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Living Linen Interview LL2_R02/13


Sound Recording on Reel: Francis Dinsmore. Library Transcript: Transcript. Summary: Templemoyle was established in 1791 by Alexander Brown and was constructed from the stone of Temnplemoyle Abbey - the ruins of which remain in the grounds. Francis Dinsmore (Frank’s great-grandfather) bought the firm in 1868. Frank’s father, James Francis, succeeded in the early 1920s and turned around the fortunes of the firm. The firm was originally vertically; spinning, weaving and dyeing linen. Dinsmore’s wove aero linens during WWI. They also produced woollen army blankets and continued to weave up until the 1920s. Part of the works is still known as the weaving shed, From then onwards Templemoyle has been a largely commission based bleaching, dyeing and finishing works. After the war, cotton increased in popularity and Dinsmore’s converted from linen to cotton processing. They specialised in men’s wear - finishing cloth for Montague Burtons amomgst others. During WWII, Dinsmore’s worked on RAF drills, khaki, and uniform and cap linings. Templemoyle received a letter during the war which read, ‘Dye everything in stock black, Return a.s.a.p.’ Frank Dinsmore joined the family business in 1947. In 1949, his father suffered a terrible accident when a drying can exploded as he was walking past. Frank ran the firm for a number of years on his own, until his eldest son Laird, and later Stephen, joined him. In the 1950s, dyeing and colour matching was all done by hand. Most of Dinsmore’s rivals, and their customers, were based in GB. The Bleacher’s Association allowed Dinsmore’s to undercut agreed prices by 5 or 10%) to cover the additional time delay and freightage charges. This was intended to offset the disadvantages of being based in NI. Dinsmore’s are specialist dyers. Although they have recently begun to do a little commission bleaching, bleaching is largely regarded as a preparatory stage in the dyeing process. The firm currently imports a lot of bleached cotton from India. They also process a lot of circular knitted fabric. Clarks of Upperlands are a major customer. Dinsmore’s stopped beeiling about 15 years ago when the demand for Hollands and Buckrams fell away. Water is drawn from bore-holes and the Kellswater. The Kellswater was used by a number of different textile processors, and from time to time coloured water would run down to the lower works. The problem was soon sorted out by a quick phone call to the offending firm who opened their sluice gates to flush the material away. Dinsmores also installed a water turbine that provided light and power. There was also a disused water wheel on the site. The local narrow-gauge railway closed in the mid-1920s and all future transport was carried out by road. In the last 10 years, Dinsmores have installed a M&S accredited laboratory. It is no coincidence that this unit also coincided with the closure of LIRA. The firm today employs 74 people. In recent years, the firm bought over one of their troubled customers - an English knitting firm, and a fabric coating firm that specialises in flame-proofing cloth for the aircraft industry. Although Kells is an historic settlement, Dinsmore’s is very much part of its history and a large proportion of the workforce is still drawn from the immediate area. The links with the village has led to excellent labour relations and a high degree of employee loyalty. Mr Dinsmore retired 5 years ago and has deliberately taken a back seat, leaving the firm to his sons, Dinsmore’s remains a blend of the modern and traditional with a strong sense of purpose and direction for the future.