Coleraine Linen Industry

This place has long been celebrated for its trade in the finer linens, known as "Coleraines," but at what time it was first established here is not precisely known. The first bleach-green ever known in this part of the country was established at Ballybrittan, by Mr. John Orr, in 1734, for the bleaching of fine 7-8th and 4-4th linens. That gentleman having succeeded in establishing a very lucrative trade, other bleach-greens were soon afterwards formed at Gortin, Ballydivitt, Macosquin, Drumcroom, Mullamore, Keeley, Aghadowey, Rusbrook, Collans, Mullycarrie, Island Effrick, Castle Roe, Greenfield, and other places. The quantity now bleached annually exceeds 200,000 pieces; they are of the finest quality, and four-fifths of them are sent to the English markets. These linens are woven at the farm-houses throughout the country; the webs, when finished, are brought to market in the brown state, and sold to the bleachers, who assemble on their stands every Saturday from 10 till 11 o'clock, during which hour more than 1000 webs are generally purchased.

This is one of the very few towns of which the market has not been materially injured by the recent changes that have taken place in the linen trade. The bleachers of the neighbourhood also attend the markets of Ballymoney, Dungannon, Fintona, Stewartstown, Armagh, Newtown-Stewart, Strabane, and Derry, for the purchase of brown webs; but the best markets in Ireland for these goods are Coleraine and Ballymoney. At Mullamore is a large establishment for the preparation of warps and yarn for linen webs, commenced in 1832, by Alexander Barklie, Esq.; there are at present more than 800 looms in constant operation; the weaving is not done on the premises, but is given out as task work to men who weave it at their own houses. The only manufactures carried on are those of linen, cotton, hard and soft soap, bleaching salts, leather, and paper. A brewery and malt-house was originally established by Messrs I. and C. Galt, in 1770, and after passing through various hands was purchased by Messrs. O'Kane and Mitchell, the present proprietors, who annually consume 200 tons of malt in the production of 2000 barrels of strong and common ale.

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