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Living Linen Interview LL2_R02/66


Sound Recording on Reel: Ravarnette Weaving, Lurgan Weaving Company, Windsor Factory, Bessbrook. Library Transcript: Transcript. Summary: Like many others in Lurgan, the Hanna's were a textile family. Times were hard. There were at least 10 in the family when Armstrong turned 10 and he made money caddying on the Lurgan golf course. He gave his mother 3d and kept 3d for himself. Mr Hanna's first job in the textile industry was at the Ravarnette Weaving Co where the family moved in the 1920s. Mr Hanna Sr was a tenter at the factory and got Armstrong a start when he was 14. Ravernette wove plain cloth on ordinary shuttle looms. Many of the workers lived at the village of Ravernet, which was accessed by a small road cut straight through the fields from the Lisburn road. Mr Hanna has 3 main memories of Ravernette. The noise, the fact that there was no running water (a handcart was filled at the river every morning and brought around for the workers to dip their cups in) and the girls. He suffered at the hands of the women workers before picking up one woman who had slapped his behind and carrying her down .he weaving shed with her bloomers showing! After a year the family left Ravernette, and returned to Lurgan. Mr Hanna Sr worked in the Lake Factory (Bessbrook RS&O). Armstrong joined him a year later from the Lurgan Weaving Co (Blackstaff) or Limited as it was locally known. There were 3 factories situated very close to one another: The Lake, The Limited and Johnston Allen. There were 5 tenters at the Limited, each with a `share' of 68 looms - making a total of 340 - about twice the size of Ravernette. The Limited wove very fine cambric handkerchief cloth. Mr Hanna remembers hand throwing shuttles to create the borders. Each shuttle was put in for only 6 or 7 shots and then replaced with another one. Quality standards were high. Workers who failed to make the grade were dismissed, but Mr Hanna wouldn't know anything about that! In about 1925 Mr Hanna went to the Lake and quickly became one of their key weavers and learned about loom mechanics. He wove 4 looms. Lurgan differed from most other textile centres, in that the weavers were almost all male. The handkerchief trade created many jobs for women in whitework: sewing, hand stitching, folding and smoothing (ironing) which were often done in the home. There was no damask woven in Lurgan. The Lake had previously been owned by Sir William Allen and was so called because it lay beside the lake at Lurgan castle. The actual address was Windsor Avenue and the factory was sometimes referred to as the Windsor. The Lake wove a heavier type of cloth than the Limited, but quality standards were no less exacting. During WWII, the Lake wove aeroplane linen. Mr Hanna remained at the Lake until it closed. The then manager Fred Brown, called him up to the office in his capacity as shopsteward to announce that the firm was to close. During protracted wage negotiations, Mr Hanna said that they would accept the employer's offer if they conceded holidays with pay. The employers agreed and Mr Hanna claims to have secured paid holidays for the textile trade! Mr Brown offered him a job at Bessbrook weaving 4 sheeting looms. Mr Hanna travelled to Bessbrook everyday in the company of a tenter. He became a key employee and earned very good money. He also helped the tenters, when they were stuck on the old Lake looms. These looms were warp stops, very different to those in the Limited where Mr Hanna stood with one hand on the handle ready to put the loom off. Mr Hanna left the industry at the age of 56 and finished his working life as a watch and clock repairer.