Living Linen Interview LL2_R01/18


Sound Recording on Reel: New Northern, Braidwater & Edenderry. Library Transcript: Transcript. Summary: The Kyle family has a long association with the New Northern Spinning & Weaving Co. The family were minor shareholders. Mr Kyle's grandfather, James, was factory manager in the Northern Linen Co. The incumbent chairman was deposed in 1911 by winding the firm up. It was immediately re-constituted as the New Northern. Mr Kyle's Great Uncle, Archie Scott, was company Chairman. Ian Kyle's father (Scott) joined New Northern in 1919/20 and also became Chairman. He left the firm in 1966 and passed away in 1987. Ian Kyle's mother worked in the office of at the Strand Spinning Co. Ian studied chemistry at QUB for one year before joining the New Northern as an apprentice manager in 1949. New Northern consisted of Craig's mill and Charter's mill - combining the old Northern Linen and Ulster Spinning businesses. The firm's warehouse was at the junction of Clarence and Linenhall St. Although New Northern was a partly vertical firm, Mr Kyle was not given any training in the spinning end of the business as his cousin, John Scott, entered the firm at the same time. Mr Scott was destined to become spinning manager, and Mr Kyle, weaving manager. Mr Kyle became weaving manager in 1957/8. Although New Northern supplied yarn for their own looms, they also bought from Ross', Herdman's, Sinton's and Falls Flax. Although members of the Ewart family were on the Board of Directors and were major shareholders, there was no direct working business relationship between the two firms. New Northern wove household linens, tent canvas, glass cloths, damasks and some furnishing fabrics. Their single most important product was, however, rayon dress goods. New Northern had a total of c800 looms, including some Northrop automatic changers. The firm ran off 3 steam engines that drove the machinery via a system of ropes and longitudinal shafting. The engines also generated most of the light. A race taken from the river Farset ran directly through the premises and provided ample water for the factory. Although a lot of their cloth was sold loom-state, they did use Ross', Kiltonga and Brown & Adam for bleaching, dyeing and finishing. In 1949 New Northern employed some 2,500 people and owned a number of houses in the Northumberland/Dundee St area. The workforce was mixed in terms of religion. All of the weavers were female. The labour force contracted over the years due to the introduction of more modern weaving machinery as well as the general linen recession. Moygashel was New Northern's single largest customer and as Moygashel sought to guarantee an ever greater proportion of New Northern's output Scott Kyle asked why they didn't buy the firm! The firm was in some financial difficulty at the time. The deal was finalised in the early 1960s. Scott Kyle later retired and Ian was moved up to Braidwater mill in Ballymena, after a short spell at Smyth' s Weaving Co. The shrinkage in production freed up a lot of factory space. As a result, New Northern Properties and Securities was formed in 1960; and space rented out in small units. This was not sold to Moygashel. Moygashel closed the New Northern spinning operation. At Braidwater Mr Kyle was responsible for the ancillary departments such as transport and maintenance. He was made redundant in 1971 whenever Courtaulds bought over Moygashel. He then spent a short period of time with Spence Bryson (Edenderry mill) before leaving. Mr Kyle finished his working life in the very different field of radio telecommunications.