The place we know now as Upperlands sits at the foot of the Carntogher mountain, shrouded by the Glenconkeyne Forest and given life by the Knockoneill River.

Home to an abundance of wildlife, the opportunity that this land offered was spotted early on. Harnessing the power of the rivers, a Linen Mill and community was created that would grow and sustain the area for over 300 years.

With over 600 employees William Clark and Sons held the position as the largest industrial operation in Mid-Ulster during the first half of the 20th century. Proving resilience by surviving two world wars, the major fire of 1929 and the economic upheaval of the Linen Trade in the 1930’s. Upperlands was home to some of the finest and most reputable Linen Mills in Ireland. To this day Upperlands is still defined by its relationship with Flax. Our linen mill continues to provide employment and a sustainable way of life for those living there.

Last Friday we were invited to join with our community and First Minister Arelene Foster to celebrate the hard work ethic of the Upperlands people- in the opening of the Flax Visitor Centre. A beautiful facility conceived by the tireless members of the Upperlands Community Development Ltd. Whose dedication to preserving our area’s history and developing a sustainable community is unmatched.

A former working beetling mill- ‘Road Engines Beetling House’ the visitor centre is itself a physical reminder of our community’s heritage. Fusing local history with the present day. Visitors can enjoy an immersive learning experience on the area’s history, witness a commercially active Beetling machine and enjoy handmade refreshments in the Flax coffee shop while taking in the spectacular surrounding landscape.

The event was attended by our own Managing Director Paul Callan and Sales Director Paul Jenkins. We spoke with Paul Jenkins earlier to hear more about the day-

“Myself and Paul Callan attended the official opening of the Flax Visitor Centre in Upperlands, the key note speaker was The NI First Minister Arlene Foster MLA and Bill Maguiness.

William Clark amongst others sponsored the event, as a local employer we are keen to develop local relationships and links with the community. There were local MLA’s and councilors , and members of the local Upperlands Community Development Group. The museum and visitors centre show the history of the area and indeed feature the history of William Clark, Bruce Clark helped a lot in the set up of the centre with information and images, and it is hoped that it will attract tourists to the area.” (Paul Jenkins, Sales Director).

We are excited to have such an engaging attraction promoting an awareness of linen and celebrating the area’s history. Upperlands Community Development Ltd are a group that match our beliefs as a business and we are thankful to them for asking us to be part of such a special day.

 

Photo from left to right Ian Orr of Ardtara , First Minister Arelene Foster, Paul Callan Managing Director of William Clark and Marcus Roulston of Ardtara.