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Portadown Foundry

Updated on July 9, 2013

Lagan Lighter

Lagan Lighter built in Portadown Foundry in 1890s.  60 feet x 13 feet 6 inches wide.
Lagan Lighter built in Portadown Foundry in 1890s. 60 feet x 13 feet 6 inches wide. | Source

Owners

Over the 139 years in operation there were five different families were owned the business.

Woolsey - The founder John Woolsey started the foundry in 1844. The Foundry received orders and prospered. His son Robert worked in the business. John Woolsey retired in 1879.

Bright - George and William Henry Bright took over the Foundry and renamed it as "Portadown Foundry". Robert Woolsey worked in the foundry as foreman and then manager. the name was changed again in 1904 to "Portadown Foundry Limited". George Wright died in 1911. Brights sold the business in 1920.

Williamson 1920-1975 - James A. Williamson became manager in 1912 - bought factory in 1920. Steel structures were made for farmers and construction.

McNeill 1973-1979 - steel operation was mainstay. Nearby town of Craigavon was being created and McNeills wanted to help in the construction - but cashflow was short as large contracts in Africa were not paying the foundry.

Johnston 1979-1983 - Johnstons owned shops in Omagh, Portadown and Dumbarton (Glasgow). Business was slack - inflation was not helping them.




Background

John Woolsey started the business in 1844 in Edenderry, Portadown, County Armagh. That road was later named Foundry Street after the Foundry.

The River Bann ran beside the new foundry which was ideal for the transport of heavy iron and other goods.

Work

Work in the Foundry included iron products, repairs to boats on nearby canals, machinery for the linen factories and steel work. Other work included gratings for manholes in roads.

At the peak of business there were over 100 employees in the Foundry


Grating cover Carrickblacker Road, Portadown

Grating cover still in operation today - opposite Eden Avenue, Carrickblacker Road, Portadown, County Armagh
Grating cover still in operation today - opposite Eden Avenue, Carrickblacker Road, Portadown, County Armagh

Products

Through its 139 years of operation the Foundry produced different products - these included castings, parts for machinery in textile factories, roofs for factories, barges on canals, railways, parts for aeroplanes.

Between 1914-1918 Portadown Foundry make hand grenade cases for World War One - there were hundreds of thousands of cases made. When World War Two started they were assigned to making hand grenades and tanks.

When the war ended products included parts for railways.


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