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A Hilden Mill story: Thomas and Agnes McCormick

T McCormick POW photo

Prisoners of war in what is believed to be Göttingen POW camp, Germany. Thomas McCormick is seated on the left. (Image courtesy of Mr Tom McCormick)

Thank you to everyone who has left their stories of Hilden Mill in the memories box of our recent exhibition. This Virtual Museum post highlights one of the many fascinating stories we have received, courtesy of Mr Tom McCormick about his grandparents – Agnes Connor and Thomas McCormick.

Agnes Connor was born on 15 November 1893. She was the daughter of Thomas Connor and his first wife, Margaret Anne née Cree. The family lived at various places in the Lisburn area – Sloan Street, Largymore Street, and Derriaghy. Agnes started working in Hilden Mill around 1910 where she was a spinner in no. 3 spinning room. Around this time, she moved house to Leamington Place which was close to the mill.

Thomas McCormick was born on Christmas Day, 25 December 1893. He was the son of Thomas McCormick and his wife, Agnes née Ferguson. The McCormicks lived on the Low Road, and subsequently at Tonagh and Longstone Street. Thomas initially began a career in carpentry before joining the armed forces with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

T McCormick wedding - photo

Thomas McCormick and Agnes Connor on their wedding day, 1919. (Image courtesy of Mr Tom McCormick)

Thomas was the ‘sweetheart’ of Agnes Connor. However, their courtship was interrupted by the outbreak of the First World War in July 1914 when Thomas went off to fight in Belgium with the Inniskilling’s 2nd Battalion. They took part in the war’s first major offensive, the Battle of Mons, and Thomas was afterwards reported missing in action and presumed killed. It must have been devastating news for Agnes.

Two years later, in 1916, a postcard addressed to Agnes arrived at Hilden Mill. It was from Thomas! Much to her relief, he reported that he was wounded at Mons and captured by the Germans. At the time of writing the postcard, he was in a prisoner of war camp in central Germany, most likely Göttingen.

Thomas returned to Lisburn after the war and married Agnes in Lisburn Cathedral in March 1919. He joined her place of work where he became a ‘striker’ in Hilden Mill. During the Second World War, Thomas was allegedly Sir Milne Barbour’s bodyguard and always accompanied him, armed with a revolver! In later years, Thomas was a night watchman at the mill.

Thank you for sharing this fascinating story. If you have a story or memory about Hilden Mill or the Barbour family, contact us here.

T McCormick Hilden FC - photo

Hilden Recreation Football Club, c. 1930s. Thomas McCormick is standing on the extreme right in the dark suit. His son, David, is the boy seated on the ground on the right. (Image courtesy of Mr Tom McCormick)

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