Big thank you from


Years of history and tradition crumble into dust.

The 96-year-old chimney at the old Stewart's Mill in Lisburn whose hours are literally numbered! E0432By Monday of next week there should be little left of the old Stewart's Mill in the Antrim Street area of Lisburn which took years to build and has been demolished in a matter of days.

The site has been acquired by Crazy Prices for development as a supermarket.

The mill has been empty for some time now following the transfer of workers to the parent company, Barbour Campbell Threads of Hilden. The demolition work is being carried out by a local man, Mr. Woods Rosbotham and the material is carried away in a fleet of lorries.

Mr. Robert Stewart senior died in 1858 ' but the business was actively continued by his sons until 1882 when Robert died leaving his brother, James Andrew, as the sole proprietor of the concern.

The last of the old Stewart's Mill building is demolished by the huge crane. E0433Many extensions were carried out in the lifetime of Robert Stewart junior '' and the continued growth of the trade of the . firm rendered it necessary a few years after his death for the surviving partner to erect an entire new spinning mill, which was completed in 1889.

With furnishings the total cost of the new mill was in the region of £30,000 and the workforce rose from 800 to 1,000.

The new factory was erected on the site of some old dye-houses which had been demolished and was described as 'both handsome in appearance and complete in appointment.' It was 153 feet long by about 48 feet wide and consisted of 17 bays. A lofty, imposing structure, it had five floors and was fireproof throughout.

A large crane fitted with a metal ball weighing over two tons has been used in the demolition operation and the last thing to be demolished will be the chimney, which is some 172 feet high.

  For the chimney demolition an even bigger crane is being brought in and it is hoped to knock down this Lisburn landmark bit by bit.

Stewarts Mill building which has now disappered from the Lisburn sky line

WORLD FAMOUS Stewart's Mill has been a familiar part of the local scene for a century and a half and it played no small part in the linen industry and made the town of Lisburn world famous.

It was the first in Ireland to be lighted throughout by electricity.

The year 1835 saw the start of Robert Stewart and Sons Ltd. as flax spinners, linen and shoe thread manufacturers

It was then that the late Robert Stewart, senior, of Lisburn began twisting thread there by hand and in the course of a few years afterwards he had about 3,000 spindles at work spinning the yarn used in the manufacture of the thread. Ten years later Mr. Stewart took into partnership his sons, Robert and James Andrew, from which date (1845) the firm traded under the style of Robert Stewart and Sons.


The firm in latter years was to become part of the famous Hilden firm of William Barbour and Sons, later to change the name to Barbour Threads.

People travelling by train had a good view of the large Antrim Street mill and it was an impressive sight at night all lit up.

Now the scene has changed and the vacant site is a memorial to the many workers - men, women, boys and girls - who kept the wheels of industry turning down the years.

Many local folk no doubt have memories of times spent in the busy premises when they were a hive of activity. Pictures of groups of workers in the mill can be seen in various places.

Ulster Star
January 25th 1985