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Living Linen Interview LL2_R99/01


Sound Recording on Reel: Education, history of Archibald family and Springfield dyeing and finishing works. Library Transcript: Transcript. Summary: Born in Northern Ireland, David Walter Archibald was educated largely in England, attending preparatory schools in Farehan (Hampshire) and Stow during WWII. After completing a spell in the Air Training Corps, David was taken into the family firm ‘Springfield Dyeing and Finishing Co’ on the Springfield Road, Belfast, while his more academically minded brother, Teddy, completed his studies at Cambridge. David began his apprenticeship in the family firm, in 1947, at the age of 17. The business had been stared by David’s entrepreneur grandfather, Walter Archibald, who moved from Scotland to Ireland sometime before 1903. David Archibald attended the bleaching and dyeing course at the Belfast ‘Tech’ on day release, where he developed an interest in engineering. Mr Archibald admits that he was less attentive than those apprentices who had their livelihoods to consider. The family also owned the New Barnsley works and worked mainly with cambrics, canvas and suitings. David’s father, Walter Archibald, ran the firm assisted only by a manager and, at most, 3 dyers. The firm did a lot of, perhaps too much, government contract work, in particular waxed, sulphur dyed tents. When these orders dried up the firm branched out into the Rayon, crease resistant and Manchester trades in an attempt to fill the gap. The firm processed embroidery work for Spence Bryson, Ulster Weaving Co, Lamont’s and Richardson Sons and Owden. The Springfield Dyeing and Finishing Co had two dams and, partly due to the poor water flow, the second largest water wheel in Ireland. The firm also owned two beetling sheds and carried out mangling and calendering work. In 1954 David’s father sent him to Europe to learn about bleaching techniques and equipment. He visited various sties in Germany, France and Switzerland. The firm closed abruptly, in 1958 when Walter Archibald lost interest in the business and announced his decision to shut down production. David Archibald subsequently became involved with machine manufacturing where he was able to indulge his passion for engineering. For many years David Archibald has sought to perfect a textile handling machine – a goal which he pursues to this day in the firm of Bigger & Johnston, Bangor.