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Living Linen Interview LL2_R01/70 1 of 2

Description:

Sound Recording on Reel: York Street (Thread), Jennymount, Island, Campbells, Hilden. Library Transcript: Transcript. Summary: George Kennedy joined York St Threads in 1947. The thread works had been moved to Union St, Lurgan - the site of the hemstitching works - following the bombing of the York Rd complex in WWII. A bus transported workers from Belfast every day. Norman Cooper was the manager. Although most of the yarn was bought from York St; Andrews, the Island and Hilden yarns were also used. Lurgan produced linen and cotton thread as well as braids. Most of the thread was destined for the Northampton shoe trade. Working conditions and facilities were very good. Mr Kennedy witnessed a number of accidents in the works, but these were caused by employee inattention and disregard for safe working practices. The thread unit was run independently and remained in Lurgan after the Belfast mill was reconstructed. The yarn and thread was bleached, dyed and finished at Muckamore. Mr Kennedy left Union St and joined Jennymount as a trainee preparing master. The MD, Ronald Cunningham, respected the authority of departmental managers and always asked their permission before inspecting the rooms. Mr Kennedy was in charge of all the processes up to and including roving. Jennymount was a well-run and carefully laid out mill. The mill was kept very clean and had an efficient dust extraction system. Labour relations were very good. The mill had a routine servicing schedule for all machinery which kept it in perfect working order. The facilities were equally impressive: the canteen was 1st class, they employed a registered nurse, provided a creche and Mr Cunningham was particularly proud of the toilets. Jennymount also owned a number of workers houses in the immediate vicinity. Mr Kennedy was responsible for hiring and firing workers within his section. The personnel department sent for prospective employees and the departmental heads interviewed them. Experience was always useful; but personal appearance, demeanour and family association were also taken into consideration. Business was booming. The mill ran an evening shift and a number of departments ran a night shift. Mr Kennedy left Jennymount in 1958 and returned to Union St Lurgan. He remained in Lurgan until the business was sold to Campbell's of Mossley and the works closed in 1961. Campbell's also owned the Island Spinning Co and merged the York St and Island thread businesses in Lisburn. The buildings were old and in a poor state of repair. The facilities were rather primitive and the housing stock had been sold off. In 1964 Mr Kennedy became manager of the Island. There was a small spinning unit on site, but most of the thread was produced from Mossley yarns. Campbell's continued to use their own, as well as the York St and Island trade names. The Island site was a distinct profit centre. Labelling was the only real difference between the products! Most of the yarn bleaching was carried out at Springvale. Labour relations were good: a lot of the workers had been with the firm for a number of years and others had transferred from Lurgan. The total workforce was about 60. Island threads were exported worldwide. In 1972 Mr Kennedy moved to Campbell's as production manager. When Hanson bought the group in 1980 they closed the Island and concentrated thread production at Hilden. This involved the closure of the Island. Hanson invested heavily. Island and York St threads were still manufactured at Hilden. Mr Kennedy later moved to Hilden to head their braiding operation and retired in 1994.