Ballymaclinton and the Post Office.
by
George Ithell

            This article is compiled from notes written on album pages by George Ithell. It will not be possible to use all the cards and photo’s George used in his display on account of the space it would require, and unfortunately many of the photographs are not good enough to use.

            In 1801, David Brown the local grocer of Donaghmore, Co. Tyrone, was making soap and candles in a small room of his shop. Such was the success and demand that the factory was built and prospered further. David’s son James had twin boys by his wife Ada, David and Robert. in 1895, the firm McClintons of Belfast was annexed. !n 1907 the twins controlled the firm. Donaghmore village is on the B43 road, three miles north-west of Dungannon and six miles from Pomeroy. A brewery was the only other place of employment, and the post office was open for use in 1830.

            The firm of David Brown & McClinton Ltd participated in the Irish International Exhibition in 1907. A typical cottage was used to demonstrate hygiene and cleanliness, led to better health and immunity from all prevelent ailments.

David Brown & McClinton Ltd’s Cottage in the Irish International Exhibition, Dublin 1907.

            The big success and popularity of the Dublin venture prompted consideration to exhibit on a larger scale. On space already reserved for forthcoming exhibitions the area was developed as a complete village. This was Ballynaclinton in the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition, the 1909 Imperial International Exhibition and the 1910 Japan-British Exhibition.

            Approximately 3,500,000 visitors passed beneath the imposing archway during the exhibitions of 1908, 1909 and 1910. The rental of £5,000 and the initialcost of £50,000 was offset by a charge of sixpence and any charitable gift of money. All profits were donated to the Health Association presidedover by the Countess of Aberdeen, wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at that time.

            An informal opening of the exhibition was on May 14 1908 and all mail was collected and cancelled at the Shepherds Bush W. Post Office. The completeness of the village so impressed the
British Post Office that facilities such as a telegraphic service and special handstamps were made available. The earliest date of a Ballymaclinton postmark is July 2 1908, but a ballymaclinton card is extant posted on June 9. The village shop was selling souvenirs and cards on the opening day.

            Structural alterations are obvious from the pictures on postcards with a 1909 date. The missing chimney stack and the altered roof are noticed with the rearranged notices appertaining to the hand-stamped cancel on mail posted. The village opened for visitors on June 1 1909 and closed October 26 1909.

            A unique card addressed to Ballymaclinton. The addressee Mr H. Wilson was the manager of the village in 1908 and 1909. The many identified ‘villagers’ are seen on photographs in the possession of Mrs I. Irwin and Mrs M. Whiteside, daughters of the late Mr Harry P Wilson, He can be seen on the extreme left of a Valentine’s postcard titled ‘Colleens Clamouring for their Letters’. The original photographs are the ones used when the colleens applied for an audition to join the staff.

            Ballymaclinton was closed at the White City in 1910, but smallerprojects were built elsewhere in later years. The Post Office in 1910 at the village General Shop was not esed, but mail posted at the exhibition received cancels from Paddington W., with a Japan-British Exhibition circular date stamp or the experimental machine cancel.

            A concert hall with a seating capacity of 500 was used for lectures and most forms of of indoor entertainments. A very popular demand, were the dances, which took place outdoors. Platforms to give full effect to tap dancing and fiddlers and a barrel organ provided the music.

            Irish beauty, charm and expertise were the qualities which gained places for about 200 colleens as demonsrators of culture and industries in this prject. Extant original photographs identify a number of these.

            Replicas of Irish history such as a Cross and a Tower were prominent and in detail. The Irish Cross in fact, was copied from Donaghmores own Cross which stands now, after 1,100 years. The Tower was 90 feet high with steps inside, giving access to the panoramic view on reaching the last.

            The blacksmith was essential in those years and especially in the villages of Ireland. Surplus horseshoes at the forge were sold as souvenirs for sixpence. Meals for staff and visitors were prepared from stock grown and reared in the exhibition grounds. Two acres of vegetables, meat and
fowl, ensured a ready supply for the kitchens. A row of cottages built on the north side of the village were used for workshops, and the dormitories were above.

Junior Spinning Champion of Ireland Kathleen Hicks

who volunteered with other celebrities of the Arts,

Culture and Industries to act as collectors

for the charities.

            Samples of various needlecrafts were very much admired. Queen Alexandra made incognito visits to see more of her hobby executed by experts. The Award lists mentioned numerous Irish convents and schools, along with famous firms for High Honours.

            From an advertisment of 1908 cards were printed to customers own designs. When ordering 25,000 the cost was 25/- per 1,000, and when ordering 50,000 the rate was reduced to 20/- per 1,000. James Walkers, Dublin.

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         © Exhibition Study Group 1998