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Living Linen Interview LL2_R99/15 1 of 2


Sound Recording on Reel: Factory Manager at Tavanagh, Lambeg, Rosebank, also Clendennings Print Works. Library Transcript: Transcript. Summary: Reginald Barr was born of Irish parents in Connecticut, USA. His mother took the family home to Portadown after the death of his father in 1934. Mrs Barr took a job as a weaver or cloth passer at Tavanagh weaving factory. Other members of the family, worked as weavers and winders in Spence Bryson. In 1939 Mr Barr’s mother secured him an office job with Tavanagh. The Managing Director, Carl McIlveen, asked Mrs Barr if she would agree to Reginald undertaking a factory managers’ apprenticeship. The firm waived his apprenticeship premiums and paid for his tuition and travel to Lurgan, Portadown and later Belfast Tech. Tavanagh had plain, dobby and damask looms and were primarily involved in weaving household linens. Tavanagh also sold a considerable amount of linen suitings to Blackstaff. The firm was strictly a weaving business, buying yarn from John Preston as well as from Mallusk and Titeringtons. Tavanagh was bought by Ewarts in 1941/2 following the air-raids on Belfast. During the war, Tavanagh wove denim and canvas for tents. On completing his apprenticeship, Mr Barr was transferred to the costing office. In 1945 he was approached by George Kinnaird and asked to take over the running of an undisclosed weaving factory in the Belfast area. This firm turned out to be Lambeg Weaving Factory, and Mr Barr took up the position of Factory Manager in 1945. The Managing Director at the time was Sam Adams who had moved from Brookfield. Lambeg began to weave Rayon around this period and George Kinnaird bought over several other businesses including the Owen O'Cork mill on the Beersbridge Road. George Kinnaird died in 195 l , Sam Adams became company chairman and Mr Barr, General Manager. Mr Adams died the following year and was succeeded by Jim Copeland who was brought in from Ewarts. In 1957 Lambeg closed its weaving operation and bought a carpet tufting plant in Bradford. Mr Barr was offered the manager’s post in Bradford but turned it down due to family commitments. Reginald Barr joined Spence Bryson Portadown as Weaving Factory Manager in 1957. In Portadown Mr Barr worked under Sam Lutton - the Factory Director. Spence Bryson’s factory produced very fine handkerchiefs, using yarns of up to 140 lea. They produced plain, coloured, bordered, cable and tape handkerchiefs. The firm also wove a lot of aero linen and artists’ canvases. Spence Bryson was a diverse group producing ‘Corgi’ carpets and ‘Fidelity’ shirts as well as traditional linen goods. In 1966 Spence Bryson closed its Portadown weaving factory to invest more in their carpet business. As Mr Barr felt obliged to honour his pledges to customers, he looked around for a firm that would purchase Spence Bryson’s order book. Most of the outstanding orders were sold to Rosebank Weaving Factory. Mr Gibson Orr was Managing Director at the time. Rosebank wove mostly apparel fabrics and had a modern factory equipped with fully automatic Northrop looms. In 1967 Mr Orr offered Reginald the post of Factory Manager. He found the labour in Belfast unreliable and casual. Mr Barr let it be known that he was unsettled and before long Mr Joe Johnston, Manager Director of Clendinnings took him on board. Clendinnings were beginning to look at bonded and laminated fabrics. This proved a huge success and Mr Barr was made a Director of the company. When the plant closed in 1976 Mr Barr left the linen trade for good and saw out his years in the retail trade.

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Living Linen Interview LL2_R99/15 2 of 2

Living Linen Interview LL2_R99/15 2 of 2

Sound Recording on Reel: Factory Manager at Tavanagh, Lambeg, Rosebank, also Clendennings Print Works. Library Transcript: Transcript. Summary: Regina...