Following the River Bann from Banbridge through to Moyallan, the Linen Houses of the Bann tour gives a history of the linen industry and the families behind it through their houses. These include:
Edenderry House and the Ferguson Family
Built around 1865 by Thomas Ferguson who founded the world famous linen company, 'Thomas Ferguson & Co Ltd', Edenderry House was one of three sister houses in the area, the other two being Gilford Castle and Elmfield (also in Gilford). Both were built for Thomas Fergusonís brothers-in-law, the Dickson brothers.
Millmount House and the Cowdy Family
Originally a house belonging to the McClelland family, the house came into the ownership of the Hayes family who had a large threadworks nearby. It eventually passed into the Cowdy family of Loughgall, who bought the house and bleachworks in the 1900s. It remained in the Cowdy family until the 1960s.
Milltown, Bellfield and the Smyth Family
Milltown House was built around 1825 for John Smyth of the Smyth family of Brookfield to the designs of Thomas Jackson. The Milltown bleachworks John founded here were once the largest such bleachworks on the River Bann. It was here that Gerald Brice Ferguson Smyth and his brother, Osbert, often stayed, their father George having married Helen Ferguson, a daughter of Thomas Ferguson of Edenderry House. Bellfield, also by Jackson and bearing a remarkable similarity to Belmont, was built for the Weir family, cousins of the Smyths.
Mill Park, Laurencetown, Bannvale, Elmfield and the Uprichard Family
Originally linen drapers from Wales, the Uprichard brothers, James, Thomas and Henry ran the Springvale bleachworks, after having acquired the Mill Park estate from the Christy family. Other houses owned by the Uprichards included Laurencetown House, now a bible college, Bannvale and the sister house of Edenderry and Gilford Castle, Elmfield, bought by Emily Green Uprichardís father, Forster Green for his son-in-law and daughter.
Banford House and the Sinton Family
A very fine Georgian house of around 1790, built for the Nicholson family, one of the oldest linen families in the area. Ownership passed to the Haughton family, a daughter of which married James Dickson of Elmfield, before being acquired by the Sinton family, one of the more well known families in the history of linen in Ulster.
Gilford Castle and the Dickson Family
Another of the architect William Spence's houses in the area, Gilford Castle was built for Benjamin Dickson who, along with his brother, was a partner in Gilford mill. Benjaminís brother, James, built Elmfield nearby.
Moyallan and the Richardson Family
Perhaps the most famous family in terms of linen in Ulster, the Richardson family built the model town of Bessbrook. The house passed to the Richardson family through marriage and it still remains in their ownership.
Stramore House and the Watson Family
Stramore House is one of the grandest of the linen houses. The Stramore estate was granted in the late 1600s to a member of the Crozier family, before it came into the possession of the Watson family who had a linen factory in Lurgan.
Moyallan Friendsí Meeting House
A beautiful little Quaker meeting house dating back to the 1700s, many of the names mentioned on the tour were laid to rest here.