1918 - 1923
On November 14, a strike which had broken out on November 5, involving all employees except the office hands, was settled.
On November 18, a new Gordon Francis Turbine put in at the Jubilee.
In December, all trade came to a complete stand-still and nearly all orders on our books were cancelled, leaving us with an enormous stock on which there was a terrible loss.
On December 5, Lieutenant Tom Boston, who had been for several years in our American Department, died in Cairo.
As of December 29, trade was still absolutely dead. The government had fixed the price of flax at £360 per ton for best quality, and £280 for lower grades.
As the year started, no orders were coming in for any departments. Cottons dropped from 54d a lb to 20d. Linens would have dropped as badly, but fortunately the trade was organized by the Association and a minimum price fixed.
In February, prices continued to fall and trade very dead.
On March 26, I left with my son Willie to sail on the SS Mauretania for New York on three month sales trip. There was great difficulty getting passports.
On March 31, my son and I left Southampton, calling first at Brest, France. Admiral Simms of the USA was on board and questioned us about Irish linens.
On April 7, we arrived in New York and found business practically dead as everyone was selling their stocks at any price. After a week, however, conditions completely changed and there was a huge demand and large orders for paddings and shrunks were booked. This was my son Willie’s first trip to America, and he booked huge orders from McLeod. Hotel life was very expensive in New York - $7 for a room at Hotel Wilcott, and $3 each for breakfast in the Coffee Shop.
After being in New York we noticed that prices commenced to rise very rapidly. The North American trip included: Philadelphia, Washington, Boston, St. John, Halifax, Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Niagara, Detroit, Chicago. From there we started on the Santa Fe Railway for California. A round trip ticket from Toronto cost $347.20 (about £43-10) each, and took us all through the west and back to Toronto. From Chicago we went to Kansas City, The Grand Canyon, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Venice, Ocean Park.
On May 30, we left San Francisco.
On June 2, we arrived in Portland, Oregon. Next Seattle, then Victoria in British Columbia, then Vancouver, where where we spent several days, thence through the Rockies.
On June 16, we reached Sicamous. Then Lake Louise, Banff, and Calgary, where W.R. Brock’s account was opened.
On June 20, a great strike broke out in Upperlands because James Canning would not join the union.
On June 21, we arrived in Winnipeg in the midst of a great strike. We then travelled onto Fort William by rail, then down the Great Lakes to Port McNicholl and Toronto, going on same night to Montreal, and sailed for home the following day.
On June 28, we left on the SS Scotian. Going down the St Lawrence we were delayed for two days and two nights by huge icebergs.
On July 9, we arrived in Liverpool.
On July 18, new beetling engines at the lower house were first started.
Also in July, Mr McKinney came here as weaving factory manager.
In August, we had visits from William McClure, our New York agent, and Charles King of Montreal.
In September, Mr Fullerton, new dyer, came to Upperlands, and J.S. Williamson came to the Belfast office.
On October 20, my sons William and Tom started for Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium on their first trip, which was most successful.
By November, prices were advancing wildly but goods almost unobtainable, 25s tow up to 45 shillings a bundle. In December they reached 60 shillings.
On November 23, William and Tom returned from Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
In December, we bought our first Motor Lorry – a Ford one ton.
Trade in all countries still booming, and prices of linens and cottons advancing. We sold Hollands up to 40d. per yard for 36” 9x10 and 6x5 ½ 25/25 shrunk ducks at 25d, 10x7 25/25 at 40d. Owing to these high prices the demand largely centred round lower numbers such as 6x6 25/25. Paddings were selling in huge quantities, 7x7 30/30 was the best number. Coal advanced to 48 or 50 shillings per ton on rail at Belfast.
On April 1, my son Tom began his first trip to America.
On May 6, a 50 HP gas engine by Fielding & Platt was put in at Moneycarrie.
I made a trip to London, Brussels and Paris.
In July there was a a dramatic fall in prices of linens. All buying stopped, 25’s tow yarns reduced from 72 shillings to 53. Trade practically dead, not a single order coming in.
In August, trade was absolutely dead, with our shipments down by one half.
In September about half our beetling engines and frames were idle.
In October, spinners decided to bring yarns down to the price quoted in Belgium and France, 39 shillings for 25’s. This caused great alarm, and a terrible loss to all who held stocks. We had 50,000 webs in stock and made a huge loss. Customers in all parts cancelled their orders. We were holding £28,000 of goods for McLeod, New York, but they would not take delivery.
On October 3, we had the largest flood for many years. The Head Sluices burst, and the factory and beetling engines were all flooded. The Jubilee race burst.
In October, Mr Hilton, our dyer, came here from Stevensons. At the Lower House we began taking out the old water-wheel which had been working there for 80 years and replaced it with a turbine.
As of October 21, a terrible slump in prices was continuing. The Lapping Room was working only three days a week, the Green and Factory about the same.
In November, the beetling engines were all off for four weeks putting in new Frances Turbine by James Gordon & Sons.
The Linen Household Piece Goods Association was of great use to us in preventing some customers from repudiating contracts. Without it we would have lost thousands more.
As of December 1, trade was still dead. Shipments over the past months were only £23,000.
On December 8, a new turbine at the Lower House was started.
As of December 17, we observed a further terrible fall in the price of linens, by about 33-1/2%.
There was a further terrible fall in the price of linen. A 25 two-warp yarn that had been 72 shillings was now reduced to 20 shillings. This reduction was made by Irish spinners because the Belgian and French spinners would not keep the agreement they made to hold prices until March 31. We had a stock of over 49,000 webs on which there was a terrible loss. Linen piece goods dropped terribly; for example, 24-3/4 6x6 25/25 that previously cost 24-1/2d now only worth 12d. We lost on not only on our stock, but on thousands of webs that were due to customers who cancelled their orders. We stood to lose over £4 on every web we had. We, of course, wrote our stock down to the lowest level at stock-taking, otherwise we would have been ruined by taxation, both ordinary tax and excess profits debit.
In February, demand from America grew slightly better. We got an order for 210 webs 24-3/4 inch Shrunk Duck at 16d from William Alsberg & Co. Also 40 webs 9x10 natural holland, 150 webs of 7x7 25/30 shrunks, and the Home Trade was also slightly better. We still had nearly all the works closed down three days each week, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We had been on a three-day week all winter.
In March, a great coal strike began and lasted till b. We were only able to work the Green three days a week. We were paying £4-10 to £5 for a very inferior American coal. We bought huge quantities of wood for the boilers from Garvagh demesne. We saw the greatest drought for many years, which lasted for months.
In April, my sons William and Tom Clark and my nephews George and Alexander Maxwell Clark were appointed directors.
In June, my sons Tom and Willie sailed on the SS Thule from Tilbury for Gothenburg and visited Stockholm, Helsingborg, Landskrona, Malmo, Copenhagen, Christiania and Bergen, and booked a large number of orders.
In b, my son Harry Francis Clark began study at the Technical Institution in Belfast, before starting his apprenticeship with the firm in September.
Also in July, weavers' wages were reduced by 20%.
This was the first season for thirty-one years when we did not shoot grouse on the mountain.
In September, my son Tom Clark sailed on the SS Cameronia for New York, single passage cost £53. When in New York he sold large quantities of 36” Union Pongees and Dress Linens. The Pongees were made by Loop Bridge Weaving Factory from dyed yarns and mercerised and we only had to shrink in one inch and beetle them for 18 hours. Cloth cost 17 ¼d. and sold at 18 7/8d.
In October, prices were advancing again, with 25s up to 18 shillings. The coal price dropped to 34 shillings a ton.
In December, all wages, except lappers, reduced by four shillings a week.
On December 29, James Boylan, who had been a beetler for 35 years died.
Also in b, Gault Brothers, the famous house in Montreal, went out of business. We saw a great many bad debts this year.
Trade in the USA was very bad. Exchange rate was $4.38 to the pound.
On April 6, my son Willie sailed for Denmark.
On August 19, my sons Tom and Harry sailed in the SS Baltic for New York. They visited Boston, St. John, Halifax, Quebec, Montreal and out as far as Chicago.
As of August, the home trade was much better, with a good demand for linens.
Many improvements were made about the Green, namely to the intake of the turbines. Boiler pumps were changed and a new water meter erected.
On b, William McClure, our New York agent, resigned. I met him in Belfast and arranged for him to give up our agency next b. We are then going to be represented by James Gilmore, who will sell direct to the clothiers. Mr Gilmore had been for many years buyer for D.W. McLeod & Co.
In b, a new three-storey cloth-storage room was erected in the Green. The mason work was done for £350 by Docherty, Mason, Coleraine. A fourth storey in brick was added later. At this time trade was very bad and prices falling.
On October 21, my sons Tom and Harry returned in the SS Columbia from an extensive trip to the USA and Canada, lasting two months.
In November, we completed the raising of the banks of Craig's dam.
My son Willie went to Denmark, Sweden, Norway and France and had a very successful trip. He dismissed our Swedish agents – Heyman & Holmberg – and appointed Victor Ross as our agent. He also dismissed Jens Kittelson, our former Norwegian agent, and appointed Mr Borjeson, (pronounced ‘Boyerson). He taught Sonja Henye to ski.
On December 11, Willie got back from Denmark and flew in a Handely-Page aeroplane to Paris same day.
As of December 20, trade was very good and we were working overtime, although Belfast houses were idle or on short time.
On January 6, Tom sailed the SS Baltic for a two-month trip to the USA and Canada. He got a good many orders. Linens counting under 112 threads to the square inch, if over 4-1/2 ounces to the square yard, paid 55% duty. If over 112 threads it was only 40%. If it was under 4-1/2 ounces, the rate was 35%.
In February, we recorded that the last two months had been exceptionally mild, and hedges were all green. The first electric motor to drive frames put in. The old Corn Mill converted into dwelling houses.
In March, the building of a new four-storey Brown Room (cloth-storage area) was completed.
As of April, there was a great demand for dress linens. We sold 3,000 pieces, chiefly 1325, through Mr Keating of Manchester, to Lederer of New York. Goods cost 8-5/8d and sold at 11-3/4d, made by Loop. Also 1000 pieces 45” 6x6 25/25 mercerised.
On May 23, my son Willie went to Holland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. By now trade was very good, we worked three to four nights’ overtime during the week.
On June 6, some 6,000 pieces of coloured dress linen were sold to Lederer of New York by Tom. But we lost hundreds of pounds by wrong treatment of these dress linens. Before dyeing them, a worker boiled them, with 1lb of soda to a web weighing 25lbs, and then mill-washed them and later he dodged them in Mango. Later on it was found that all this extra work was unnecessary and we were able to dye them quite as well without any treatment.
On June 18, a bridge over the Wee Dam for the road to Moore’s Fort was finished.
In July, we commenced to build new dodging house.
Enormous orders for dress linens were coming in from the USA.
Barney McKinney's old house in the Green was pulled down. It had been there for over 100 years; at one time it was lived in by both Barney and his brother, David, who was also a finisher.
In August, a new house for barking and dyeing was being built near the old workshop. At this time we had orders on our books for over 15,000 webs of dress linens.
On October 28, the building of Tom's house began.
On October 29, a new dye house for coloured dress linens was completed. We worked day and night building this house.
In November, a new boiling pot was bought from Kirks, Annvale, for £85.
On November 18, my son Willie returned from Paris to London by air. He found hair cloth largely in demand and cutting badly into canvas trade.
On December 4, my son Tom married Eileen Campbell in Ballycastle.
1924 - 1929
In January, dress linens were still in great demand. We were finishing 1,000 webs per week. Every factory in Ulster was busy making dress linens. We were selling largely to James F White, Charlie Brown, McBratney, Sullivan Smythfield, Greenshields, MRA Brock. Lederer bought 20,000 webs in Belfast. Mr Keating from Lederer came here and offered us an order for 10,000 webs of 1325, but we could only manage 1,000 at 13-1/4d as were over-sold. This great demand was due to cotton in the USA being dear and scarce, our dress linens paying 60% duty were cheaper in the USA than cotton. We were getting 2-1/4d for commission dyeing and finishing the goods.
In February, a great advance in the price of all linens due to enormous demand from the USA and Canada for dress linens. The 37-1/2 6x6 25/25-3/4 bleached quality that we bought in December at 8d. was now up to 9-3/4d and the price of 7x7 25/25 was also enormously advanced.
On February 18, a great dock strike began. All ports in Great Britain were closed.
On February 30, Jack Williamson, our Belfast office manager, returned from a successful trip to the USA.
In June, Mr and Mrs Gilmore from New York spent a week here and placed large orders.
As of June 14, we were trying to get rights to put in a turbine and dynamo at Kilrea. The County Council granted us permission to carry the electric cables up along the road.
In July, the building of Rockwood House for my son Harry was nearly completed.
On July 2, my nephew Alexander Maxwell Clark married Dorothy Lopdell.
In August, great demand from the USA and Canada for dress linens, as well as from Australia, continues.
On September 10 F.C. King, our Montreal agent, and Mrs King came here for a week.
Also in September, a new 20 hmp turbine by Gordon was put in at the Upper House in Moneycarrie. Vat-dyeing dress linens first started here.
In October, a new wing at the Middle House was commenced and the race was altered to suit.
On October 9, there was a terrible fire at the business of our cousins, J.A. Clark of Castledawson, which burned 14 beetling engines, the entire Lapping Room, stock rooms, stores and offices. We helped out with goods and finishing.
On October 24, a mercerising mangle by Mather & Platt was started. A new electric elevator to the cloth-storage room was erected.
On January 3, my son Tom sailed from Liverpool to New York, where there was still a great demand for dress linen, but a month later there was a great fall in demand.
On March 7, I left with my son Brian and Colonel Moore-Irvine on the SS Orama from Tilbury for a Egypt. We went via Gibraltar, Toulon, Naples, Port Said (staying at the Marinos Hotel), then left for Cairo, where we stayed at the Shepherd’s Hotel from the 12th to the 30th. Booked considerable business with Mr Danon, our agent. We then went to Mina House at The Pyramids, rate 120 piastres daily, including room and food, which was much cheaper than Shepherds Hotel. Later we went to Alexandria, (Claridges Hotel, rate 90 piastres for bed and breakfast). We called on all the houses there and on Monday (29th) started for Port Said, sailing home on the SS City of Baroda.
On April 16, we arrived back in Tilbury. A new wing for the weaving factory, on the west side, was started while we were away.
On April 29, my son Harry married Sybil Stuart in Portrush.
On May 10, we began building two new dwelling-houses (two-storey) at the Middle House. These cost £300 each and we got a government grant to assist us.
My son Harry was appointed manager of the factory, while McKinley was appointed manager of the Green.
On June 12, a Howden Triple Expansion Engine was bought for the Green, at a cost of £400, second hand.
In August 19, a big piece of work done at the Jubilee trough under river; we covered both sides and top with concrete and did a long-lasting job.
On September 21, the old Middle House was closed down to take out the water-wheel and put in a new Gordon turbine. Mrs Danon, wife of our Alexandria agent, was here at that time.
On October 20, my son Willie set out on a trip to Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Holland.
In November, there was good demand for 42" 6x6-1/2 25/25 Vat Dyes. We sold Eatons 350 pieces at 15d. a yard.
On November 30, the Middle House was restarted.
In the first half of this year, I made a round-the-world trip with my son Brian. See American Travels.
During my absence, I found that three new workers' houses were built by Charters near the Middle House, for which we got a grant of £60 each from the government, and no rates to pay for five years.
In September, we put in a concrete water aqueduct in place of the old wooden one, on the race coming into Craig’s Dam. The dam was also raised by four feet.
As of October, a great coal strike which had started on May 1 was still on.
On October 8, we had to close the Green down. We bought 40 tons of wood from Knockloughrim at £2 per ton, also a large quantity at 14 shillings per load in Garvagh demesne. We were paying £4 a ton, plus carriage for any coal we could get.
In October my son Willie made a very successful trip in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
As of November 1, the price of coal was up to £5 per ton. We were burning 12 tons of wooden blocks daily as a substitute, the price of these was now up to 37 shillings per ton delivered.
In November, eight new wide looms were put into the factory.
Also in November, the Scandinavian trade in rayon/hair cloth was increasing monthly and several large users started giving us their business against the German cloths. This cloth is finished in our Upperlands permanent finish and is taking the place of our old Wool & Hair and Cotton & Hair qualities, for which the demand has been practically nil during the past two years.
On November 29, the coal strike ended after nearly seven months.
On December 3, a new Howden steam engine was started for trial run only.
In January, we placed our first order for linen damasks with Compton’s of Armagh, through W.S. Moore, the agent, about £800 worth. We were now busy erecting a new bleach house and concreting roads about the Green. Dress linens were again selling in the USA. We got some orders for 400 and 600 webs each at 9d for colours. We were now dyeing 500 webs of vat-coloured dress linen for the T Eaton company.
On January 28, the worst storm since 1894; great damage done all round the place, after a gale of 97 miles an hour.
In March prices advanced by 1d per yard due to shortage of flax.
On April 22, my son Willie started on a trip through Norway, Sweden and Denmark. He returned from Switzerland and Holland three weeks earlier.
In June, new continuous bleaching plant was started, also washing machines.
In July, Henning Jorck, our Denmark agent, was here, also McMahon from Australia.
In August, we began roofing in the space between Lapping Room and the building used for a Fireproof Booksafe.
On August 27 my son Tom sailed for Quebec on the SS Meletic.
In September, a great advance in the price of linens and cottons. Big orders were coming in for 37-1/2 6x5 ½ 25/25 for dress linens costing 7-7/8d to 8-1/8d.
In October, the South American agent, Mr Marsh, was here. We began converting the old kiln into workers' houses.
In December, my son Willie left for Vienna, his first trip there.
At the Middle House, three additional engines were almost ready to start. They were taken out of the road engines.
In December, the Lapping Room dam was raised two feet and two new houses at the end of the Boyne Row were built by Charters, Contractors. Price £400 each for building. We supplied all the material.
In January, my son Brian started on his first trip to Switzerland, accompanied by his sister-in-law Zelie and they did some ski-ing. At that time, the linen trade was generally very bad and there were numerous failures. Thos & Sons of Cookstown and many others went out of business.
On January 15, a large new corrugated iron shed was erected in front of the siding in the Green.
Also in January, an extra Howden steam engine of 100 mp was erected for electric light.
On March 4, my son Brian set out for Sweden, Norway and Denmark on his first trip, which was most successful.
In August, a very wet month, trade was very bad. Some 35 firms have gone out of the trade entirely during the last few years, and at present there are 16 spinning mills and 25 weaving mills which have closed down in Belfast and district. The USA is now taking 50% less linen than a year ago.
On October 5, my son Willie left for Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and Holland.
On November 2, Jim Cuskeran, one of our oldest and most respected beetlers, who had been for many years working at the Lower House, died. The only other very old hands about the place are David Henry, Anthony Tohill, Dan Tohill and J Craig.
On November 27, my nephew Noel Clark and his wife sailed on the SS Nestor for Australia.
On December 11, we started work in the new Lapping Room and offices.
On January 20, my son Brian left forParis, Switzerland and Vienna. On that day we bought the production facilities and land at Mullamore for £1,350 which includes all water-rights, 16 beetling engines, 22 workers’ houses, the chimney and all buildings, machinery etc. as well as the Barklies’ old dwelling house and farmyard. Bought from Mr Crawford of York Street Flax Spinning Company.
On March 4, there was an AWFUL FIRE. It was first discovered about 9.30 pm and at that time flames were coming through the roof of the old Lapping Room. I tried to get up to the offices, then on the third floor, but the smoke made this impossible. In a few minutes we had numerous jets of water from both the Green engine and the hand engine, but it did not seem to have the slightest effect, and on looking back now I think the mistake was in playing the water on the awful furnace instead of getting ahead of it and saving at least some part of the buildings.
By one o'clock the next morning the entire Lapping Room, Lapping Room stocks, and Offices were burned out.
We were seriously hampered in our efforts to extinguish the fire by the want of ladders and the enormous crowd of people who gathered. Fortunately, we were able to save the flat-roof building that had been used partly as a fireproof booksafe.
By 8 am next morning we had over 50 men working on getting a temporary place in the Green (the old workshop) ready for making up goods. Carpenters were making new rolling and measuring machines and in two days time we commenced shipping again. We never missed replying to a mail, as over thirty clerks and typists were at work in the billiard rooms of my house Ardtara and my brother’s house Ampertaine.
The claim we made was as follows:
|Furniture & Machinery||£3,500||0s||0d|
|Work we did on Salvage, |
Dyeing & Re-finishing
|Damage to other buildings||£95||0s||0d|
|Allowance for men||£50||0s||0d|
|Less Salvage Stock that we |
bought back from the
|Net amount we claimed||£83,575||2s||2d|
We were paid by The Northern Assurance Company in May.
The origin of the fire was never proved, but it was suggested to me that it was caused by sample makers leaving a hot iron on the bench.
In June, my son Brian made an extensive trip to Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
On June 17 McLaughlin & Harvey of Belfast started re-building the Lapping Room, and we started the present new steam engine in the Green.
On June 27, a new head sluice was put in at Mullamore.
On August 28, a new boiler made by Penman, of 30 feet x 8’ 6”, for 165 lbs pressure was put into the Green.
Also in August, a big survey of the dams was made by S. Parker Beggs, a government engineer. He pointed out that our river – the Knockoneill or Clady – has a catchment area of 13-1/2 square miles above our works. During an autumn flood there would be a total discharge past our works of about 30,000,000 cubic feet in three days. He stated that the approximate area of a dam we proposed to make at the bank of the factory (about 7 acres, 10 feet deep) would be 3,000,000 cubic feet. The area of our other dams, taken from the Ordinance Sheet, is 20 acres; at 10 feet deep they would contain 9,000,000 cubic feet.
On October 6, this part of the country saw the greatest flood for 100 years. I was staying in Portrush and found it impossible to get here by any ordinary road, and finally had to come through Ballymoney and Rasharkin. On arriving in Upperlands at 4 pm, I found the scene was terrible. At the Green the water came up into most of the buildings and cut off Hilton’s house. The factory was badly flooded and damage done to the extent of about £2,000. The small dam burst and also the race below the Jubilee.
The Middle House, the Road Engines & Mill Engines were flooded 5 feet deep. Since then we cut the new run at the Mill. The bridge across the country road at the Mill Engines was nearly all washed away. The road to the Lower House was washed out for 60 ft and all dwelling houses there flooded. The Derry Central Railway was seriously damaged and no trains could run the following day.
Our head sluices were completely covered, and the river around my son Tom's house took a new course, and came in through Macknagh bog. Tom got to the house by wading in thigh boots they guided themselves, plus a baby in a basket, to safety. At Castledawson, our cousin A.L. Clark's house was surrounded.
On October 18, my son Willie left for Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
On November 23, the first linens were put into the new Lapping Room although it was not quite completed.
1930 - 1939
On January 15, I sailed in the SS Viceroy of India from London to Gibraltar and proceeded to Seville where I met up with my brother, the Reverend George Clark, whose wife had died the previous week. From Seville I went on to Madrid and met our agent, Mr McVeigh, but found business almost impossible owing to the very high tariff. I sailed home on the SS Rajaputan and arrived in London February 7.
On January 19, Craig's Dam burst in two places.
Also in January, my son Brian, made a trip through Switzerland, Italy and Austria.
On February 19, my nephew George Clark sailed for South Africa on a business tour.
Between February and June there was an alarming fall in prices of linen goods. 7x7 25/25 fell from 4-1/2d in February to 3-3/4d the following June.
In April, the first Dundee Mangle was bought for finishing tea towels. This mangle was bought from Thomas Adair & Sons, who had closed down. We purchased the Dundee Mangle [with a set of cans and damping machine] for £1,300, and six beetling engines for £120.
In May, my son Brian went to Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. He returned June 20 after a very successful trip.
On June 1, my brother-in-law, the Reverend George Sweetnam, died.
On June 30, Henning Jorck, our Denmark agent, arrived here.
On August 15, William McDonald, our New Zealand agent, was here.
Also in August, there was a great flood which nearly entered the weaving factory. We are now busy cleaning and widening the river from above my son Tom’s house [Upperlands House] to below the Jubilee.
On August 29, my son Tom sailed from Belfast in the SS Albertic for Quebec. As well as Canada he visited Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, etc. and sailed for home on Saturday, 4th October in the SS Cameronia.
In October, there was a further serious fall in the price of linen goods, which brought them nearly as low as pre-war levels. For example, 24-3/4 6x6 25/25 which back in July 1914 cost 2-5/8 d can now (in October) be bought at 3 1/8d.
Also in October, we got a grant of £148-10 towards cutting and changing the river near the Green. The whole scheme cost £297. Later on we got an additional grant of £35 and £107 towards the new cut at the Mill Engines. We also got a grant of £45 for cutting the river above my son Tom’s house and £20 for improving the stream at Road Engines, also £145 for work done below the Lower House. Trade at this time was terribly bad and the whole place was off every Saturday.
On January 4, the Dundee Mangle started working on household goods.
On February 12, John Kane died after a month’s illness, at the age of 79. He was with us for over sixty years, for a considerable time as our Secretary, and his death was a very great loss. He joined in 1868. Alex Kenning appointed Secretary.
On April 13, Anthony Tohill, the black dyer and the oldest hand about the place, died.
On May 7, David Henry died. He had been with us for over sixty years as bleacher and dyer.
On May 26, my son Brian left for Sweden and returned a month later.
On June 10, there was a cloud-burst at Upperlands. Such rain had never been previously been seen, even by the oldest inhabitant. The road, coming down Killymuck hill, was four feet deep in water and going over the fences. June was the wettest month for 100 years.
In July, new sluices were put in at the turbines at the back of the Green, and also at the head sluice.
In September, trade was awfully bad, with the Lapping Room closed every Saturday and Wednesday. The price of 24-3/4 6x6 25/30 was now down to 2-3/4d, which is only 1/8 d. above pre-war price. We made a very heavy loss on the year’s trading.
On October 30, my son Willie left for Demark.
Also in October, we put in a new turbine at the road engines. We took out the old Hercules Turbine and put in one by Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon, which effected a marvellous improvement, as the Road Engines used to take more water than any other place, but the new wheel required considerably less.
In December, I went to Switzerland for over two weeks.
In January my son Brian left for Switzerland and Holland.
In April we bought £700 worthy of machinery from the Suffolk company which was being broken up. This included 10 good beetling engines at £5 each, steam cans for £75, a hydraulic mangle for £310.
On May 4, Robert Saunderson, our famous finisher, died. He and his father were with us about forty-five years previously, then left and went to John McIlroy's of Donein, and later to The Suffolk Linen Co.
In June, some 50 feet were added to the length of the Dundee Mangle House.
On September 2, my son Tom sailed for Quebec on the SS Laurentic from Belfast. As well as Canada, he visited Saint Louis and New Orleans: the first time anyone from Upperlands has been to New Orleans.
In September, we began building the new Mercerising House in front of the Green.
On October 28, my son Brian left for Sweden.
As of December, the home trade was very bad, with 40 beetling engines idle. The new bleach house in front of the New Brown Room is nearly finished.
On January 27, Hewitt Smith of J Sproul Smith and Co, our Toronto agent, died. He and his father had represented us in Toronto for over thirty years. We appointed Arthur King in his place.
On January 31, a great railway strike started. No trains were running on the Derry Central line and only one each way on the main line. The Belfast dockers refused to handle our traffic. But we got our goods shipped via Larne and Stranraer owing to the kindness of the railway company.
On February 23, there was a terrible blizzard, with snow six feet deep on the roads. It was impossible to go to Garvagh or Coleraine. There was deep snow in the streets of Coleraine.
On March 4, practically every bank in the USA closed for a week owing to the great financial crisis.
On April 12, the first train left for Dublin since February 1.
On April 18, my son Willie left for Norway.
Also in April, we started raising the Green dam. We began arching over the Green race and raising the dam by four feet. We got two government grants, one of £75 and the other of £40 towards this. Meanwhile a caustic recovery plant by Mather and Platt was put in.
In May, we put in a second Dundee Mangle, bought from Urquhart Lindsay, Dundee, at a cost if £2,550, also a new 9ft Boiler for 200lbs pressure from Penman.
In July, we started to build the large addition of two storeys to the new Brown Room. This job would take several years, only finishing in 1940.
On August 22, our American agent Cecil Gilmore landed Queenstown, Cork where I went to meet him with my son Tom and his wife.
In September, my son Tom sailed in the SS Duchess of York for Canada.
On September 13, my nephew George Clark sailed for Quebec, his first trip.
On September 21, my son Willie Clark and his wife Zelie sailed from Tilbury for Gothenburg and Finland. This was his first visit to Finland.
On September 26, a wall between the Boiler House and the place where we were putting in the new boiler collapsed. This blocked all water pipes, steam pipes, and paralysed all work. By working all day and night we were able to start work again in a couple of days.
On November 4, my son Tom and his wife Eileen arrived home from their trip in Canada and the States.
On November 9, the dollar dropped to a rate of five per pound, the lowest since 1914.
The dollar dropped to 5 dollars to the pound. This is the lowest since 1914, when it rose to 7 dollars to the pound.
On November 26, my son Willie and his wife Zelie returned from Norway and Finland, my nephew George also returned from Canada.
On January 14, my son Brian left for Holland, Switzerland and Italy.
On February 15, I left with my son Harry and his wife Sybil for a cruise on the “Duchess of Atholl” to the Mediterranean. I did some business in Italy, Palermo and Palma. Palermo is a very good market for us. We returned on March 7.
On February 19, the beetler James Craig died. He had been a beetler at the road engines all his life, and was the son of old James Craig whom my father had brought here from County Antrim about 80 years ago.
On March 14, a new Penman boiler started.
Also in March, we began adding about 100 feet to the length of the Frame House.
In April, AS Steedman of Ely and Walker, Saint Louis, arrived here and placed a very large order for dress linens.
In early April, a new bleaching plant with a continuous process for lime boiling and bleaching started up. The old wash mills were taken out. They had washed the cloth in a loose bundle, in water obtained by closing a sluice in the underground waterway, which raised the level so it flowed through the wash-mill base. A continuous rope washing line was installed.
Also in April, there was great demand for dress linens from the USA.
On May 10, my son Brian Clark returned from Norway, Sweden and Finland after making a record trip and selling about 6,000 webs. He flew home from Denmark to London.
On June 2, our Leeds agent came to Upperlands and gave a great deal of trouble, as he cannot pay his debts and owes us a large sum.
On June 25, a new US agent came here for a week and gave us a great deal of information, but later on we found he was absolutely useless.
On July 27, a new mill turbine was put in. It took just 16 days to take out the old one and put in the new one, made by Gilbert, Gilkes & Gordon.
On September 30, my brother the Reverend George Wallis Newport Clark died in Portrush.
We bought three oil engines from Messrs Scott & Middleton, the Bann Contractors, for £250 each. These were put in at the Lower House, Mill and Road Engines. This Company had been widening and deepening the river Bann. Tom Middleton became a great friend of the family.
In October, we began to build a large addition to the Mercerising House and extended it down to the river. A later chimney at the Road Engines was demolished. There was great demand still for dress linens from the USA.
We sent R.A. Moody on a sales trip to the USA and Canada. He did well in Canada, but found business in the USA dead. My nephew George Clark made his second trip to Canada.
On October 25, we saw the second largest flood in living memory. The Jubilee Race burst and we put in a new concrete wall between the Race and the river, and had to lay a railway down from the Jubilee Works to bring forward the material.
On November 3, Dan Cassidy, who had been working in the Green all his life, died at the age of 77.
On November 23, my son Brian left for Gothenburgh. He cabled an order for 500 webs the day he landed.
In November, a condenser was put in for the old Howden engine. The household goods department was doing a great business, many large orders booked.
In December, there was a great advance in linen prices. This was chiefly due to large purchases by Germany of Russian flax.
In January, linen prices were still advancing. Fortunately we had a very large stock. Trade was very active. The Dundee Mangles were working every night, the Green and Lapping Rooms three nights a week.
In January, over £500 worth of beautiful white dress linens were left in the wet state for months by a worker who tried to cover up his blunder by burning many of the rotten webs and did away with other large quantities by putting acids on them in the dis-used cement kieve and burned them nearly all up. Our loss was made heavier by the fact that we had to re-buy goods to replace the rotten ones at very seriously advanced prices. The Green manager should have noticed all the big piles of rotting linens.
Prices were still soaring. 25’s tows were now 12/6d and piece goods were all up about 1d per yard.
On March 21, my son Willie left for Holland and Switzerland and had a very good trip.
On May 17, there was deep snow.
On May 25, we began to sink the foundations for a new green chimney. It was built by McLaughlin & Harvey for £1,100. It is 128’ high, 6 foot in diameter. We had to sink about 24 feet for a foundation.
Also in May, we started installing a new Green turbine, of 150 hp, made by Gilbert, Gilkes and Gordon.
In June, a new Belliss and Morcom steam engine, No 8941, 500 hp and 350 KW, was put in, at a cost of £1,600. A new wing to the Lapping Room, about 80 foot by 80, is being built, running out towards the Hall Field. The steelwork cost £950 erected.
At the Middle House, a new head race was cut to join these works at a lower level, so that we could use all the water coming down from the Green.
In July, there was great delay in sinking the foundation for the new chimney. We had to go 8 feet lower than the bottom of the Green Dam. We put in a concrete base reinforced with steel rails where we put in the foundation.
On July 31, my son Tom sailed in the SS Andania from Belfast for Quebec. He returned by SS Manhattan on October 14, and had a splendid trip in Canada.
In September, there was a great fall in linen prices.
On September 22, my sister Jane Frances Clark died.
On October 13, Thanny McCord died. For years he was one of our leading millwrights.
On November 12, we saw one of the largest floods in living memory but very little damage was done as we had cleaned the river. Many roads were blocked and a bus was marooned all night near Grillagh.
On January 20, the King died and my brother Alexander read out the proclamation in several parts of the county.
In January there was a great demand for cambrics. Our American agent Gilmore ordered 750 webs of 10x9-1/2.
In April, there was a great fall in the price of linens. The price of 25s fell from 11/6 to 9/6 and as we had a surplus of 90,000 webs, we lost a huge sum.
On April 23, a new school was opened in Upperlands.
An addition to the frame house, about 8o foot long, was built next to the quarry. (This would later become G Department, for the manufacture of fusible interlinings.)
July was the wettest month in living memory, with rainfall of seven inches.
In August, Charlie King and Cecil Gilmore were here. The latter bought 2,500 webs 10x9 and 10x9-1/2 of cambrics. Unfortunately, later on, he was unable to sell them off and we had to bring a lot back here. There was a keen demand for 8x7-1/2 30/35 dress linens, but the whole trade went to Belgium, where orders for 10,000 web lots were common.
On November 6, my son Brian went to Norway and Sweden.
An awful war was raging in Spain.
On January 24, Johnnie McGuckin, who had been for many years one of our best hands in the Green, died.
In February, we began building an addition of about 40 foot by 30 foot to the weaving factory. Continental European trade had by now reached very important figures, with monthly shipments amounting to over £16,000.
In March, there was the heaviest snow-storm in living memory, with many trains snowed up between Upperlands and Belfast, as well as in County Armagh.
From March 12 to March 14, practically all roads were impassable, with many motor cars snowed up.
In June, we bought a second-hand steam engine and dynamo from Gallaher, for £400, 250 hp. and placed it beside the other newly bought engine. Both were made by Belliss & Morcom. The new one had cost us £1,600.
On July 28, the new King was in Belfast and we went to see him at the City Hall.
In August, a new roof was put on the old Brown Room.
In September, we began large additions to the Mercerising House, about 100 foot long, in front of Mr Hilton’s dwelling house.
On September 22, Johnnie Andrews died. He had occupied an important position in the Green for more than 40 years.
Also in September, there was a great fall in linen prices. Unfortunately we had in the Brown Room stock of over 38,000 webs.
In October, my son Brian went to Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
On November 14, my brother Alexander Clark died. He had spent his entire life in the development and conduct of the business and during his long and successful career he saw it extended enormously in all parts of the world. His death will be a very serious loss to the company. For over forty years he never missed being at work at 7 am although for many years he had to drive down from Grillagh. He was one of the best-known and respected men in the linen trade. The funeral was on Tuesday, the 16th, and was one of the largest ever seen in the district. He had been at work in his office up to the day he took ill, a week before he died.
In February, there was a lappers’ strike. Thanks to the loyal behaviour of some of our men and the valuable work done in making up linens by the directors and office hands we were able to keep up shipments fairly well. David Henry of the Workers Union made a blunder in taking out the lappers without consultation with the directors. We used this opportunity to reorganize the whole Lapping Room and some of the strikers were not rehired.
In April, the American trade absolutely stopped. The linen trade report said the largest house in Belfast did not have a single order on their books for the USA.
On June 5 my son Willie Clark returned from a long trip to Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
In June, a new stenter frame was ordered from Mather and Platt, costing £3,000.
On September 9, my son Tom sailed on the “Duchess of Atholl” for Quebec and arrived a week later.
Also on September 9, there was a great war scare, thanks to German threats to Czechoslovakia. The situation was only saved by the Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, making a dramatic flying dash to see Hitler on Thursday, on the 15th. He returned the next day to London and met the French leaders. He flew back again to London, negotiations having broken down.
On September 28, war fears caused a great crisis everywhere, with underground railways in London taken over as bomb shelters.
Chamberlain and Mussolini both flew to meet Hitler and a peace pact was signed declaring that there never would be war between Germany and England. Thousands of men were digging trenches in the parks of London, Belfast and so on.
On September 30, Chamberlain returned from Germany. My son Tom was in Toronto at this time booking large orders. He contemplated returning immediately.
In September and October, our railway siding was re-laid with heavy rails and new sleepers which cost us £250.
On October 21, my son Brian left for Denmark.
October was the wettest month since 1870.
In November, temperatures in London reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest for the time of year for 500 years.
On November 17, the new frame made by Mather and Platt started.
On November 18, my son Brian returned from Norway after a very successful trip.
In December, the pipe for carrying high-pressed steam from the Green to the Lapping Room and Offices for heating was completed.
On December 16, my brother’s widow Frances passed away. She was deeply regretted by all, particularly the poor, to whom she was a most benevolent friend.
On February 13, my son Brian left for Switzerland on business.
In April, my son Willie went on a long trip to Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland and did very well, selling over 6,000 webs. He returned on May 27.
In May, we added six new cylinders to the drying cans in the addition to the Frame House, next to the quarry.
Trade was very good, except in the USA. We were shipping over 100 cases daily. I recall that in 1884 we considered 3 cases daily to be a record.
In July, there was a great demand from British clothing houses in connection with the extension of the army.
We began adding 80 feet to the Dundee Mangle House, for additional mangles.