Comber in the 1910s
On the morning of 4th January a body was discovered in the Lower Distillery Dam. It was that of an elderly Newtownards man called James Caughers, who fell in and drowned in the dark. The attention of the Council was drawn to the dangerous position of the dam.
An illuminated address and cheque were presented to James Niblock on 27th January, as a mark of esteem from many in Comber following his recovery from serious illness. Mr Niblock was a well-known figure in cricket and hockey circles for North Down, and had a business in Castle Street.
The Comber Point-to-Point Races on March 26th were over a new course at Carnesure. It was deemed not to be so suitable for spectators. One novelty was the participation of a female jockey, Miss Violet Cowen.
Attention was drawn to the state of the road between Comber and Dundonald at a meeting of Newtownards Rural District Council in April. It had been damaged by traction engines during the winter.
At a public meeting on 17th May, a resolution was drawn up expressing sorrow at the death of King Edward VII. Friday 20th, the day of the funeral, was observed as a day of mourning. All factories and businesses were closed, blinds were drawn and a united memorial service was held in 2nd Comber.
A banquet was held on 27th May in the Non-Subscribing Church Lecture Hall, given by the inhabitants of Comber in honour of William Drennan Andrews, who had recently retired as a judge from the High Court in Dublin.
James Murray, Magherascouse, a farmer, missing since 2nd August, was found hanged in a barn, having taken his own life. He was due to have been married on 10th August.
Following on from the Good Templar demonstration at Cattogs in 1909, a similar event was held at the same venue on 13th August 1910. One of the resolutions passed approved of the Budget proposals to increase the tax on whiskey and other intoxicating liquors.
On 23rd August Jane Robson, a lady of around 90 years old, died of smoke inhalation in her home in Mill Street after her bed had caught fire. It was surmised that a candle had been upset and caused the fire.
North Down Cricket Club again won the Senior League Championship. This was the fifth occasion on which they had won the title.
Newtownards Rural District Council appointed Mr W J Stevenson as lamplighter on a salary of £15 a year. It was also resolved to ask the Railway Company to keep the lamp at the bridge lit for as long a time as the other lamps in the town.
1st Comber got seven new elders on 17th October – David Brown, Hugh Chambers, Hugh McDowell, William McKee, William J McMaster, George Spence and James McCulloch JP.
On 18th October Rev Semple of 2nd Comber advised his congregation that he had accepted the Chair of English and History at Magee College, Londonderry, and would thus be resigning from 2nd Comber.
The presentation of a clock and gold scarf pin was made on 17th November to Thomas Rankin, who was leaving Comber Spinning Mill to take up new duties in Belfast. Mr Rankin had been their foreman mechanic for the past ten years, in charge of the engines, boilers and other machinery.
Mr James Park Cinnamond was appointed as new manager of the Northern Bank in Comber at the beginning of December. He had previously been manager at the Cushendall branch.
On 22nd March a two-year-old child called Margaret Agnes Reavy of Crescent Row died of severe burns after her clothing caught fire in the house.
Comber Point-to-Point Races on 1st April were back to their original venue at Mount Alexander, following a year at Carnesure.
Thomas McConnell was installed as the new minister of 2nd Comber on 3rd May. He had previously been ordained in 1908 for evangelistic work in connection with the General Assembly’s Committee on the State of Religion and Evangelisation. A reception was given for Rev McConnell in the schoolroom on the evening of 4th May.
William Drennan Andrews entertained a number of the leading residents of Comber to dinner on 2nd June in the Non-Subscribing Lecture Hall. This was in reciprocation of the banquet of May 1910, when Judge Andrews had been the guest of honour.
The Coronation of King George V took place in Westminster Abbey on 22nd June. Messrs Gordon, the Square, Comber, gave away souvenirs to buyers of their “Coronation” blend of tea. The souvenirs took the form of a tea caddy, embellished with reproductions of the King and Queen.
The children of 1st Comber National School enjoyed a special Coronation treat on 21st June, with tea and cake provided by Mrs McBurney, Moatville, Ballyrickard. Hugh McBurney played selections on the gramophone. Each boy and girl was presented with a Paragon China cup and saucer, while Dr and Mrs Graham and the teachers all received a Coronation souvenir.
Mr James G Allen was given a welcome homecoming in the Ulster Reform Club by a few of his old hunting friends from North Down Harriers. He had just returned home from Cuba, where he had struck it rich. He had gone there in 1908 to prospect for gold, having had some previous experience in South Africa. He discovered five good gold-bearing mines on land to which he had the mining rights and sold these to an American company before leaving Cuba.
On 1st July a new banner was unfurled for Comber True Blues LOL at the Orange Hall by Miss Bessie Stone. There was a parade of the town by the Orangemen, accompanied by the Boys’ Brigade Band, Comber Flute Band and some drummers.
In July Canon George Smith was forced to resign as rector of St Mary’s due to ill health. He had been there since 1868. His successor, Charles Campbell Manning, was appointed on 24th July. Canon Smith died on 23rd August at the age of 76.
Comber and District Unionist Club was formed at a meeting in the Orange Hall on 25th July, with Thomas Andrews of Ardara as President.
Farmers from between Comber and Newtownards met in September with a view to stopping poaching and sheep-worrying in the area.
The business of John W Ritchie in High Street was sold by auction on 20th October, due to the illness of Mr Ritchie.
On 17th November a 5-year-old boy named Alexander Byers from Railway Street was drowned on his way home from 1st Comber School, after falling into the stream that runs past the Spinning Mill.
At Comber District Ploughing Match on 4th January, William Shaw of Cattogs was winner for the third time, thus becoming permanent holder of the cup.
Thomas Andrews of Ardara was sworn in as High Sheriff of Down.
At the annual meeting on 26th March at the Non-Subscribing Church, a presentation was made to Miss Ferguson for her services to the choir and church.
There was a large rally in Comber Square on 8th April for the visit of the Unionist leaders – Sir Edward Carson, Lord Londonderry, Walter Long, and the leader of the Conservative Party, Andrew Bonar Law. This was the day before the massive Unionist demonstration at Balmoral.
RMS Titanic sank on the morning of 15th April after hitting an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland on her maiden voyage. Around 1,500 people were drowned, including the head of the ship’s design team, Thomas Andrews Junior of Comber. Accounts tell how he was a hero to the end, directing women and children to the lifeboats, throwing deckchairs and other floatable objects to those struggling in the water. On 21st April Rev Thomas Dunkerley preached a very emotional sermon in Comber Non-Subscribing Church. Rev Dunkerley, who knew Thomas well, said that when news came that the vessel had been lost he just knew that Thomas would not be among the survivors, for it was not in his character to save his own life at the expense of others.
On 18th May Island Hill had an unexpected visitor in the form of a whale, 25 feet in length. It almost became stranded, but eventually managed to make its escape.
Ulster Day was observed in Comber on 28th September. A special United Service was held in 1st Comber at 2.30, and after this men and women signed the Covenant and Declaration in the church grounds, the Square, Mill Reading Room and Orange Hall.
It was decided to build a Memorial Hall in memory of Thomas Andrews Junior. A committee was set up under the chairmanship of John W Ritchie. Arrangements were made to canvass the town and district for funds. The Andrews family also subscribed. Messrs Young & Mackenzie accepted the position of architects.
Unfortunately, John W Ritchie died on 10th December. He was a well-known Comber businessman with premises in High Street. He was a grocer, wine and spirit merchant and funeral undertaker, as well as managing director of Comber Gas Works and secretary to the Comber Cemetery Committee.
The new North Transept at St Mary’s Parish Church was dedicated on 18th January by the Bishop of Down. It was a memorial to Canon George Smith, who died in 1911 after a ministry in the parish of 43 years. At the dedication service a new organ was used, presented by Mrs G P Culverwell of Ashdene and Mrs John Allen of The Square.
A two-day bazaar was opened on 16th May by Lady Londonderry in aid of the new rectory fund in connection with Comber Parish Church. The stalls were inside a large marquee erected in the middle of the Square. Games took place on the Green, while a platform was erected in the Londonderry School for concerts and theatricals. Mr Boyle’s String Band played musical selections. Lord Londonderry referred in a speech to the laying of the foundation stone of the church by his grandfather in 1838. The location of the new rectory was in Laureldale.
The Twelfth was held in Comber at a field on Distillery Hill, lent for the occasion by the Milling family. The main speaker on the platform was James Craig MP.
A special service was held in First Comber to mark the anniversary of Ulster Day on Sunday 28th September. This was in response to a request by the Comber contingent of the Ulster Volunteer Force. Around 250 Volunteers marched from their training quarters to the church. Rev Dr Graham and Rev Thomas McConnell both gave short addresses, while Rev Dunkerley, Rev Manning, and Mr J Knowles also took part. The collection was for Comber Nursing Society.
North Down Cricket Club won the Ulster Senior Challenge Cup for the eleventh time when they defeated Waringstown at Ormeau by the substantial margin of an innings and 97 runs.
A six-year-old boy called James McBurney of Ballyhenry was killed after getting his head caught in a field roller. His neck was broken.
A presentation of an album (containing an address) and purse of sovereigns was made by the people of Comber in the Masonic Hall, Castle Street to Mr Jordan Crail, Comber’s station master for thirteen years. He was leaving on promotion to become station master at Newtownards.
J A MacDonald opened a new shop in Mill Street. As well as being general merchant, he was posting master, funeral furnisher and carting contractor. He was the father of James Macdonald, well-known cricketer and future headmaster of Regent House School.
The Ulster Volunteer Force had been established in 1912 to oppose Home Rule from Dublin. There were two UVF Companies in Comber, commanded by John Miller Andrews and George James Bruce. These were part of the 2nd Battalion of the North Down Regiment under Lord Dunleath. When war against Germany broke out in August many of the men joined up and became the backbone of the 36th Ulster Division. But in the early months of 1914 there was great tension and fears of an armed conflict against the British Government were very real.
8th January - "The Comber branch of the Ulster Signalling and Despatch Corps, under the command of Mr David Robinson, marched to Scrabo for practice. The night was not at all suitable, being very wet and foggy. This, however, did not deter the members, who set up their lamps and got into communication with Daisy Hill. After a very successful practice the members were entertained to tea in the Tower by Mr Lennox Andrews".
21st February - "A detachment of the Newtownards companies of Volunteers..... marched off to Comber to take part in the field manoeuvres, which were carried out on the lands of the Right Hon. T Andrews, about a mile from Comber. The weather was glorious and delightful for marching, and the Newtownards Company numbered over 130 strong – a most creditable turnout..... Some time before the arrival of the Newtownards men, the Comber Volunteers had mustered at the field under the command of their company officers, Messrs J M Andrews and G J Bruce. Company Instructor Findleton gave all the instructions to the men, who left Comber to attack, and Newtownards to defend, the railway line. The various positions assigned to the sections were quickly manned. Hostilities were kept up for close upon an hour, and Newtownards were able to hold the railway line until reinforcements arrived. After the cessation of hostilities both contingents joined forces in the centre of the field, and Captain Fyers, adjutant of the battalion, addressed the men.... "
Prior to April 1914 the Comber UVF had few weapons, relying for drill on imitation wooden rifles. But on night of 24th April guns were smuggled into Ulster. Comber UVF were involved in the operation at Donaghadee, and guns were brought back to Comber.
The new banner of Comber Old Standard was unfurled on 4th July in the Orange Hall by Miss Bessie Stone of Barnhill. Afterwards there was a parade round the town led by the Duke of York Pipe Band.
Sergeant Rogers, who had been in charge of Comber police for three years, retired from the force in August.
Dissolution of Comber Presbytery was on the cards, but nothing came of this proposal.
The centenary of the death of Sir Robert Rollo Gillespie occurred in October. To mark the occasion a wreath of laurels was placed at his monument in Comber Square.
Comber lost its oldest inhabitant with the death of Nancy Middleton, aged 105.
A magnificent organ was installed in 1st Comber. The sermon at the dedication service was preached by Rev Dr Taylor, a previous minister of 2nd Comber, while Mr F H Sawyer, who superintended the building of the organ, had charge of the praise. An electric plant was installed to help drive the organ and also to light the church and manse.
After the outbreak of war, the Comber UVF was addressed by Lord Dunleath, Colonel Sharman-Crawford, Mitchell-Thomson MP, and Messrs J M Andrews and Bruce (the Company commanders). As a result, many men volunteered to join up to fight against the Germans and their allies.
Meanwhile, the women of Comber met in the Unitarian schoolroom to discuss the organisation of a body to make garments for the troops. It was arranged to meet weekly in the schoolroom for instruction in the making of these garments. Thanks were received in November for socks and belts which had been sent out. Workers at the Spinning Mill decided to take up a monthly collection for the soldiers and sailors.
The Rev Charles Campbell Manning of Comber was appointed as a chaplain to the 36th Ulster Division. Rev H Gordon took his place at St Mary’s in a temporary capacity.
William Tompsett, who lived on the Glen Road, was one of the first people from Comber to be killed in the Great War – at the First Battle of Ypres in Belgium.
The Andrews Memorial Hall was opened by Helen, widow of Thomas Andrews Junior, on 29th January. The ceremony was kept informal and private, with the key being presented to Mrs Andrews by Mr Mackenzie (of Young & Mackenzie, architects). She then declared the hall open in a short speech.
Constable Singleton was promoted to acting sergeant in charge of Comber’s police force, taking over from Sergeant Rodgers.
On 19th February the North Down Male Choir gave the very first concert in the newly-opened Andrews Memorial Hall, before a capacity crowd of 700.
The pupils of Second Comber Sunday school decided to forego their prizes for attendance and answering at the annual examination, and to devote the money to the war effort. A cinema-musical entertainment was arranged, to which all the children were invited, as well as the general public. In another effort to raise funds for the War, William Niblock of the Square held a ballot in aid of the Belgian Refugee Fund. The prize was a donkey and the winner was John Quinn, miller at Maxwell Court. And a flag day was held in Comber, with proceeds in aid of local sick and wounded soldiers.
Meanwhile North Down Cricket Club resolved that only friendly matches should be played during the 1915 season.
A Belfast man was charged with firing a loaded revolver at a carman named Daniel McAvoy after a disagreement following a dance at Comber.
Comber’s stationmaster, David John Johnston, was in the news in August for his heroic action in pulling a pensioner named Kelly out of the path of an oncoming train. This was not the first occasion Mr Johnston had performed such a deed – in 1910, when at Ballygowan station, he had saved a Mr Dumican from almost certain death after he had climbed over the level crossing gates while under the influence of drink. Mr Johnston received a gold watch, subscribed for by members of the travelling public.
The Rev Thomas Dunkerley retired from active service after 35 years as minister of Comber Unitarian Church. On the occasion of his retirement, a function was held in the schoolroom in his honour when he was presented with a cheque for £500. Mr Kenneth Dunbar from Downpatrick was ordained as Mr Dunkerley’s successor in October.
Robert Milligan of Comber, a guard on a train, was killed in September at Ballynahinch Junction during shunting operations when he was crushed against the wall of the platform.
A recruiting party consisting of the band and 300 men of the Royal South Downs visited Comber in September as part of a recruitment drive. They held a band promenade in The Square, which was attended by a large crowd, and recruiting was carried on during this. A rather disappointing attendance, however, for a similar event held in the Andrews Hall by the 18th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. There was criticism of the slowness of farmers’ sons and labourers and other young men from the country districts in coming forward to volunteer.
Comber’s district nurse, Nurse Finlay, was prescribed a holiday after a period of illness.
In December a farmer named William Shepherd from Tullynagee near Killinchy was knocked down and killed in a car accident on the Comber-Killyleagh Road at Lisbarnett.
A six-year-old boy named Herbert Smith, of Glen Road, was killed in a road accident. Along with a number of other boys he had been swinging from the back of a charabanc and tried to jump off. His leg got caught in the wheel and he was run over.
Another sad accident occurred in May at Maxwell Court. A 10-year-old boy named Robert Boal of Ballymaleddy was thrown from a cart after a dog caused the startled horse to bolt. He died of his injuries.
The death occurred in March of Rev Dr Thomas Graham, minister of 1st Comber Presbyterian Church. He was succeeded by Rev J K L McKean, installed on 1st August.
Another death (in July) was that of Matthew Kerr, for many years a member of Newtownards Rural District Council and Board of Guardians, at the age of 66. As well as being a printer and stationer, and house-painter and wallpaper merchant, he owned the Gillespie Arms public house.
In April Thomas Andrews of Ardara resigned as chairman of the BCDR due to ill health. By September he was dead. As well as his role with the railway, Mr Andrews had been president of the Liberal-Unionists, Chairman of Down County Council and a Privy Councillor. He had served as High Sheriff of Down in 1912 and was one of those responsible for organising the Unionist Convention of 1892 in Belfast. One wonders how he found the time to run the flax spinning mill in Comber. As part of his will, each worker in the Mill, as well as the staff at Ardara and Maxwell Court Farm, were given a bequest of a sum of money equal to two weeks’ wages.
There was talk at Newtownards Rural District Council of the lack of public conveniences in Comber. It was suggested that a urinal be erected in the Square close to the Monument. A committee was appointed to look into the matter.
Many Comber men were killed in action at the Battle of the Somme which commenced on 1st July 1916. Among them were three brothers, who enlisted and died together, from the Coach Road Ballyloughan, Comber, County Down, Samuel (21) James (23) and John Donaldson (26).
Serving with B Company, the 13th Battalion, the Royal Irish Rifles Sons of Mary and the late John Donaldson, the brothers have no known graves and are commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.
Another victim was Lieut.-Col. Lawrence Arthur Hind, who had married Nina Andrews in 1906. A memorial service in honour of those who fell at the Somme was held in Second Comber Presbyterian Church on Sunday 9th July.
September witnessed a two-day strike at the Comber Stitching Factory by over 100 women workers. They were being paid a certain rate for stitching boys’ trousers, and when men’s trousers were given them they asked for more money. This was refused, hence the strike.
Sergeant W R Singleton of the Comber police was transferred to Donaghadee and replaced by Sergeant Archibald Wilson of Gilford.
An estimated £500 worth of damage was caused by a fire in October at the farm of Robert McBurney, Ballyhenry. A similar occurrence had taken place the previous day at Castleavery.
A runaway pony attached to a trap belonging to Mr McMorran of Scrabo, took fright and ran from The Square up Killinchy Street crashing into the railway crossing and damaging the gate. The train from Newtownards was held up for 10 minutes.
There was a problem at the gasworks in November when the gas supply failed. Comber was left in darkness and shops were closed on the first day, a Sunday, so people couldn’t buy candles. By Monday evening candles were completely bought up. The Spinning Mill had to arrange working hours to coincide with daylight. Matters had been sorted out by Tuesday morning.
A meeting in connection with the Vegetable Products Committee, a scheme for supplying fresh fruit and vegetables to the Navy, was held in the Andrews Hall. Mrs Herbert Andrews of the Old House was elected president of the new branch just formed in Comber.
In October Mr and Mrs Culverwell entertained a number of wounded soldiers of the district, and those on leave from the front, at their residence on the Killinchy Road.
The Spinning Mill workers made donations from the “Comber Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Fund” to the Red Cross and to those Comber men on active service at the Front. They also knit socks for the soldiers. RJ (Mickey) White organised a cinematograph entertainment in the Andrews Hall on 24th November in aid of Red Cross funds. Both afternoon and evening shows had capacity audiences. The recently-formed Boy Scouts, under their leader Rev Dunbar of the Non-Subscribing Church, helped to sell tickets.
Charles Kelly was sent to jail for assaulting Mr Johnston, the stationmaster, on 16th January by attacking him with an iron bar. Mr Johnston was not hurt.
A fundraising dance was organised by the British Red Cross Society in the Andrews Hall in January. And on 20th April a patriotic concert was given by North Down Ladies’ Choir to provide funds for the Comber Women’s Knitting Guild for Soldiers and Sailors, the Ulster Limbless Heroes, and the British Red Cross Fund.
The new Comber Petty Sessions court was held in the Andrews Hall on Monday 26th February, replacing that previously held at Florida Manor. The magistrates were James McCulloch, James Hill-Dickson, John Dunn, James Robinson, Hugh Ferguson, John M Galway, John Prentice and Arthur T Gilliland. Since this was the first day of the court, the magistrates chose to be lenient, imposing only nominal fines. However offenders were warned that this would not be the case in future. A Sloan, Ballyrush, was fined 1s for being drunk in charge of a horse and cart in Comber on 8th February. James Morrow, Ballyrickard was fined 1s for being drunk in Comber on 24th February, as was Samuel McGreehan, Castle Lane for being drunk on 24th February. George Mills was granted a general dealer’s license. Messrs Russell and Niblock sought an ejectment notice against Robert Milligan, Belfast Road, Comber, who was 9s 2d in arrear of rent. This was granted.
Rev Thomas McConnell of 2nd Comber was released from pastoral duties for four months to undertake YMCA work among the troops in France. A report appeared in the Newtownards Chronicle that Mrs Wakefield Richardson of Moyallon would take charge of Second Comber during May, but this cannot be confirmed. On completion of the four months, Rev McConnell was granted an extension by Comber Presbytery.
A football match took place between "The Old Crocks" and "Ardara Stars" on Easter Tuesday in aid of Comber Women’s Guild, which provided comforts for the soldiers and sailors from Comber district. £8 19s 6d was raised.
Comber branch of the Vegetable Products Committee, under their president Mrs H W Andrews, regularly sent gifts of fruit and vegetables, along with subscriptions, to the naval base at Larne. The railway provided free transport.
Hugh Calvert, a 12-year-old boy from Ballyminstra travelling in the side-car of a motor bicycle, was killed after a collision with a motor car at the junction of High Street and Killinchy Street. There had been concerns about this dangerous corner for some time. It was recommended that warning signposts be erected at all approaches to this corner.
On Saturday 7th July there was a street collection and sale of little blue emblems called “Forget-Me-Nots” in aid of the UVF Patriotic Fund, and in commemoration of those of the Ulster Division who had been killed at the Battle of the Somme. Although there were sad memories, the streets and houses were decorated with flags and bunting, and over £140 was raised by 104 collectors. The band of the 10th Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers played in the grounds of the Andrews Hall, and later in The Square. The previous Sunday a united service had been held in 1st Comber before a congregation of over 700 with £28 raised towards "Forget-Me-Not" Day funds.
In August four troops of Boy Scouts met at the grounds of North Down Cricket Club to compete for the Challenge Flag, to be competed for annually by the scouts of County Down. Marks were given for smartness of turnout and drill with staves, physical drill, Morse signalling, ambulance work, staff pulling and verbal despatch. On this occasion the winners were the 1st Holywood troop. The Comber troop’s scoutmaster was the Rev Kenneth Dunbar of the Non-Subscribing Church. In December Comber Scouts organised a concert in the Andrews Hall to raise funds for their band.
There was a protest against Comber Gas Light Company, who were proposing to increase the price of gas from 5s 9d to 7s 6d per 1,000 cubic feet. A deputation met with Mr Milling, the managing director, and an undertaking was given that the cost to the Council for public lighting would not exceed 6s 8d per 1,000 cubic feet. The Council agreed to withdraw their opposition.
The annual meeting of Comber Nursing Society took place on 25th October. Mrs T J Andrews presented a satisfactory report on the year’s work, with Nurse Cahey paying 2,507 visits to 160 cases. The largest number of these were maternity. The bank balance was falling, however, and they had decided to increase the fees for maternity cases. Tribute was paid to the late Thomas Andrews who had left £250 to the Society. Dr Henry believed that Comber could now boast that great attention was now paid to simple rules of health. He felt sure that the Nursing Society had played a large part in this.
The Bruce family sold out their interest in Comber Distilleries to a group of Belfast businessmen.
The death occurred of Arthur Hughes de Wind, former Chief Engineer of the BCDR, and choirmaster at St Mary’s for 40 years.
Rev Manning of Comber, who had previously been mentioned in despatches, was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in January, for attending to the wounded under heavy shell fire. In August he was moved from Comber Parish to Drumbeg, being succeeded in November by Rev J S Houston, rector of Magherahamlet.
2nd Lieutenant Edmund de Wind was killed on 20th March while defending the Racecourse Redoubt at Grugies in Picardy. For his bravery he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, which was presented to his mother in 1919. De Wind Drive is named after him, as is Mount de Wind in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada.
The Northern Bank moved into new premises at the corner of The Square and Killinchy Street. It had previously been in the Georgian House in the Square.
The Twelfth demonstration was held at Comber, in a field at Carnesure owned by Mr Hamilton Coulter, New Comber House.
Comber Branch of the Ulster Farmers’ Union was formed at a meeting held in the Andrews Hall in July.
Mr James G Allen returned to Comber after naval service in the Mediterranean and work in England under the Agricultural Board to help increase food production.
Mr Herbert W Andrews, who lived in the Old House, Comber, died at the age of 52. He was the eldest son of James Andrews JP of Carnesure, and he owned Carnesure Farm.
Only four public lamps would be lighted in Comber during the coming winter. They would be at critical corners for the purpose of avoiding accidents.
A very emotional memorial service took place in 2nd Comber in October for the late Lieut. Samuel M Geddis, killed in action on 19th September, aged 25 years. He had been a member of the choir and a former Sunday School teacher
A recruiting meeting was held in the Square, chaired by Rev Thomas McConnell of 2nd Comber. It was claimed that no other town, except Lurgan, had done so well as Comber in sending men to the forces. Colonel Robertson was sure that the same spirit that inspired Gillespie still flowed in the veins of Comber men. Captain Tait, of the Royal Air Force, appealed to young men of between 18 and 33 to come forward. Lieutenant Bates, Sergeant-Major Hill and Major Montgomery also addressed the meeting. A military band played music.
Captain George James Bruce was the son of Samuel Bruce, owner of Comber Distilleries. He was killed in action on 2nd October at Dadizelle in Flanders, aged 38, just a few weeks before the Armistice was signed. Bruce Avenue is named after him.
A united service of all the Protestant denominations was held in 1st Comber on Thursday 14th November for thanksgiving for the conclusion of hostilities. All the clergy of the town took part except Rev McConnell, who had influenza. An address was given by Rev C.C. Manning, the former rector of the parish. The praise was led by the combined choirs of the town, conducted by Mr A Hadden. The collection was on behalf of the Red Cross Fund.
A farmer from Ballyrush called William McDowell was killed in Castle Street after being knocked down by a lorry. Initially, the driver was arrested, but later was released and exonerated from blame.
A largely-attended meeting was held in December in the Orange Hall in support of the candidature of Mr T W Brown for Parliament. A vote of confidence was passed unanimously.
Rev Kenneth Dunbar of Comber Non-Subscribing Church resigned as minister, as he found he was no longer in sympathy with the principles of Unitarianism. He later entered the Church of Scotland.
It was decided to establish a memorial in honour of soldiers from the district who had lost their lives in the War. Dr Henry proposed that this should take the form of a house for the District Nurse, situated in sufficient grounds to permit a cottage hospital to be attached at a later date. This proposal was later overturned, due to the wishes of relatives of the dead, who wanted a monument erected in the Square.
An accident at Comber Station resulted in seven goods wagons being derailed and the railway was blocked with debris for several hours.
A post of Comrades of the Great War was formed in the Thompson Hall in March to secure the rights of ex-soldiers.
Also in March, considerable damage was caused by a fire at the Upper Distillery. The Belfast fire brigade were soon on the scene, but could not prevent total destruction of the still-house, brewing plant and grain stores. At one stage there were grave fears that the fire would spread to the spirit stores, containing a considerable quantity of whiskey, but in the end this was saved and incredibly no whiskey at all was destroyed.
In April a number of Comber farm labourers belonging to the Workers’ Union joined in a strike affecting much of County Down. They wanted 50/- a week wage and a 49 hour week, with extra pay for overtime.
Comber point-to-point races made a comeback after the War, although they were postponed for a fortnight due to the death of the Dowager Marchioness of Londonderry. Thousands of spectators assembled on the hill at Mount Alexander to watch four events, including the popular farmers’ race won by Mr Jack Hutton’s Defiant, ridden by Mr Patton.
Rev Thomas McConnell resigned from 2nd Comber with effect from 1st July, in order to do Evangelistic work with the Canadian Presbyterian Church. Rev James Spence Rutherford took temporary charge before getting a call to Warrenpoint. [Rev McConnell returned from Canada in 1933, and was installed in First Bailieborough. He retired in 1935 and died in 1955.] Rev James C Breakey was ordained to the ministry and installed as minister of 2nd Comber on 12th December.
North Down won the Senior Challenge Cup in August when they defeated North of Ireland at Ballynafeigh by 69 runs. The following month victory over Waringstown gave them the League title as well.
Rev J Glynne Davies was installed as minister of the Non-Subscribing Church on 14th August.
On 21st August a dinner and concert was given in the Andrews Hall for those sailors and soldiers who had returned from the War. About 450 guests attended.
On Sunday 28th September a united service of all the Protestant Churches was held in First Comber to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant in 1912.
Mr George Parnell Culverwell of Ashdene, Comber died on 24th October. He was chief engineer to the Belfast and County Down Railway.
Dr Henry and John Miller Andrews wrote to the Council on the urgent need for at least 60 new houses in Comber. Young married couples had to live with their parents, and overcrowding was not conducive to health. Mr Berkeley accused the Council of “shilly-shallying”.
Comber Unionist Club was revived following a meeting on 19th December in the Orange Hall.
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