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Read Norman Nevin's unpublished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 £4.00 per meeting is sought to help with costs
Some of the images to the left are clickable.
The final meeting of our 2015/16 season was brought to an end in the company of our invited speaker Mr Lester Morrow who contributed a topic under the heading “Some County Down Men in the Great War”. Lester was introduced by Chairman Don Johnson who immediately handed our guest over to the large audience who eagerly awaited our speakers presentation. Much has been said in recent times regarding the Great War so what was there to excite us on a subject well discussed. Lester foxed us all when he spoke with authority on the subject but from the angle of the Royal and Merchant Navy and their input, contribution and great loss during the four year period. This was the first time Lester had given this talk and although he used notes to guide him it was obvious that his research had been thorough, in depth and time consuming. His accompanying Power Point images which included statistics relating to both causalities and death sent a chill and hush around the room. One staggering fact was that more than 3300 Allied vessels were lost during the War at Sea with countless seamen perishing to unmarked graves. Lester included several seamen with connection to Comber,Newtownards and the North Down area giving both illustration and information. Everyone enjoyed the presentation as was obvious from the array and quantity of question on an acknowledged subject but told from a different perspective. The evening closed with a vote of thanks from our chairman and well received refreshments. The Societies closing event will be a bus trip and tour around the historic town of Downpatrick and it’s immediate vicinity incorporating important early Christian sites in the company of Mr Michael King an official from the Saint Patrick’s Centre.
An item sent to Mr John McConnell, Ards & North Down Borough Council. “Time to smell the flowers” Dear John, A few mornings ago while awaiting the arrival of some friends I had the opportunity to observe Comber Square from a slightly elevated position, “McBride’s 1st floor Restaurant”. Members of the Historical Society were gathering for a meeting so to pass the time and relieve my impatience I peered out of the window – as one does. In doing so my perspective on the Square allowed me to observe for the first time the complete panorama arrayed in beauty and colour. In particular I was drawn to the Yellow Tulips standing erect in the warm sunshine, here and there swaying from side to side in the gentle breeze, and nodding their heads to passers by, who, in general, were to busy to notice. I doubt if Her Majesty’s Guards on duty at the Palace looked so resplendent. The Square isolated like an island complete with Monument, Memorials, Flower Beds, and an abundance of seating offering repose for the weary shopper. My associates endorse these sentiments so it is at their suggestion and with their encouragement that I set these few words of thanks, appreciation and congratulations on paper. Doubtless, many others share these thoughts so perhaps this communication will echo their delight in the hard work and endeavour displayed by you and your staff. It would be appreciated, if possible, that the gardeners who carry out the flower arranging and grass cutting are made aware that their labours are acknowledged. Keep up the good work. Billy McCullough, Press Officer, Comber Historical Society.
The next meeting of the Society will be on March 14th @ 7.45 pm in our usual location The Parkway Centre. An entrance fee of £4 to offset costs is payable in the hallway, this includes tea/coffee and refreshments at the conclusion of the evening. An open invitation is extended to all, why not come and join us. Our next topic “ A Century of Photographs of Comber” by local man Desi Rainey.
Billy McCullough, Press Officer.
This sign is an indication of the most recent postings.
Comber Historical Society |
Programme 2016 / 2017
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 £4 contribution includes Tea / Biscuits.
For further details contact:
Elizabeth McCullough (Hon., Secretary) (028) 97521014
- 12th September
Annual General Meeting.
The Border Reivers
- 10th October
St Patrick's High Cross.
Dr Michael King.
- 14 th November
- 12th December
Fifty things you didn't know about Comber.
Desi Rainey and Len Ball.
- 9th January
The historical Graveyards of Co. Down
Dr William Roulston.
- 13th February
The Big Houses of East Belfast.
- 13th March
The Building of the Mourne Wall
- 10th April
Nesca and the family Robb.
- 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.