was a terrible thunder storm; 29 people were thrown to the ground by lightning and a woman was killed.

In the second half of July, we started with full dams and they have driven all the beetling engines up till Friday July 29. Virtually two weeks of stored water.

On July 21, my nephew George Wallis Newport Clark died. He had been one of our most efficient directors for over 30 years and will be greatly missed.

On August 4, an old company hand, Bob McClintock, died after being at work all day. He came to us in 1901 as an apprentice under Robert Montgomery and we appointed him foreman engineer in August 1914, when Montgomery died. He knew the run of every pipe sewer drain, electric and telephone line in whole place.

On August 19, my grandson David Clark sailed on the "Empress of Scotland" for Canada and the USA.

As of August 23, it was possible to have breakfast in London, lunch in New York, and supper again in London on the same day. Today a Canberra jet Plane left London at 7.10 am, was in New York at 3 pm, left half an hour later, and was back in London that night, having covered a distance of over 6,000 miles. Average speed on the outward journey (which only took about 6 hours) was over 550 miles per hour. The average speed for the whole run was 480 miles per hour.

In September, a big repair job done at the Jubilee beetling house. A clutch was taken out and repaired, also the shaft. The house was idle for about a month.

We did a very big job strengthening the bank between the Wee Dam and the river for about 50 yards above the long weir. We added 8-10 feet to the thickness of the bank on the dam side.

On September 22, a terrible hurricane struck the West Indies.

On September 25, my grandson Billy Clark attended the British Trade Exhibition at Copenhagen. We were represented on Berrum & Jorck’s stand where our new rayon/hair cloths were exhibited. Immediate interest was shown and bulk orders were telephoned from Copenhagen to Upperlands.

On October 14, we started to put in a new head sluice at Mullamore, but had great difficulty owing to the race being filled up and the water not getting away.

Also in October, there was great demand from the USA for 36” 7x7 30/30 linen elastic canvas. Gilmore is taking these goods out in 5 to 10 case lots, also C.B. Martin & Co, New York.

Also in October, we heard news of awful floods in India and Pakistan, with many villages completely washed away and thousands of lives were lost.

On October 24, James Ferguson passed away in the Braid Valley hospital, Ballymena.He originally came to us in 1897 and acted as my foreman in the construction of the great bank all round the Island Dam, also the making of Craig’s Dam and the Lapping Room Dam, in addition to his ordinary work as land steward.

As of November, the Scandinavian Trade in rayon/hair cloth was increasing monthly and several large users started giving us their business, preferring us to the German cloths. This cloth is finished with our Upperlands Permanent Finish and is taking the place of our old Wool & Hair and Cotton & Hair qualities, for which cloths the demand has been practically nil during the past two years.

On November 6, my sister Sarah Sweetnam, widow of the late Reverend George Sweetnam, rector of Killelagh, died in Portrush at the age of 95.

On November, our cousin Derek Clark, son of the late Jack Clark of Gravesend, Castledawson, died.


On January 4, at the Jubilee beetling engines, a new sluice was put in just where the water enters the turbine pit. We found the old wooden bean that carries the gable wall of the turbine house absolutely rotten and had to take it out and renew it with a steel beam. The whole works had to be driven by oil for 10 days. When doing this job a lot of water overflowed from the small drain on the top of the bank just below the turbine and brought down about 100 tons of earth and stones. We are now putting in a strainer in the pipe to prevent its being choked again.

On January 5, my nephew Alexander and his wife Dorothy sailed on the SS Winchester Castle for South Africa. They appointed J.L. Clark (no blood relation) as our new agents for Johannesburg with branches throughout South Africa. Turnover was trebled in the first year, partly due to large orders for Hyron Hair Cloths. They returned on the SS Edinburgh Castle and landed at Southampton on April 10.

On February 22, my son Brian left on a trip to South America and the West Indies. He flew to New York and and from there went to Caracas where he stayed till March 5. He arrived in Jamaica on March 6 and left there for Haiti on the March 9. After spending two days in ?Santiago he flew to Havana on March 20, and arrived in New York on March 21. Unfortunately, owing to a terrible snow storm missed his plane connection for London and had to remain there until the following day. He left New York on March 22 and flew at night to London.

On February 27, our Glasgow agent Don Stevenson died.

On March 29, George Frazer died. He had been our foreman lapper for about 50 years and originally came from Kirks. He is succeeded by his son Alfred as foreman lapper.

In April, the superheater of No. 2 Boiler was fitted with a complete new set of tubes.

Also in April, the Road Engines turbine was dismantled and completely overhauled. The shaft was found to be very badly worn in the draught tube bearing and at the stopping gland. The runner was perfect, but the packing strip ring was worn to a regular knife edge.

On April 5, my grandson David Clark married Gillian Atkinson at York and the honeymoon was spent in Majorca.

On May 1, there was a small fire in the Lower House beetle works. The Maghera Fire Brigade did a splendid job in getting the fire under control. We received a cheque for £452 in respect of the damage from the Northern Assurance Company.

On May 15, the home trade department started selling Rayon & Hair Cloths in South Africa as a result of my nephew Alexander’s visit, and the product was gradually developing a considerable trade in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

On May 30, Harry Jackson Clark died at Ardtara.

His funeral took place on June 1, conducted by the Reverend Hamilton Swain, BA, DSO, DSC and the address was given by the Lord Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Dr R McNeil Boyd.