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Co. Down Dromalane Spinning Company

Page transcribed & compiled by Teena

Drumalane Mill, Newry
Photograph & comment courtesy of Eric Jones- Drumalane Mill, which closed in 1961, was one of number of linen mills in the Greater Newry area. There were other plants at Damolly and at Bessbrook.This mill was converted into a retail centre as part of the 3rd phase of development at the Quays.


The illustration represents the Dromalane Mill, an offshoot of the great spinning and weaving enterprises of the Bessbrook Spinning Company Limited. It is situated in the Clanrye Valley near the Canal river and railway and although inferior in size to the mills at Bessbrook, is fully equal to them in perfection of outline and structural solidity. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that Bessbrook was the model from which the builder took his plans. At the time of the American War, the popular impression in Ulster was that the high road to fortune lay through the portals of every mill devoted to the manufacture of flax.

The late Mr Hill IRVINE, a well known and wealthy resident of Newry, became a convert to this idea and without having had any previous experience, spent about £40,000 in the erection of the Dromalane Mill. The walls are composed of native granite, the window dressings being of red brick. The stairs are also granite and the building throughout is, in almost every respect fire proof. Mr IRVINE began to use the mill for flax spinning about the year 1866. He continued it for ten years.

The Dromalane Spinning Company Limited succeeded by purchase in 1876, but owing to a depression in trade did not make it a profitable undertaking. In 1882, the Bessbrook Spinning Company bought it and it has since been continued at its full capacity as a spinning mill. Certain important changes were made in the machinery. There are 7,200 spindles worked by steam and employment is given to from 300 to 400 people. Bessbrook has telephonic communication with Dromalane and is partly connected with it by means of the electric tramway, the principal owners of which are the Bessbrook Spinning Company. The yarns spun at Dromalane are all sent to Bessbrook.

The model town of Bessbrook is owned by the Spinning Company, who employ at spinning and weaving from 3,000 to 4,000 of the inhabitants. Through all the periods of depression in the linen trade this company has maintained the even tenor of its way, demonstrating by kindly practical methods, that a large population of working people representing nearly every religion known in Ireland may live in peace and comfort.

County Down 100 Years Ago: A Guide and Directory 1886, by George H Bassett

From the Warehousemen and drapers’ trade journal, Vol. 5, of 1876, it was reported;

Mr. P. G. CARVILL J. P., has purchased the Dromalane Mill, which he purposes to set in motion at an early date.