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British Industrial History

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Thomas Ferguson and Co

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of Edenderry Factory, Banbridge, County Down, Northern Ireland.

Established 1854

1820 Thomas Ferguson, son of a farmer, was born at Clare, near the village of Waringstown in County Down.

1831 When Thomas was eleven years old, his father died.

1836 At the age of sixteen, Thomas also lost his mother and he became an orphan. he and his brother, John, became wards of the Rev. Dr. Johnston of Tullylish. He completed his education and was then apprenticed to a handloom weaver, named Brice Smyth, in Banbridge. Smyth was accomplished and highly skilled in the art of producing fine linens - even though he was blind.

c1845 After he finished his apprenticeship, Thomas Ferguson set himself up as a handloom weaver in Banbridge.

1854 As he was firmly established, he acquired a lease for 999 years of the site on which the Company operated for 137 years. The factory on this site was known as Edenderry Works.

1865 Thomas Ferguson had Edenderry House built, with the factory just below the house on the banks of the River Bann. The imposing mansion was built of Portland stone and Scrabo sandstone in a somewhat restrained Italianate style, and set in fine grounds covering some forty acres.

1866 He entered into a partnership with his two brothers-in-law, James and Benjamin Dickson, to form Dickson, Ferguson and Co, and they decided to build a new factory.

1867 Work began on the site which Thomas Ferguson had previously bought, and the factory was equipped with power driven looms with Jacquard machines for Damask weaving.

1883 The two Dickson brothers retired from the business.

1884 The Company, Thomas Ferguson and Co was incorporated, with Thomas and his sons, Howard and Norman, as directors with another son, also Thomas as company secretary.

In later years three grandsons of the founder entered the company. Two great-grandsons and one great-great-grandson were also involved in the business.

1929 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturers of Damask Table Linen and Piece Goods. The Irish Linen Guild. (Stand Nos. T.9 and T.22) [1]

1945 The directors decided to install automatic machinery to replace the old hand-powered looms - many of which had been manufactured on the premises by the company itself.

1947 The Ferguson family sold Edenderry House to the local education authority for £11,000, and it became Banbridge Academy.

1948-56 A complete re-equipment programme was undertaken, and the factory began to operate a shift system.

1988 In December, Thomas Ferguson and Co Ltd joined Franklins Group.

Manufacturing has been moved to a more modern building and the factory is now deserted.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen Website
  • [2] Banbridge District Council Online