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Read Norman Nevin's unpublished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
Memories of Bygone days.
Monday the 14th September marked the commencement of Comber Historical Society and their Winter and Spring programme covering 2015 through 2016. Being the opening night of our new season a brief AGM was conducted speedily and efficiently by standing Chairman Mr Don Johnson who then turned to the main event of the evening, a presentation delivered by three wise men associated with both the Society and Comber.
Some of the images to the left are clickable.
As anticipated, a sizeable audience had gathered to be reminded of past days in and around the North Down area. The three gentlemen in question ....... Brian Fitzsimmons, Des Rainey and Len Ball took turns to introduce the audience to each of their chosen subjects. Brian Fitzsimmons opened the proceedings with recollections from a senior member of his family who at the period c 1929 was a resident of the village. Brian described a family outing to White Island, a picnic and various escapades relevant to the occasion, the simplicity of the day stood out in stark contrast with the modern activities necessary for any form of outing. Following behind came Des Rainey who on this venture used his vast collection of postcards to illustrate daily life both near and far across the Province. Scarcely a town in the Ards was omitted with additions from Lisburn, Islandmagee and Portrush. Further afield he illustrated Lurgan, Enniskillen, Strabane and Londonderry. The postcards reminded us that they were but a snapshot in time yet invaluable in detail. The third part of our trio introduced Len Ball who in his casual and relaxed approach reminded us of his time spent in Newtownards prior to arriving in Comber. His love of Motor Bikes and all thinks linked to the TT Races were obvious but added to these was a thorough working knowledge regarding the industries of Comber! the Distillery, the Gas Works and the Forge. Whilst the evening was lengthy it was interesting and enjoyable resulting in both questions and applause from an enthralled audience.
The evening concluded in our normal fashion with light refreshments and an opportunity to mingle and talk. Our next guest speaker will be Mr Ivan Strahan who will talk on the subject “Fallen Women of Victorian Belfast”, we, as members are intrigued, so why not join us on Monday 12th October at 8 pm in the Learning Centre, Parkway, Comber. A £3 donation is requested to cover refreshments.
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
- Sept 14th
AGM and memories of Bygone days.
Brian Fitzsimmons, Desi Rainey & Len Ball
- Oct 12th
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.