Hilden, Glenmore and Lambeg War Memorial
Researched by Nigel Henderson, with input from John McCormick
On Saturday 29th October 1921, a monument commemorating the men from the Hilden, Glenmore, and Lambeg areas who died in the Great War was unveiled by Mrs Anna Barbour OBE JP.
The monument was designed by Blackwood & Jury (Civil Engineers Architects of 41 Donegall Place, Belfast) and was built by Robert McHenry at the junction of Low Road and Mill Street on a plot of land donated by Richardson, Sons & Owden Limited of Donegall Square North, Belfast. The hexagonal monument with a domed top is built of Portland stone and is thirteen feet and six inches tall. Three of the faces are buttresses with moulded caps and bases. The other three faces are recessed and contain bronze plaques naming 117 fatalities.
Research facilitated by History Hub Ulster has identified details for 110 of the men named on the memorial.
The first fatality belonged to the Royal Marine Light Infantry. James Holmes was born on 6th May 1896 at Low Road to Thomas Holmes and Annie Harvey. James enlisted on 31st August 1914 but died of Cerebrospinal Meningitis on 2nd March 1915, at the aged of 19, and is buried in the Portland Royal Naval Cemetery in England.
The last fatality was from one of the area’s leading families, the Ewarts of Derryvolgie House. William Basil Ewart was born on 25th September 1890 at Glenmachan House to Frederick William Ewart and Mary Anne Elizabeth Valentine. Major Ewart was deployed to France with the Royal Irish Rifles in October 1915. He married Rebe Annette Grindle on 31st July 1917 and was invalided out of army service in November. He died of Chronic Nephritis at Derryvolgie House on 13th February 1920, ages 29, and is buried in the historic Clifton Street Graveyard in Belfast. His brother, Captain Cecil Frederick Kelso Ewart, Royal Irish Rifles, was Killed in Action on 1st July 1916, aged 28, and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France.
The youngest fatality was only 17 years old. Rifleman David Martin, Royal Irish Rifles, was Killed in Action on 17th June 1916 and is buried in Authuile Military Cemetery in France. He was born on 27th April 1899 at Ballynahinch Road to David Martin and Annie Singleton.
The oldest fatality was 48 years old. Private William Neill, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, who was Killed in Action on 21st August 1915 and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial on the Gallipoli Peninsula and at Lambeg Parish Church. He was born on 24th May 1867 at Ballyskeagh to John Neill and Jane McDermott and was married to Margaret Shields of Sandymount, Ballyskeagh.
Research to date shows that four men died after being taken prisoner by the Germans. Rifleman James Coburn served with the Royal Irish Rifles. He was reported missing during the Battle of St Quentin in March 1918, and it was confirmed that he was a prisoner of war two months later. He died in captivity on 14th October 1918, aged 20, and is buried in the Belgrade Cemetery in Belgium and commemorated on a family memorial in Lisburn Cemetery.
He was born on 12th December 1897 at Hillsborough to David Coburn and Emma Livingston who later lived at Wilson Street.
As one might expect from the locality, the majority of the fatalities came from the Protestant community but there are at least eighteen Roman Catholics commemorated on the memorial. Rifleman Robert Costello was deployed to the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Rifles on the Western Front in January 1915 and was awarded the Military Medal in 1917. He died of Wounds at the Bath War Hospital on 14th January 1918, aged 28, and is buried in Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Cemetery in Lisburn. He was born on 24th August 1890 at Low Road to James Costello and Mary Grimley. A brother, Private Samuel Costello, served with the Royal Irish Rifles and the Royal Irish Regiment. He was discharged on 25th February 1919 and was allocated one of the twelve Ex-Servicemen’s Cottages built on Wallace Avenue in 1930.
Linen Families associated with Hilden War Memorial
Researched by Richard Graham
Hilden War Memorial is located on a traffic island bounded by Grand Street and Mill Street. The land for the memorial, in the form of an obelisk, was given to commemorate men from the Hilden, Glenmore and Lambeg area who died in the slaughter of the First World War (1914-18). The monument was designed by Percy Morgan Jury, a leading architect practising in Belfast, and a son of W J Jury, a Belfast Whiskey magnate and founder of Jury’s Hotels.
The land was gifted to the people of the area by the Richardson family, leading linen bleachers and manufacturers in the area and descendants from a Quaker family who settled in Ireland at Lisburn in the early 1700s. The Richardsons owned three linen production plants in the area: The Island Spinning Co (now LCCC Headquarters) Millbrook Bleachworks (now housing) and The Glenmore Bleachworks one of the largest of its type in Ireland. The family lived at two large estates in the Lambeg area: Glenmore House (now apartments) and Aberdelgy (now a Golf Course).
But it was to another leading employer in the area, that the unveiling ceremony was entrusted – that of the Barbour family of Hilden Mill.
The War Memorial was officially unveiled on the morning of Saturday 29th October 1921 by Mrs Anna E Barbour, OBE, the American born wife of Harold Barbour – they lived at Strathearne, Dunmurry, now Hunterhouse College. They were in fact first cousins, her father having been born at The Fort, now Fort Hill College, before moving to America.
The platform party also comprised members of several other leading linen families of the area: John McCance of Suffolk House (now Colin Glen Regional Park); Malcolm Gordon (manager of Hilden Mill) of Clonmore, Lambeg (latterly a community and arts facility); Frederick W Ewart, of the enormously successful Ewarts linen dynasty, who lived at nearby Derryvolgie House (latterly the divisional HQ of the Water Service and Mrs Emily Reade, whose husband was a director of the York Street Flax Spinning Co, and who had before her marriage been a Charley of Seymour Hill.
It commemorated the lives of 117 men from the local area who lost their lives in the Great War, aged from just 17 years to 48 years old – 55 of whom have no known place of burial.
Just a few yards from the War Memorial, there is a beautiful children’s park with an interesting stone inscribed E M B Memorial Park … but who was E M B?
Elsie Milne Barbour was the wife of Sir J Milne Barbour of Conway House, Dunmurry (latterly an hotel) the Chairman of Hilden Mill. Sadly, Elsie Barbour died during the birth of her third child, Elizabeth, in 1910 at the age of only 37 years old. In her memory, Sir Milne Barbour gave the land for the playground for local children and also built the EMB Memorial Hall which stood opposite the War Memorial until 2000.
The Barbour’s only son, John Milne Barbour, also died young in an air crash whilst flying a private plane from a Barbour plant in Scotland to Conway in 1937 at the age of 30.
So, that is the story behind two of Hilden’s memorials to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and the tragedy of the owning family of one of the largest linen thread factories in the world.