From the pages of the Down Recorder, March 18, 1980

From the pages of the Down Recorder, March 18, 1980

18 March 2020

KILLYLEAGH — The jobs of 55 workers at a Killyleagh shirt factory were put on the line this week after production was suspended to allow a bank-appointed receiver to sort out “internal financial problems”.

Full production at the Hill and Craig factory is guaranteed from next week but the company, which also has two plants in Belfast, admits it is in a fight to salvage its overall operations.

This appointment of a receiver and general manager for Hill and Craig’s overall workforce of 281 was made last Wednesday by the Ulster Bank and one of the new man’s first tasks will be to sort out a surprisingly healthy order book.

Meanwhile, the Killyleagh workers, mostly female, signed on the dole yesterday and were told to report back for work next Monday.

Since November the Killyleagh plant, which makes shirts and blouses for some of the main department stores in the United Kingdom, has ben run down from 100 workers to the present level of 55. Over the past few weeks the factory has been operating on a two-day week.

A company spokesman explained that the temporary lay-offs were necessary until the position of the firm was clarified and he blamed a number of factors for leading to the present crisis.

DOWNPATRICK — Down councillors have now thrown their wholehearted support behind the formation of a regional museum in Downpatrick.

After months of exploratory talks agreement was reached on Tuesday to scrap plans for a small local museum and devote full council resources to a grandiose scheme, already seen as potentially the finest museum in Europe.

The decision by the council also means that plans for a major arts centre are also to be altered to fuse with the new museum. The location for the new centre is at the old gaol complex, part of which has already been earmarked by the Department of Environment for a car park. Negotiations are currently underway in an attempt to stop the Department demolishing parts of buildings which are needed for the museum.

The entire gaol complex — the Governor’s residence, gate lodges, the surrounding wall, and the goal itself — is unique and worthy of preservation. There are also nearby structures, such as the Southwell Buildings and Down Cathedral, which would form a vital part of the museum.

Northern Ireland Arts Council experts have confirmed that the buildings within the gaol complex present one of the finest natural sites in the British Isles.

PORTAFERRY — The battle to prevent sewage into Strangford Lough  from a new outlet at Portaferry, is hotting up.

Yachtsmen, biologists and the National Trust have joined forces in a bid to get the Department and Environment to change its ‘criminal’ plans for the sewage scheme.

And now a public protest meeting is to be held in Newtownards Town Hall on Tuesday night, when a last ditch bid is to be made to protect the lough beauty spot.

It is welcome news for Portaferry Development  Association who have been fighting doggedly on their own against what they have described as a bureaucratic whitewash.

And yesterday, one of their members, Dr Frank Duff, evaluated the chances of success for the latest bid to get the Department to change its proposals.

He bluntly said: “It would almost take a miracle. They are going blindly on with their plans and have ignored any suggestions or advice we have offered up till now.

“The Association took professional here, there and everywhere, before we event began to object. We also talked with fishermen who know the area very well, and who are aware the Department will destroy everything in the lough,” added.

NEWCASTLE — Church bells rang out in celebration over the weekend in Newcastle.

The bells — six in all and made of pure bronze — were installed at St John’s Parish Church last November and dedicated by the Bishop of Down and Dromore, G A Quin, on Saturday.

Bishop Quin was performing one of his last duties before he retires at the end of the month. The preacher at the special dedication service was the Very Rev Victor Griffin, Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

Also participating in the service was the president of the Irish Association of Change Ringers, the Very Rev Maurice Talbot.

One hundred bell ringers from all over Ireland took their turn in ringing the bells after the service.

St John’s, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary in two years, is now the 14th church in Northern Ireland with a ‘pearl of bells’, while the number in the Republic is 16.

The bells cost more than £8,500 and £4,500 to install, and they replace a solitary bell in the tower. They will be used to ring out for Sunday worship and on special occasions such as weddings.

STRANGFORD LOUGH — Strangford Lough has been identified as an area ‘of the highest importance for the conservation of wild birds’, in a special study released.

The study, a technical guidance document, identifies and evaluates the ornithological interest of the Ulster coastline and was prepared by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

The study carries a number of broad recommendations which the RSPB strongly believe should be implemented.

‘The sites of national or international importance in Ulster, support a wide diversity of bird species, often in exceptional numbers, and careful planning is required to maintain them for the future,’ the report says.

‘The scientifically rich and varied coastline of the province provides excellent opportunities for field studies, and students from schools and universities make extensive use of this facility.’

The study was prepared at the request of the Department of Environment and was officially handed over at Stormont on Thursday by Mr John Andrews, head of the conservation planning department of the RSPB.

BALLYNAHINCH — Mr Ray McCleery, of Ballynahinch, has been named as one of his company’s top timber infestation surveyors, and to mark his achievement he was invited to attend a special presentation ceremony at a top London hotel.

Ray, who is based at Rentokil’s branch off in Belfast, succeeded in beating 140 of his colleagues from throughout the UK in a sales contest and as a result was flown to London by the firm to attend  a luncheon hosted by the managing director of Rentokil’s woodworm and dry rot division.

CARRYDUFF — Eighteen year-old Nicola Stephens was crowned the Co Down Dairy Princess at the Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster dance in the Millbrook Lodge Hotel, Ballynahinch.

Nicola lives on her father’s farm at Carryduff and is a secretary at a Belfast firm of accountants. She is keen on sport, plays squash and goes jogging twice a week.

Nicola succeeds Spa Young Farmer Christine Brown and now goes forward to the final of the Ulster Dairy Queen competition on May 26.

The judges at Friday night’s dance were Mr David Burnside, YFCU representative, Mrs Helen Henderson, a past Dairy Queen, and Mr Gordon Kirkpatrick, of the Dairy Council for Northern Ireland.

SCHOOL — Down High School, Downpatrick, will have its first every past pupil as vice-principal when Mr Walter Martin takes up his new post on April 1.

Mr Martin takes over from Mr Noel Orr, who has been appointed principal of Regent House School, Newtownards.

Mr Martin is a married man of 46. He was educated at Down High and graduated from Queen’s University in 1956 with a BSc (Hons) degree.

He has taught in Down High since 1956 and was appointed head of the Physics department in 1961. Fifteen years later he became head of the Science department and was promoted to senior teacher in September 1979.

Mr Martin is particularly interested in church and youth activities and visits the sick and elderly. He also enjoys sailing, fishing and shooting.