Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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William Ewart and Son

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of 17 Bedford Street, Belfast, Northern Ireland

The firm employed over 2,500 people, making it one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of Irish linen in the western world.

c 1790 William Ewart (1759–1851), moved from Hillsborough, County Down, to Ballymacarret, near Belfast and entered into the newly developing cotton industry.

1814 He formed a partnership with his eldest son, William Ewart (1789–1873).

1817 William Ewart III was born in November.

1840 The firm diversified into flax.

The first mill, powered by water, was on the Crumlin Road.

1843 William Ewart III became a partner.

c1850 Power-loom weaving was added.

1851 William Ewart II took over on his father's death.

1852 They purchased the Glenbank bleaching works.

1859 The firm moved to extensive warehouses at 11 Donegal Place, though it kept its mills on the Crumlin Road.

1873 Sir William Ewart, first baronet (1817–1889), succeeded his father in the business. He was also a politician and philanthropist.

1876 The business prospered and the Ewarts up the assets of less enterprising competitors. It bought the premises of the Bedford Street Weaving Company and in the same year purchased the Mountain Mill, Ligoniel, from Waring and Duncan. After he acquired the Mountain Mill he built 500 dwelling houses at Ligoniel for his employees.

1883 During the trade depression, in order to protect the family wealth, Ewart turned the business into a limited liability company, with a capital of £500,000. There were six partners: Ewart himself, and five sons. Two of them were resident in New York and attended to American sales.

1889 The firm had between 5000 and 6000 employees and an annual wage bill of £150,000. It operated 33,500 spindles and 2000 power looms. William Ewart III died in Auguat and his son, William Quartus Ewart, (1844–1919), succeeded him.

1929 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturers of Housekeeping Linens, Men's Suitings, Fancy Linens. The Irish Linen Guild. (Stand Nos. T.9 and T.22) [1]

1955 Patent - Improvements in or relating to textile drawing, roving or the like frames, and stop motion actuating mechanism therefor.

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