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A sunday stroll along the Lagan towpath in Lisburn

It used to be in Sunday afternoons we used to take our kids for a walk …… these days it is my husband’s new camera lens we take for a walk!

It was a cold, dry and bright afternoon so we parked at the Island Centre in Lisburn and walked along the Lagan towpath, heading towards Hilden. If you continue along this will take you to Shaws Bridge and ultimately to Belfast, but we didn’t head that far today.

Maybe it was the cold weather, but it was fairly quiet on the path – a few cyclists, kids on scooters, dog walkers and some joggers, but primarily it was just us.

I do have a fascination with old abandoned buildings, and am always struck by the beautiful beauty of a decaying building …. and the attention to detail that went into their construction. These old mills at Hilden are falling further and further into disrepair, I would loved to have seen them in their hey-day.

A brief history of Hilden mill

In 1784 John Barbour, who hailed from Scotland, established a linen thread works in Lisburn. At the same time his son, William, bought a derelict bleach green at Hilden and set up business. Later, the thread works were transferred to Hilden and as early as 1817 it was employing 122 workers. In 1823 William Barbour bought a former bleach mill at Hilden and built a water-powered twisting mill. The Linen Thread Company was founded 1898 and it quickly became a large international company. In fact it became the largest linen thread mill in the world, giving Lisburn a richly deserved international reputation. By 1914 it employed about 2,000 people and until recently some 300 workers were still employed there, dwindling to just 85 before the mill closed in 2006. The site suffered a major fire in 2011. In 2017 the old mill and lands were bought for redevopement by an English company St Francis Group. The site suffered a major fire in 2011.

Lots of wildfowl on the river too – moorhens, ducks etc …. and this very socialable robin who was quite happy to pose for photos, obviously well used to the human traffic passing by.

As the sun lowered the shadows grew even longer and our faces were so cold, we were glad to return back along to the car. Thankful for the time and space on a Sunday afternoon to get away from the busy-ness of life.

I created a short video using my iPhone and the app Splice …. here it is:

I came across this drone footage of the abandonned mill which gives a sense of scale of the buildings and their state of decay.

I also found these amazing images taken inside the old mill.

There are so many lovely parts of Northern Ireland that are perfect for a Sunday stroll – I think we need to make an effort in 2020 to be more intentional about getting outside and enjoying more walks. Maybe this blog will be a good place to share our adventures.

Where is local to you that you enjoy a Sunday stroll (or any day of the week!)? Do let me know!

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