Upperlands: A Trip Down Memory Lane

Cousin’s sister Mary suggested we meet and walk around the dams at Upperlands.


I haven’t been there for years and was completely disorientated. This is where we spent most of our holidays when in NI, though as a teenager I would stay with more cousins in Co Tyrone.

The Dams

The dams are being used now to produce electricity for local use; that hydro-electric power I remember learning about in geography O level. This was the map of my childhood summers, but so much has changed.
Back in the day, Upperlands was dominated by Clarks Linen factory.

Clark’s Factory

Clarks remains, but in much more modest accommodation, and owned by a Welsh firm called Evans.

New Premises

When I was a child the Clarks were still there. I am hoping to get some insight into my photos at some point when I catch up with my friend who I didn’t see on Saturday due to her laryngitis. She is a Clark and immensely proud of her family’s achievements.
At one point I glimpsed the chimneys of the house where she used to live.

Carnabane Chimneys

Her father planted the trees to give them privacy. I’d say they worked pretty well. So far as I know, there are no Clarks left in Upperlands. Wallace Clark organised a small museum in the original beetling mill, but so far as I know, it’s closed now.

Beetling Mill

My uncle’s house, has also changed beyond recognition, and has been largely, maybe completely, rebuilt. I remember it as a simple single storey place where we all crammed in. I’ll fish out a photo of how it was. My aunt was a generous and accommodating woman to welcome us as she did.

Carnabane Cottage

It looks pretty snazzy now.
But it was these sights that really made me catch my breath.

Looking In




So sad.
Fortunately, the rest of our walk was more scenic, and of course we were swapping memories and admiring the swans.

Swan Family

Nature is embracing the machinery.

Red and Green

The colours all around the water were stunning.


We walked along the road which used to seem so long to my small legs when we went down to the village sweet shop and back. This biggest treat was two ounces of Riley’s Chocolate Toffee Rolls. My friend and I used to put on acrobatic shows in the hayloft on the gym set that hung there. In this way, we raised money for the PDSA from a small audience who were cajoled to attend and sit on hay bales covered in sacking. In the ‘interval’ we sold sweets at vastly inflated prices, so trips to the village centre were necessary from time to time to replenish our stocks. One year our shows were halted when the bales piled up behind us tumbled down in an unrehearsed dramatic event. My aunt, maybe inwardly grateful for an excuse not to have to attend any more shows, decreed it was not safe and we had to find other ways to amuse ourselves. The hayloft was a brilliant place to play. Given NI’s rainfall, you could be inside a lot of the time. The hayloft allowed us to be out but sheltered.
This time the rain held off. The greens of the fields and distant landscape were soft under the clouds.

Green Fields

The dereliction of the factory offices was sad, and the new owners of Carnabane have fenced off the dams below their garden so we couldn’t walk along there. I’d have liked to see Foxes Well, one of the only places I remember actually seeing a fox in the country, but I’m glad Mary suggested it and that we went.


21 thoughts on “Upperlands: A Trip Down Memory Lane

  1. So sad to see the derelict factory, no doubt it all cheaper form China 😦
    It looks like a lovely place to walk though and I’m happy to have given you a new word 😉

    • Does really good quality linen get made anywhere anymore? That’s the offices rather than the factory. We couldn’t get to the factory. I took a photo from bryond the gates.
      Yes, thanks for the word:), maybe you’ll take beetling in exchange…

  2. That last picture Isobel. What a beautiful place. Just truly makes me realize how many much more beautiful places there are to live. My nephew loves Ireland and has been there several times. Makes me think how we can miss where we should of could of been. Maybe my Irish roots are calling to me. I am going to go hit the link and check out beetling. I went and wikied Northern Ireland.

    • My cousin has a self catering place, but is not pushing it very hard as when one of her daughters comes from Australia with two small children it is very nice for them to have their own space.

  3. We used to live in Carnabane years ago. We also went back last summer and was very disappointed to see it fenced up. It would have been fun to show my children where we grow up. Thank you for all your beautiful photos!!

  4. The beetling end used to make a hell of a racket. As a lad I remember running through it and watching with fascination as the wooden blocks were lifted up and dropped on the cloth one at a time with industrial speed.

    I was down that way last year and was astounded and greatly saddened by the vandalism of the head office. I was somewhat more outraged by the building encroachment on the old fort above the dams. Time marches on I suppose.

    I was lucky enough to take a picture of the path I tread countless times in the weaving factory. The brown room and such. Not exactly good memories but not altogether bad either.

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