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Living Linen Interview LL2_R02/30 2 of 2


Sound Recording on Reel: Edenderry Mill; Thomas Sintons. Library Transcript: Transcript. Summary: Mr Noble joined Edenderry mill in 1969. He learned a great deal from the mill manager, and accompanied Mr Brown on a number of flax buying trips to Belgium. In later years the mill began to buy in part-processed flax, but continued to hackle considerable amounts of flax on-site Edenderry employed 500 people. The mill dates back to the 1850s and had been an independent company. Edenderry was owned equally by Johnston Allen, Spence Bryson and Bairds. The Brookfield site was used largely as a flax and yarn store. Edenderry spun a wide range of yarns. They had a wet and a dry spinning dept, and also spun viscose-linen blends. The mill supplied its owners with yarn for handkerchief cambrics and sheers, and for apparel cloth. They also supplied external customers including Ewarts, Wm Clarks and Rosebank. Edenderry also sold to Italian apparel weavers When Mr Noble joined the mill, it was re-equipping with ring frames. Edenderry was a modern spinning mill with excellent working conditions. The mill drew water from the Mains and the machinery was all powered by electric motors. Edenderry owned a number of houses in the area. Mr Noble became assistant mill manager and took over all flax buying responsibilities. The mill speculated in flax purchases. Although they tried to avoid spinning for stock, the seasonal nature of the business made it difficult to keep the frames running all year round without anticipating orders. In 1974 Edenderry was bought by Herdman's. The mill was downsized and a lot of machinery transferred to Sion Mills. Eventually only the dry-spinning unit was left in Belfast. Given the uncertain future of Edenderry, Mr Noble moved to Thos Sinton's of Tandragee in 1976 as mill manager. Sinton's was originally a corn mill. Thos Sinton bought the premises in 1866 and converted it to a linen mill. Throughout its history Sinton's has been a 100% wet-spun linen mill. The ordinary range of lea was from 16s to 70s In 1976 Sinton's had 22 ring frames. In 1985 they installed 3 Mackie Linmacs, in response to the upturn in demand for linen apparel cloth. Water was taken from the river Cushla. Working relations were very good and the union was short-lived. Wording conditions were good. The installation of a second hand `card' from Braidwater in 1977 greatly helped reduce the amount of airborne dust. Despite these efforts, the linen trade could not compete with `new' industries and recruitment became a problem. The labour force peaked at 204 in 1988. Roughly 50%, of the largely if male workforce, lived in Tandragee. Workers were bused from Bessbrook, Markethill, Banbridge and Gilford. Sinton's customers were local weavers such as Moygashel, Bairds. Fergusons and. Clarks The mill also built up a considerable export business with Italy, Germany and Scandinavia Hollybank carried out most of their processing. The mill had its own testing facilities and were members of LIRA. Overseas competition became increasingly acute. The quality differential disappeared and Sinton's could not compete in terms of price. The mill was `mothballed' in 1996 in anticipation of a trade recovery. This never materialised and the mill never re-opened. There are currently plans to convert the premises to residential use. In 1998 Sinton’s established a business relationship with an Egyptian producer which lasted until 2000. A lot of the plant was sold to Egypt and Tandragee permanently closed. This decision was taken when it was realised that the machinery was deteriorating and the workforce had largely dispersed.