by Billy Simpson

Millbank Nr MagheragallNow known as Brookmount Road, to pacify some of the residents. There is no Brookmount on the O.D. maps and the name was given to the railway station to honour a local farmer.

In its old title it was the industrial centre of Magheragall with the corn milling activities since 1632 and brick Making, flax scutching and saw mills in the 1800's. The railway station 1866. Hand-loom weaving in the cottages, the Orange Hall and Bandroom. The Blacksmith shop and carpenter's shop and the Mullaghcarton Road pub, shop and post office.

Before the railway was built the road went straight to join the Ballinderry Road at the Taylor's corner and the way into the mill was by a lane at the upper side of the present Orange Hall. The change was made during the construction of the railway and Milibank House was built about the same time by James Crossan. "The church is still getting small interest from his bequest".

James Simpson bought the mill and farm 1870 from Crossan who had purchased from Mr. Larmour earlier.

When James Simpson purchased the mill, it was in bad repair. He renovated and modernised it from a thatched 2 storey to 3 storey with 3 pairs of milling stones and 1 pair of spelling stones and cleaning machinery. Two water wheels were also renovated, a steam engine was installed, the flax mill also was repaired. Then the brick yard started and saw mill.

Clay was dug on the farm then transported from the pits by horse-drawn wagon on narrow gauge lines to the works a large number of men and women 20-30, worked as all activities were hand done. Coal was brought from Belfast to Brookmount station by wagon and then by horse-cart to the works. Bricks were carted to the railway for delivery to various parts of Ireland.'

The corn mill was operated on the barter system i.e., some meal was taken from each end made as payment, no coinage was used in the transaction. Six or seven men worked the drying kilns and mill. The men were all locals and the names still persist in the locality. However, brick making ended 1912, the flax mill was burnt earlier and machinery sold. The corn mill was used until after the war in 1950's when farmers got tractors and were able to grind their own grain. In the landlord's day each farmer had to take his grain to a specified mill and have it ground into meal, wheatmeal, oatmeal and sowans for human consumption also oats, beans and wheat were ground for animal feed. After 1418 war, Jack Simpson traded as merchant selling wheatmeal, oatmeal and yellow meal to shopkeepers in Lisburn, Dromore, Dromara, Lurgan, Hillsborough in 3½-71bs and 10 St. sacks all stencilled.
Top of page


(Stencilling was the writer's job, after school for many years).

Brookmount railway station was a busy place, all travel in the early days was by rail, horse or foot and goods from Belfast, Dublin or across the channel arrived here. James Martin was the first stationmaster that I knew, he was followed by Alex Neill, Johnny Marsden, Fred Marsden, Jimmy Lavery and others during and after the war. In Martin's time there was 3 or 4 porters to assist him cleaning, brushing and generally helping the passengers. in their spare time they cultivated all the spare ground around up to the bridge, the area where the Orange Hall and Bungalow is now, also down the line on the edge of Ballinderry Road and the house garden. Vegetables and flowers mostly.

As already referred to, bricks were loaded in wagons also meal from the mill and potatoes, grain, grass seed and livestock. AU these were loaded from the beech on the Brookmount Road siding by the farmers mostly for Belfast, occasionally oat-shells milled were destined to Liverpool. The red wall is still there where the cattle pens were. Each cattle wagon was individually loaded from the pens, other wagons at a different level.

Lewis, Graham, Fleming and Springfield were the cattle grazers in those days. In latter times Robert Graham brought a 'special' of livestock to the main platform about 20 wagon 10 animals per each (after Martin and Neill) they knew the foot passengers would not have tolerated the platform being soiled. We, the young ones, enjoyed the stampede and tried to open the wagon doors as quick as possible to fill the road with the herd and many times flatten the fencing at the wee gate.

Also to the station came coal. Midden and Slaughter house manure for fanners. Coal mostly for Wm_ Belshaw's lime works at Knocknadona also for the brick works and the kilns. Sometimes several farmers combined in a wagon load 10 tons. When wagons arrived on the siding the GRN Company wanted them emptied immediately they would have charged waiting time, so there was a rush to empty especially if carts could be got to shovel the coal or manure into. Saved lifting it off the ground again, which did happen sometimes. Belshaw's had to unload their coal onto the ground at the bridge end, usually 5-10 ton at a time.

The church sexton at that time, Ebenezzar Rodgers, did that work. The manure was not shovelled out if at all possible. The smell and the offals were not good company for the mill house. Often some wagons were covered with a layer of dry stuff over semi-liquid, it ill betided any new comer if he jumped onto the top and disappeared to the. waist. Lime also was put on wagons, Wm. Belshaw had a steam lorry which brought lime down and took coal back again to the works.

On the platform side only parcels and milk were received. The 8:10 was the milk train, Springfield, McMurtry, Simpson and Hobson rushed for to catch the milk train. There was often spills on the way. Some of the passenger were of the "Yes Sir, No Sir" level and the porters had to carry the case and kids open the doors and closed them again. There was no station or halts from Lisburn or to Ballinderry then.

Many walked a long distance to the station. From the White Lane, Jenny Lane, Brookhill, Horsepark, Drumcill, Kilcorig, Knocknadona, Moneybroom and Mullaghcarton. That was where school children got their only daily constitutional if they went to town schools.

During the 1939-45 war, owing to petrol rationing, the Railway had a revival and goods and passengers started to travel again also the air raids in Belfast 1941 made a big number live in the country again. Barn, stables, byres and even privies were occupied by evacuees but when war ended they gradually drifted back to the city. There was a period after the air raids that timber was stored along the siding from the bridge to Cooleen (B.D's) for safety, so a watchman had to be on duty 24 hours per day. John Willie Balmer had the job for a long time and as there was a lot of entertainment at that time in the country, we made life hard for him after dark. No lights were allowed to show at all then, so we could not be recognised.

A certain evacuee known as the "professor" lived at Brookhill then. He went to Lisburn for his entertainment, usually was intoxicated on his return journey so he counted the stops Brookmount one and Brookhill two. One night the train stopped at Knockmore junction where there was no platform, that didn't usually happen so when he arrived at Brookmount he counted two and stepped out the wrong side, he fell to the lines and when the train moved on was using all the King's language that he knew.

When the stock darn froze and the skating was in full swing, GNR sent a special tram to Brookmount every evening, where a grand evenings entertainment awaited. No lights, no music, but that's another tale and many.

In the early 20's buses came on the Ballinderry Road and railway passengers have fallen steadily since until the line was abandon in 1962-3, a re-think put us on the map again, unfortunately Brookmount was left out and the station buildings demolished.

There is a movement at present to re-open Brookmount Station, hope it will be successful.

Further along the Quarters was two rows of houses each side of the road, 4 on the left and 3 on the right, at a time hand-loom weaving was the occupation for the Winter time. Jimmy McDonald was one that I knew. He wove his cloth and carried it to Lurgan to the merchant and collected thread there to weave into cloth and same procedure. He was not practising in my time. They often said he was happy if a farmer allowed him to put his webb on their cart and he walked behind. Didn't always happen so lucky.

After the weaving stopped various people lived there. A Mrs Bell, Fred Davis and Billy Hunter who had a shop selling cigs, sweets paraffin oil, matches, candles and some groceries. He had a small lorry to do haulage which was parked on the roadside. Halloween night came and the lorry disappeared.

Some of us knew where it was and for a week we were shaking in our shoes when the police came around, but Albert Leckey visited his barn on Dillart's Hill and it was there. I don't know how many pushed it from the Quarters to top of Dillart's, put it in and closed the door. It was quite safe and warm.

Where Fred Davis lived was the Orange Hall (one room) and after James Martin bought the other side of the road he used two houses as his dwelling and the top "house" was converted into the Orange Hall, Bandroom, Dancehall, Dartroom. Many and many nights were enjoyed there in our Youth, until the Lodge went to the specials hut at Magheragall School because of dispute with owner James Martin, late Stationmaster as mentioned earlier.
Top of page

The Blacksmith Shop.

A page from the accountsJoe Verner Bell was the smith at the beginning of the century His ancestors were were before him and occupied nearly all the farms around the corners. Joe Verner died 1912. He had 4 daughters and 1 son James who was blacksmith for years and after his death in 1961 his brother-in-law James Heasley was the last to open the doors as country smith. During its hey-days it was a hive of activity. Many smiths worked there. Joe Mayes, who was drowned down the Dagger, Jack Maginess, James Heasley, Bertie and Bill Higgins and others, made farm carts, wheel-barrows, shod horse and ponies, made harrows and ploughs, gates, railings and may other implements for the surrounding farms and house-holders.

They also put the iron rim on cart wheels having already made the spokes, hub, fellow from scratch so to speak. A large circular steel plate with a large hole in the middle in which the hub went, the wheel was laid horizontal on the plate, the rim was made a very tight fit. This plate was outside the "street" beside the water tank. The rim was made red hot in the big furnace; which is still there, a section at a time turned round until it was all hot, covered by oat dust from the corn mill, then 3 men took it out to the wheel and placed it on the timber, hampered it on and immediately cooled it by pouring water on it which contracted it, made it grip tight and kept the timber from burning.

This was specialist's work, hard and quick, with each man knowing exactly what he was doing, resulting in a lasting job.

A man from a large works in Belfast once told James Bell that his firm worked to the thou. of an inch. James replied "No use here, we have to be exact".

In those days welding was done with hot iron and flux, hand boring was hard work and shoes made by sledge and hammer on the anvil, the shop lighting was oil and wick lamps then the tilley arrived.

Another thing was blowing the bellows, which usually was for the "visitor" if he was tall enough to reach the handle. Many-many times suffered. If you were too enthusiastic you pumped the bellows too hard and burn the iron in the fire. James had some fine things to call you when that happened.

The smithy was where news was spread - good and bad; any farm for sale was advertised by hand bills put up in the smithy or the mill. (I have a photo of one on the mill door) and of course on the trees (no telephone or electric poles) hence the expression, "The farm on the trees".

On the other side of the corner 'Henry's now', Johnny Nelson and Mrs. Nelson started a shop similar to Billy Hunter's of earlier years. Johnny had a Chevrolet also to haul sand and meal to farmers. This was a thriving business but disaster struck, John died at an early age leaving Mrs. Nelson to carry on with the shop and farm for many years. After she quit, the shop came across the road again to Miss Liza-Jane Bell who eventually had the P.O. until it closed. Only the letter box remains. Another of the rural amenities gone, we got sweets, groceries, Gigs, stamps P.O. letters and most importantly money, (child benefit and pensions) there.

Early times the P.O. was in Miss Gill's house at the end of Drumcill Road. There were 3 Miss Gill's and 1 brother, none married and that family branch is gone. The letters were brought by bicycle from Lisburn, sorted in Gill's P.O. then two other Postmen delivered their share on foot mostly, except the man from Lisburn who delivered on his way back to Lisburn. I recall Bob Fletcher who had a physical deformity to his hands but was still very agile. He organised charabanc trips to Bangor and Other places. "Will you come to my trip" was his catch phrase. My mother often asked him if his boots were getting worn.

A page from the accountsAt an earlier date the post office and shop was at Church Hill, Mullaghcarton Road corner. There was still a big window and door into the shop when I was going to school with a dividing wall between it and the dwelling door. Large stones dotted the green at road edge where many-a-one was hair clipped and shaved on Saturday nights. Sometimes when a distraction occurred half of a head was left unfinished_

Valentine Gill changed the front when he owned the house, removed the yews and built the wall around the corner.

Eleanor Lamour, one time lady sexton lived across the road in one of the small houses, she kept her hens roasting on the 'Jamb Wall', she was reputed to run like the wind with a lighted candle stuck in the neck of a bottle with the bottom removed. These old houses have been demolished now. Further down at the bridge is the Pound House which was said to have been a pub once. Garrett's were owners about 1820-30.

Issau Hullis had the farm until H. Jordan bought it.

On the Knocknarea Road the first house, Poplar Vale was called Christian Hall before a Mr. Campbell was there. Robt. McMurtry came here 1928, about. He let the front part of the house which was single storey to Mr. & Mrs. Mattchet. Mrs. Mattchet held the girl guides there for many years. A great attraction on Monday night at the cross-roads for some, or many.
Top of page

Further along Knocknarea, 5 cottages occupied by D. Geddis, John McQuillan, Miss McKnight, John Murphy and Albert Tollerton mentioned earlier at Brookmount Station. D. Geddis bought a small lorry to do haulage work, unfortunately he never learned to drive safely. One time Jenny's Lane wasn't wide enough he finished over the hedge against the hall.

The sand pits worked by Mr. Watson when the railway was made, it cut right through them and the Whinny was on the one side. Mr. Bradberry owned it and dug sand for his brick works on the Dagger Road, Lisburn Hide Company now.

The Whinny Hill was flattened and used in the M.1 at Moira.

The other side of the railway became the property of Edward Hinds, he was killed by a Military Lorry on the Dagger Road during the war. Farmers and builders carted sand and stones for the pits for years. Hinds delivered sand by lorry from the middle 20's. Another pit was owned by James Thompson.

All work was hand done, shovelled into and out of carts etc., sand was riddled and grated, grit, pebbles, different sands and cobbles which were in demand for horse stables. H. Jordan was the owner for a time, present owner is Ronnie Gray.

A lot of men were employed in the pits.

The Red Row had six houses with a common street and a wall at road edge. Mrs McKee lived in one, she had the same surname before she was married, hence the ability to cure whooping cough with a blackcurrant jam sandwich. Many I got and I did get cured.

The rest of the tenants worked at Lissue. On the other side of the lane was the old school even before Magheragall School. After the 1st W. War a boxing club was held in it, conducted and trained by Joe Watson an ex-serviceman. Howard Turkington was a pupil.

Lissue farm was owned by Mr. Richardson in 1840. Whey they left. Tynne Campbell and Lindsay were owners until 1954 when the Simpson's bought it.

Capt. Lindsay came there 1929, he repaired the house and removed a large section of it. We still have one half of a window, 5' x 4' which my father bought at the auction of surplus (he bought eight).

Capt. Lindsay brought the electric from Lisburn (privately) over the Ballinderry Road where the test centre is now, over the hill where Bridgeport and over Knockmore Lane to Phil Lewis's farm to the yard gates.

A grid of crossed cables was suspended under the power lines as it crossed the Ballinderry Road. In those days the poles and wires had to be well away from the road.

The Lindsay family kept a lot of hunting horses and a lot of cars, giving employment to me. There was also an attraction to the house in the evenings because of the girls, parlour maids, cooks, laundry workers and domestics were numerous. Chauffeurs, ploughmen, cowmen, grounds men, gardeners etc., also horse trainers, jockeys and mucker outs, all men in that era.

Springfield was the other place that had electric at that time it was made by a stationary engine and dynamo. Fred Kerridge was the operator, he was also lorry man, handyman, electrician and butler, no demarcation a man worth having.

During the 39-45 war, Lissue was put at the disposal of the Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, there was evacuees for a time and later it was used for convalescence of patients. When Capt. Lindsay died the family gave the house to the Hospital Authority absolute. Billy Mayes was the head gardener, Billy McDonald his son-in-law was the last. Shortly after the land was old (sold).

The dispensary was in Brookhill, Patton & Alexander, Bell Ireland, Cupples, Ireland and Vaughan.

Greerstown was a place in its on right. Greers, Ushers, Vaughans, Lewis, Aggie Abbott, John McHarg, Geo. Martin, unfortunately only Lewis, Martin, Vaughan are the only ones left.

Lewis built the Moneybroom House around 1870 and David Lewis and family are the present occupiers. His Grandfather Robert, mentioned earlier, was an extensive cattle dealer and grazer in the area. His Grandsons still are.

The Greer family were staunch loyalists, Richard, Maggie and Darah, an other brother lived there but none of them married. There was no issue. Every year when the flag was put on the church tower someone always told her it was upside-down. She soon had the bike out and was down to the church steps to check. She also claimed the family came to Greerstown in Plantation times and were still in the same house. 14 acres was the size of their farm.

John McHarg was trained as a Presbyterian Minister but unfortunately never preached, he was unmarried. When the parish held the wee soiree each year he showed slides with his magic lantern of flowers and scenes around the locality taken with his own camera. He also told what they were, botanical names as well. Usually some of the big boys got a seat beside the lantern, the light of which was from carbide and water mixed in an air-tight container connected with rubber tube.

The Vaughan history is maybe as long as the Greer's, unfortunately the last one of the name in this parish died a short time ago.

The connection is still healthy in name of Hendron.

Down the other lane Wm. Belshaw built a row of houses called Streamville Terrace in the early 30's which are individually owned now.

He also built Warren Park in Lisburn. A Man named Mairs was the builder. He had a yard at the top of the avenue where they made the concrete blocks by hand, a press was used and the aggregate was filled into the press and dumped down tight with the lid, a foot lever pushed the block and pallet out then Were laid on the ground to dry. When enough blocks were made, the foundations were cut and concreted for a block of 4 houses, which were then erected and finished.

That was in the middle 30's there was very few houses in the second sandy at that time.
Top of page

The aforementioned mentioned James Simpson went to New Zealand for health reasons.

After his wife retired from managing the business their son William John Simpson bought the business with his son.

William John Simpson worked the business and the farm.

Then Billy, the writer of this history bought the farm from his father who moved to the County Down.


I suppose You've all heard of Magheragall, convenient to Brookhill
of Mr. Simpson's Brickworks - likewise his big cornmill
and when you come to Brookmount I'd like you all to know
that when you are at Brookmount you haven't got far to go.

William Hawthorne drives the engine, but if ere the millers gone
if he's not driving the engine, he's constant grinding corn.
Charlie yokes the shifty, in morning sharp at six
saying I'm the boy bring up the clay if you're for making bricks.

Williamson and McComb are head men in the pit
and since the mill went on piece-work they haven't had long to sit.
Hawthorne, Brown and Lavery at the tables every day
they're the boys can make good bricks whenever they get good clay.

McQuillan and Dixon they lay them on the ground
and they're the lads that don't take long to lay a buggy down.
But Harry Lappin says McQuillan's not the whack
because the bricks McQuillan puts out of his hands wouldn't pass the

And when these bricks are dry and ready for the kiln
well call on Tommy Tolerton who lives on Dillart's Hill.
He's the man can burn good bricks whenever he gets good slack
turn them out as hard as flintstones - turns them out without a crack.

So if you're going to build a wall, take my advice in time
draw Mr. Simpson's right good bricks and Billy Belshaw's lime.

This pamphlet has been published with the kind permission of
Mrs Maise Simpson of Brookmount.

Top of page