A NEW BOOK
Remembering Rolo Gillespie
by Desmond Rainey
and Laura Spence
Launch Date Monday
3rd November 2014
Comber Primary School,
The people of Comber, its Industry,
its Characters and people of action
in photographic form.
The sad passing of
Britains greatest Jazz Singer.
Comber Audio Trail
COMBER TOWN SQUARE
as it used to be.
THE TITANIC CONNECTION
New Information and links
Read Norman Nevin's unpublished
history of Comber, prefaced by a
foreword by Erskine Willis.
Jim Gracey's comprehensive
Directory of Comber
is available now as a 30mb PDF file.
A Taste of Old Comber
A good read by Len Ball &
ISBN1 - 870132 - 06 - 08
Author: Desmond Rainey and Laura Spence
Publisher: Ulster Historical Foundation
Publication Date: October 2011
Order online now at:- www.booksireland.org.uk
This book paints an intimate picture of Comber, County Down, home town of Thomas
Andrews Junior, Shipbuilder, during the thirty-nine years of his short but hugely influential life
It provides an outline of Thomas and the Andrews family; and will be gratefully acknowledged
by the many who seek to learn more about this modest man – one of the most iconic, yet
relatively unknown, personalities associated with RMS Titanic.
Thomas Andrews Junior was Chief Engineer in what was then the largest shipyard in the
world, Harland and Wolff. Many of Comber’s inhabitants worked in the shipyard and
celebrated the launch of RMS Titanic on 31st May 1911. A Chronicle of Comber describes
something of the impact on the town and the Andrews family of the tragic events of the
Join the 1912 ‘walking tour’ to see Comber as Thomas himself would have seen it – or peruse
the Ulster Directories of 1870 and 1912 to meet people he knew. Read about the Andrews
family industries, the businesses, schools, churches and organisations in the town. The book
includes a diary of local events, 1873–1912, based on articles in the Newtownards Chronicle –
as well as detailing key world events at the time. These were the subjects that would have been
discussed round the dining table at Ardara, the Andrews family home.
This illustrated book will have an intrinsic appeal for anyone with an interest in Thomas
Andrews and Titanic, and also for those interested in learning more about the historic town of
Comber, County Down.
COMBER HISTORICAL SOCIETY (CHS)
Welcome to the Website of Comber Historical Society. The Society was formed in 2000 and aims to preserve and record information relating to Comber and to make it available to all those with an interest in our town. Whether you are interested in the history of the town, its people, places and events - or want to learn more about Comber as it is today, there will be something on the site for everybody. Please do get in touch with any comments and we'd be delighted to receive any old photographs or information you may have about Comber. This site will be regularly updated so please keep visiting.
You may wish to come along to meetings of Comber Historical Society. We meet on the second Monday of the month (September to April). at Comber Learning Centre, 1 Park Way Comber at 8.00 pm.
A donation of £3.00 per meeting is sought to help with costs
"Fallen Women of Victorian Belfast".
The Society members met at our normal venue the Parkway Centre, outside on this October evening the temperature was dropping, inside, there was was a warmth and a sense of uncertainty as the audience whispered and wondered how this evenings speaker would present his talk "Fallen Women of Victorian Belfast". Having bid everyone welcome especially our guest, Don Johnson our Chairman sat down like all the rest in eager anticipation. Our fears were immediately diminished when our presenter Mr Ivan Strahan, an retired employee of Queens University introduced himself explaining that no-one would be embarrassed or made to feel uncomfortable. Alone he stood in front of his audience, no screen, no projector, no lap top, most unusual! yet he had the Society members fully under his control. With an air of confidence and composure he commanded for the next hour our full attention and without so much as one note he guided us intelligently through his topic. Ivan had obviously delivered this programme on several occasions as was apparent from his demeanour and ease of delivery on what to many would have been an awkward lecture. Victorian values he explained bore no resemblance to life as we know it to-day, people knew their place in society, work was scarce, certain words commonly used to-day were taboo then and dress style was extremely rigid. Certain areas of Belfast were awash with houses of ill repute but all business was conducted behind closed doors and away from prying eyes. Then came the Reformers and the Temperance League who with the best intentions but poor application and understanding managed to have these houses of ill repute closed forcing the young ladies out and onto the street. The house of pleasure became Bed & Breakfast properties and used by visiting Music Hall Entertainers while the young ladies from the West of Ireland were paid to remove themselves to the Gold Mines of Canada and America. The presentation was enjoyable, informative and light hearted, well done Ivan and very well researched. Ivan reminded me of a footballer about to take a penalty kick in the 90th minute to win the game, of course he scored ... and received a well deserved round of applause from everyone present. I sincerely trust that his associates at Donaghadee Historical Society appreciate him as a worthy member.
Some of the images to the left are clickable.
Comber Historical Society extend a cordial welcome to all visitors, a nominal charge of £3 is payable at the door and is used to offset costs, tea / coffee and light refreshments are served as part of the evenings entertainment. If you are free on Monday 9th November join us at 8pm in the Parkway Centre when our speaker will be Nikki McVeigh, her topic, “Ulster Architectural Heritage”.
Billy McCullough, Press Officer.
This sign is an indication of the most recent postings.
Comber Historical Society |
Programme 2015 / 2016
Comber Historical Society meets in the Learning Centre, Park Way, Killinchy Street, Comber at 8 pm on the 2nd Monday in the month from September to May.
A £3 contribution includes Tea / Biscuits.
For further details contact:
Elizabeth McCullough (Hon., Secretary) (028) 97521014
AGM and memories of Bygone days.
Brian Fitzsimmons, Desi Rainey & Len Ball
Fallen Women of Victorian Belfast.
- November 9th.
Ulster Architectural Heritage.
- December 14th
A history of Magic
- Jan 11th
Ulster Family History
- Feb 8th
- Mar 14th
A Century of Photographs of Comber.
- April 11th
North Down men on the Somme 1916.
- Summer outing to be arranged.
Comar, meeting place of the waters, that was the name given by the ancients to a settlement at the northwest corner of Strangford Lough at the confluence of the Enler and Glen Rivers. Today we call it Comber, famous for its spuds.
Nomadic hunter gatherers arrived here around 10,000 years ago. St Patrick followed in their footsteps and founded a monastery, but its fame was eclipsed by the medieval Cistercian Abbey. Today that has vanished, and St Mary's Parish Church occupies the site. 1606 saw an influx of Scots under James Hamilton and Hugh Montgomery. Among the newcomers were the ancestors of the Andrews family who brought much prosperity to Comber. By the late 18th century John, known as "the great", had established a linen bleach green, corn mills and a flour mill. In 1864 his grandson erected a flax spinning mill. Later members of the family include Thomas of Titanic fame and his elder brother John Miller, wartime prime minister.
Old Comber whiskey was produced at two distilleries in the town. Last distilling was in 1952, although the odd bottle is still available, at a price! Comber was also a railway junction, with steam trains chugging their way through for exactly 100 years from 1850. Today the long-awaited bypass runs along the route of the old track.
No visitor can fail to notice a tall monument in Comber's Georgian Square. This commemorates Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie, who fought against the French and was killed while attempting to storm the fortress of Kalunga in Nepal in 1814. His reputed last words were "One shot more for the honour of Down" Another valiant soldier who made the supreme sacrifice was Edmund de Wind, awarded the Victoria Cross in 1918.
HOW YOU MAY CONTRIBUTE
One of the aims of Comber Historical Society is to preserve and record the history of Comber by noting all historical documents, artefacts, photographs and audio-video material relating to the town. We would be delighted if anyone who has any records or memories of Comber would get in touch.
Contact Desmond Rainey on 028 9187 8482 or email :-
NOTE FROM THE WEB EDITOR
The web editor is Adrian Hanna. I can be contacted at the address shown in the box below.
Should you wish to reproduce any material from this site, please credit Comber Historical Society.
New recruits always welcome.