The Great War

Harry records the First World War.

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On August 4, England declared war on Germany. The immediate effect was to put money up to 10%. All banks closed for three days. Liverpool, Fleetwood and Heysham Steamers stopped sailing. Panic in linen market, goods rose ¾ d per yard inside a week. Stock Exchange closed in England, America.

America, fearing a great shortage of yarns, bought goods (chiefly Paddings and Ducks) enormously. This was due to the supply from Belgium, which had been invaded, being cut off. McLeod, New York, ordered 50 cases 7x7 25/25 Paddings and 3,000 pieces of Canvas and Shrunks. American customers all stopped paying for two months, as the rate of exchange was prohibitive.

In September, the exchange rate was lowered to 4.94 US dollars per pound.

On October 1, my son Thomas Jackson Clark commenced to serve his time in this business, aged 16-½ years.

In October, linen prices were still advancing enormously. 25’s Tow up to 9 shillings. There was a huge demand for any heavy linen for soldiers kit bags. We sold thousands of webs of 27” and 31” 10x7, 11x8’s or any other heavy goods we had in stock.

Hollands for government - orders placed for 10,000 web lots of 34” 9x10 35/40 natural Holland. These were largely done in the mangle finish, not beetled.

In December, prices were still advancing weekly.

36” 9x10 up from 4-1/8d to 6-¼d.

On December 16, a great German attack on Scarborough, town shelled. Fortunately, I had taken my daughter Norah away from there a week before the raid.

On December 25, the largest flood in living memory in this river came over the head sluices and burst the small dam. Below the Lower House the river and the race became united, and at the mill engines the water was 6” up on the beetle faces.


In February, Alexander Maxwell Clark [my nephew] commenced business.

All labourers had been working for the last two months [to repair] the great damages done by the flood. The race was burst above Lagans [scutch mill] and also below the Jubilee in Kinney’s field, where we built the present strong stone wall.

In April, we commenced business in Norway and Sweden, also Switzerland and appointed agents: Hans Bollag for Switzerland, Jens Kittelsen for Norway and Heymann & Holmberg for Sweden. We got very large orders for elastic canvas.

In July, four of the eight new Engines at the Corn Mill first started. We also commenced to build a new bridge for the County road over the race at the Mill. The County Council contributed £50. I got this bridge made double its former width.

In August, owing to a great advance in prices of Linens, Union goods [cotton-linen mixtures] now came largely into demand. Mr J. Gilmore of D.W. McLeod, New York, spent ten days here with me and bought 10,000 webs. There was a huge demand for Paddings from USA.

In October, a new Fielding & Platt Gas Engine put in at Jubilee. Several Office hands got their commissions: Tom Boston, G. Houston, W.H. Kane. Two of those who had joined earlier were killed; W. Montgomery, son of our Foreman Engineer, was killed in Gallipoli, and G. Groogan was shot in France by a German sniper.

In November, prices still advancing about 1/8d every week. We were shipping over £7,000 worth of linens every month to McLeod, New York.

South American trade started this month.

In December, the shipments to America and Canada amounted to £24,000 and the total shipments £50,000.


Alfred McCarrison, who was one of our directors and our famous traveller died, age 32 years. He had been with us for fifteen years, first six years in the Belfast Office, and then he travelled twice a year to the USA, Canada, as well as selling to the home trade. He succeeded Robert Hodge who died in 1911.

In February, there was a tremendous demand for linens for aeroplanes and we made large quantities here.

We now appointed Mr William Shields, formerly Manager of the Belfast Office to succeed Mr McCarrison as traveller, and R. Erskine from Ewart’s came to the Belfast office.

In March there was huge demand from the USA for all numbers of Paddings finished by the Grosvenor, also low Shrunk Ducks like 7x7 30/30, 7x7 25/25, etc, were selling in enormous demand.

In April, timber prices advanced from £12 for 120 planks to £50.

Mr Flynn came here. He had been at Lisnafillan for many months.

On April 13, Sir Roger Casement tried to land arms on the Irish coast on a German cruiser which was sunk.

On April 24, a great rebellion broke out in Dublin and half the city was burned or blown up.

As of May 1, business practically stopped, no mails from USA, Canada, or even England for a week, as mail boats were all conveying troops to Ireland.  All letters were censored.  No telegrams or telephone messages were allowed in Ireland for two weeks.

This year, we had great trouble getting goods across to Liverpool, as all the steamers had been withdrawn for carrying troops, shells etc.

An enormous advance in price of Black Dye, up from 9d a pound in 1914 to 16/- a pound now.

Zeppelin raids were being made on the English coast nearly every night.

Mr A Heymann, our Swedish Agent, spent a weekend here.  He was now doing a large business in Sweden.

In May my son TJ Clark took over management of the Canadian business.

Mr Henning Jorck was by now doing a very large business in Denmark, and this was being managed by my son WMW Clark.

On May 31, the geat naval battle of Horn Reef, later named Jutland

In June, with the allies now commencing to gain the upper hand, prices of linens fell to some extent.

By July, prices were all down about 3/8d per yard, and buying from practically all countries stopped.

We appointed Sylvian Bernhaardt as our first agent for Russia, but no business resulted.

In August, there was extremely hot weather. Several hundred pounds worth of 8x7 30/30 and 9x8’s that were left lying wet at the Jubilee became quite rotten.

Owing to the enormous advance in all finishing stuffs – dyes, coating etc – price for finishing Hollands was advanced from ¾ d per yard to 1 ½ d per yard.  Linens were now so dear that the demand for fine Hollands dropped off entirely and we were left with considerable stocks.

In September, all American business stopped, as prices were still falling.  This is important information and should be a guide to the younger generation in future years.

In October, prices were still falling terribly, 25’s tow down from 16 shillings to 13 shillings.

By November, prices again began to advance.  25’s tow went up from 12/3d to 12/6d.

Cottons now largely in demand and we put in our first slasher.

The advance in prices caused renewed buying on a heavy scale from all quarters, and prices jumped from 1d to 1-½ d per yard.

Great demand from the government for linens for covering hangers for aeroplanes.

Trade in Norway, Denmark and Switzerland was now growing very rapidly.  In November, we shipped £4,700 worth to these countries.

On November 20, Joe Davidson left.  He had been here for about 23 years in our American department. 

In December, a new Gas Engine ordered for the lower house. 


On January 8, [my nephew] George Wallis Clark entered the business.

My son WMW Clark, aged 20, was now in full charge of our trade with Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, etcetera, and the business was growing by leaps and bounds the turnover having exceeded £5,000 per month.

On January 13, Mr Shields sailed out on his first visit to America and had a very good trip.

In February, a large Boiler by Penman, for 160lbs pressure, was put in at the Green, also a new Gas Engine for the Road Engines.

In March, Joe Simpson, who had been for many years with us, left.

On April 2, a serious accident in the Green resulted in the death of Robert Crossett, who was caught in an unprotected shaft.

On April 8, daylight saving time began for the first time.

America declared war on Germany.

On April 30, David Kane, who was managing the Green, left.

During April, we had the worst weather for the season in living memory, there being heavy snow everywhere, even at Portrush it was 4” deep. By the 11th the railways here were all blocked and no trains had reached Upperlands by 2 pm.

Also in April, my son TJ Clark commenced to manage the American Business, and was very successful.

On May 5, there was a submarine battle off Portrush. The windows there were broken by the cannon shots.

Robert Saunderson, our famous finisher, came here.

Also in May, WE Squire, who managed the factory for many years, left; Mr White came in his place.

In June, a premises was built for new Gas Engine at Lower House.

In July, a great advance in the price of cottons, now 24d per lb. Linens also advanced further in sympathy.

Timber very difficult to get even with a permit, which was always necessary.

In October, demand from America and Canada fell off badly, but the Home Trade kept quite good.

In November, one of the greatest floods for many years came into the weaving factory and damaged large quantities of yarns.

On November 10, we got news of the revolution in Russia, and prices of flax again advanced seriously, 25’s went up to 25 shillings a bundle and cotton rose to 30-½ d per lb.

In December, prices of linens were advancing by leaps and bounds, largely due to the Russian Revolution and the great shortage of shipping.

The government, now fearing a shortage of linens for aeroplanes, took control of all flax and yarns and a permit was necessary for any purchases.


On January 4 , we bought Lilley’s farm for £2,550.

On January 9, my son Thomas Jackson Clark enlisted in the Inniskilling Fusiliers.

On January 10, all the workers and managers presented him with a special address before going to the war, and also [sent a message of congratulations] to WMW Clark on his coming of age. It was signed by:-

R.A. Moody
A. Bingham
W.G. Flynn
William Shields
R. Erskine
George Frazer
Robt. Montgomery
James Ferguson
James Stewart
Joe Stewart
Robert Johnston

On March 18, TJC got his commission and returned home, but had to leave again on 25 March, for London. On April 12, he went to St. Omer, France.

As of March, prices of linens and unions were advancing enormously owing to great scarcity of flax and cotton. One government order was placed for 85,000 webs 28 ½” Ducks to finish 27”, 3 ¼ per yard was paid for finishing these goods, simply dyeing them khaki colour, and a few hours beetling.  

On March 18 I went with my son WMWC to Dundee and we sold nearly 5,000 webs to McLeods, Bissets, and Jas F. White.  We went to see the Fleet at the Forth Bridge

Also in March, there was a great German offensive.  The Allies were driven back to within eight miles of Amiens.  Many were killed from here in the great battle, including Privates Cushley, Porter, Tom McIllroy.

The government placed another order for over 33,000 webs 28 ½” 12x7 to finish 27” Shurnk Duck.  1 15/16d was paid for merely finishing these.

On April 19, I sent with my son WMW Clark and nephew AM Clark to see about their joining the war, but were strongly advised to stay at home, as we were doing such very important work making linens for the government. 

In May, a new Penman boiler, 16lbs pressure, was installed.

A new beetling unit at Lower House was now being built by Evans of Bellaghy.

In June, we got a government order for 500 webs 36” 9x10, to be made in our own factory.  Prestons  supplied the yarns.

On July 16, a 68 hp Gas Engine by Fielding & Platt started at the Road Engines.

On July 24, the lower-house gas engine made by Fielding & Platt started at the road engines.

A great strike was called by the Workers’ Union because we dismissed a starcher.

On September 8, our famous finisher Barney McKinney died aged 86. He had been our foreman finisher for 40 years.

As of September, we were largely making cotton hollands and buckrams. Trade in the USA and Canada was now very quiet.

On September 13, the first fine day for more than five weeks.

On September 28, my son Second Lieut. T.J. Clark returned the first time on leave from France. He had been stationed at Saint Omer and later at Doullens, Rheims.  He was seriously ill for some time after returning home and in bed for five weeks with flu.  Peace was declared before he had to return to France.

On November 5, a great influenza epidemic.  Over twenty people died about here, including four of the McGuckin family and two of James Ferguson’s daughters.

There was a great strike of practically all hands, except the office hands.

The largest flood for many years, it was 4 feet deep in the Factory.  Great damage was done to the Jubilee race.  

On 11 November, the Great War ended at 11 am.