Adrienne Carson reflects on why Hilden
is a school that evokes such strong loyalty
A photograph taken in
1936 when the Prince of Wales visited
Hilden Mill. Picture courtesy of Lisburn
WITH the closure of Barbour Threads Mill, one
of the last links to the old village of Hilden will be gone.
In its time thousands of people from far and
wide worked there and the life of the village revolved around
the sound of the mill horn. There was the morning horn for the
start of the day, then the lunch horn and the six o'clock horn
and out poured the masses for the end of another day.
The village of Hilden was a thriving
community where everyone knew each other and we children roamed
far and wide and every day seemed sunny.
We wandered in the fields and caught
sticklebacks in the rivers around our home and played on the
rocks off the 'overfalls'. Sometimes in winter these rocks were
almost covered when the river was in flood and we would dare
each other to wade out and climb on the nearest one - if our
parents had only known.
As children our lives revolved around our
school - Hilden Public Elementary as it was known in days gone
by. Children of any religion or none came to Hilden School, so
it was integrated long before the word was known as it is today.
We had a great time at school, and great
teachers. Among them were Mr Rowan, Miss Scannell, Mr Martin and
many more, and over them all was headmaster Mr Alex Woodena.
They were all great teachers - strict but fair, though they did
have their moments when the cane carne out or a duster flew past
one's head for not paying attention.
Street Hilden where Adrienne Carson grew
up in the 1940'S. Courtesy of Lisburn
Adrienne Carson (nee Kennedy) playing in
Bridge Street, Hilden in 1942.
Some days, when the weather was fine, we were
taken for nature walks along the tow path of the River Lagan or
to our plots of gardens at the back of Hilden Park where we grew
plants and vegetables and when no one was looking hid a few
apples from the apple trees in our pockets.
Hilden Park was another part of our
childhood. As soon as school was out we all headed for the park.
There were swings and seesaws and a lot of other amusements but
what was really popular was the large rocking horse, grey and
black, dappled with a mane of white hair, it was every child's
dream at a time when money and toys were scarce.
We had summer concerts in which almost every
child took part. We had a teacher who came every day to
supervise and show us how to perform and in the winter we would
go across to the Elise Milne Barbour Hall for our winter
concert. These were great fun and attended by our parents and
members of the Barbour family who were a constant in our lives.
The Mill, the school and the park were all part off the Barbour
Empire and all had an influence in our lives.
Each year Mrs Smith, a member of the Barbour
family, arranged for us children to go to her home at the foot
of the Mourne Mountains where a feast of goodies was set out on
tables in the large gardens. We were encouraged to run wild for
a few hours before setting off for home, tired but happy.
Then there was the big house owned by the
Gordon family. Mr Gordon was a Director of Hilden Mill. The big
house played a part in the lives of nearly all the people of
The Gordons had a large barn which we were
allowed to use for school concerts, and when the Gordon
grandchildren stayed for holidays sometimes the village children
were invited to the house to play. They were lovely people.
Today the house and barn is part of the
Glenmore Estate is built on the site of
cornfields where we played as children and the Hickey family
home is now a children's home while a derelict car park is all
that remains of the homes remembered from childhood.
Such an end for what was once a thriving
Maybe someday someone will write a history
about the old village of Hilden before it is lost in the mists
Hopefully this will bring some pleasant
memories to former residents of old Hilden where we all had a