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Read Norman Nevin's unpublished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.
Much excitement and enthusiasm were evident at the monthly meeting of Comber Historical Society (CHS) when they met for the February gathering held at the Parkway Centre on Monday 13th. Society Chairman Mr Robert Bennett introduced our renowned guest and much travelled speaker Mr Aiden Campbell and having set aside any other business handed the meeting over to Mr Campbell. Acknowledged as the author of many and varied publications in general those relating to Belfast and an authority in all matters associated with the East of the city and it’s boundaries, Belmont, Gilnahirk, Cregagh to name but a few. Of recent times the CHS has been attracting sizeable audiences, on this occasion we had almost 40 in attendance many with notebooks to the ready. Aiden, supported by a well constructed Power Point programme casually yet professionally walked us around East Belfast illustrating these large properties and the illustrious individuals and their families who were fortunate to dwell therein. Along with the industrialisation of the city came wealth, power and position and these privileged few certainly left their footprint when it came to buildings. These businessmen deliberately erected homes outside of the town which allowed them to escape the noise, pollution and daily stress of their places of work and to experience fresh air and freedom combined with status and position. When erected, many of these properties were originally on the boundary of the town as it was during the middle of the 19th Century while others were just outside the existing boundary. Over the next two or three decades the Belfast boundary was extended outwards so that the majority of the houses / mansions all found themselves included within Belfast when it gained City status in 1888. Fortunately, for those interested in the social standing of the well to do it is still possible to look and find these reminders of the not too distant past since many have escaped the developers' lust for demolition and can be seen in everyday use by both Government and Private Bodies. This was, without doubt ,one of our best evenings as was apparent from the number of questions thrown in the direction of Mr Campbell. His approach and attitude to all was to be admired, well done.
The next meeting of the CHS will take place on Monday 13th March when our guest will be Mr Ernie Wilson who will be introducing us to the “Building of the Mourne Wall”. Why not join us for what should be another great evening, we start at 8 pm in the Parkway Centre, a nominal fee of £4 is payable at the door which assists with our running costs and you benefit by meeting friends before and after, refreshments are included at the end of the evening.
This sign is an indication of the most recent postings.
Comber Historical Society |
Programme 2017 / 2018
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
- Sept 11. AGM and ‘Hidden Histories’
– Laura Spence
- Oct 9. Ulster Scots Autumn Talks
‘Henry Joy & Mary Ann - a Belfast Tragedy’
-Dr David Hume
- Nov 13. ‘Charles McKimm a Victorian Gardener’
- Dec 11. ‘Gillespie & his Companions’ --Monty Alexander
- Jan 8. ‘The Murder at Flush Hall’
- Brian McDonald
- Feb 12. ‘Comber at War 1914-1918’
– Desi Rainey
- Mar 12. ‘De Wind VC’
-- Lester Morrow
- April 9. ‘The Men who built Titanic Ships’
- 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.