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C H A P T E R 6
VILLAGE TYPES -INSPIRATIONS FOR PORTLAW
As noted in Chapter 5 the Portlaw that the Malcolmsons arrived at in 1825 consisted of a small cluster of houses, - totalling 72 in all, situated not where the modern Portlaw is today but on green island. Portlaw in effect as a town was non-existent - or even any sort of planned village. However, with the advent of the Malcolmsons the village was to experience a vast growth in size and population. One of the tasks that befell the industrialists on their arrival was to methodically replan the village so as to accommodate their ever-increasing workforce. What they created turned out to be a new colony, because they built a new village - a planned industrial village. It is necessary to discuss then at some length both the Irish and British type village of the time, so as to be able to understand the joint input of the two in the creation of the Malcolmson - Portlaw planned village of 1825.
As is quite obvious, the Malcolmsons were not the originators of the planned industrial village. More than likely they obtained many of their ideas from other villages and towns of the time in Northern Ireland. The impact of industrialisation is expressed quite vividly in the townscapes of many areas in Northern Ireland. In Belfast today the present urban landscape is a consequence of the industrial revolution'. "Belfast is par excellence a product of the industrial revolution, having once shared the worst evils of the factory system and the squalid, overcrowded tenements with similar cities in Britain" (Orme 1970: pg 179). Although conditions at the start of the revolution were bad, by the year 1840, by-laws had been introduced trying to regularise housing, by prohibiting certain types and insisting on others. These by-laws ensured to a certain degree a standardisation of housing. So much so that today many of the industrial cities of the North and of Britain obtained an identity - an identity which they still hold today - row upon row of industrial terraced housing. Over time and space, standards have varied and not all areas of industrialisation at this time period were the same. In considering places such as Belfast in the North and Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham Liverpool etc-, in Britain, their size and density cannot be overlooked as contributory factors in their development. Most likely it was the planned industrial villages that emerged in England and Northern Ireland in the late eighteenth, early nineteenth century that influenced the Malcolmsons. Robert Owen, one could say initiated the trend in 1799 with the building of the model textile town of New Lanark. It was here for the first time that proof was shown that "industry could have a humane face" (Galbrawth pg 36). From henceforth the planned village became a landmark of English industrial society. In Ulster "the tradition of housing workers reached back to the eighteenth century" (D.S. Macniece 1981: pg 173) Macniece makes reference to the coulsons of Lisburn housing, their workers in 1764, and many others such as Murlands of Annsborough, and John Barbour of Paisley - to mention but two. He makes, however, particular reference to the village of Gilford, as was developed by Dunbar and McMaster and Company of Dunbarton.
Gilford proves an interesting comparison to Portlaw, as it came into being around the same time as Portlaw, and many aspects regarding the village parallels much about Portlaw. Before it experienced expansion under it's patrons, it had only 100 houses. By 1851, just around twenty years after the development of the mill it had a population of 2,184, and a total of 359 houses. Just as the Malcolmsons built houses to attract the workers so also did Dunbar McMaster and Company.
They also provided many other incentives to their workforce. They built schools, provided heated and lighted reading rooms for adults, they operated their own gas works for the lighting of the village. Pumps were strategically placed in the village in order to provide a fresh water supply. A mill co-operative store was built to serve the community and children working in the factory were required to spend half their time at school, thus they, as the children of Portlaw were also to - become known as half-timers. As shall be seen in the next chapter. Portlaw was provided with these facilities also and much more.
Gilford is not an isolated example, however, as Macneice said "this impressive list of paternalistic involvement which could be repeated with minor amendments elsewhere in other villages gives some indication of the degree of the moral and spiritual framework which shaped the character of many of these communities" (Macniece 1981: pg 177). These other communities most likely refer to towns such as Bessbrook in South Armagh and elsewhere in England at the time, i.e. Portsunlight, Halifax, Saltaire, Bournville etc. Many of these famous towns proceeded the building of Portlaw. Macniece speaks highly of the Richardson Development at Bessbrook. It must be remembered though that it was Portlaw, which influenced Bessbrook and not vice versa, as William Malcolmson was James Richardson's father-in-law. In light of this, the praise that was afforded to Bessbrook can be also given to Portlaw, as it was Bessbrook's predecessor. "Bessbrook provides an excellent example of a model village consciously planned with a blend of Quaker zeal and architectural skill, to provide a garden village community for it's workers. Far from-the evils and squalor of Belfast"-,(Macniecd 1981: pg 174). Portlaw was to borrow from the North and England, just as they would later do likewise from Portlaw.
T.W. Freeman, in his book Ireland speaks of the industrial village being utilitarian rather than beautiful, and also that "it is a phenomenon almost unknown to the majority of Irish people outside the Northeast" (Freeman 1972: pg 201) Evidently the Malcolmsons obtained the kernel of the plans from towns and villages in the North, as Ireland at this time did not have many industrial villages. However, it must be remembered that Portlaw was essentially late in its development, and by 1825 the majority of Irish towns were fully developed, and many of these were just as their counterparts in the North were planned. L.M. Cullen writes of the village being one Of the hallmarks of Irish society and he maintains that "a very high proportion of them were to a greater or lesser degree Planned" (L.M. Cullen 1981: pg 61).
Orme categorises the smaller Irish towns into three development periods - Medieval, Plantation Georgian (Orme 1970: pg 209). As would be expected each type has its own development characteristics. He attributes narrow, irregular streets to the medieval period, followed by the more orderly compactness of the plantation settlements, proceeded by the broad street grids and formal squares of the Georgian era. It was, however, "during the later eighteenth and earlier nineteenth centuries that formal town planning reached it's zenith" (Orme 1970: pg 212). It was during this period that many towns came to be known as landlord towns or villages; also many others grew up around the market square. Stokestown in Roscommon is an excellent example of the early nineteenth century estate town, with a wide - 147 foot - Main Street leading to the gates of the demesne owned by the landlord and the Episcopalian Church at the other end. Birr is also a landlord designed town, so also is Mitchelstown, and here the classical market square is also incorporated. As Cullen points out in his work "hardly any of rural village before the era of factory employment post 1780 were in fact able to survive without the sustained patronage employment-and succour offered by a resident landowner" (Cullen 1981: pg62).
He goes on to outline three types of a planned village -settlement village, functionally planned village and the redeveloped village. If Portlaw was to be categorised into one of the above three categories, the village type attributed to it, would be without doubt, the functionally planned one. This type of village as the name suggests was functionally and consciously planned, Portlaw was indeed planned in this way also, however Portlaw differed from this village and so many others of the time, in one main ingredient, - it did not grow up around the landlords demesne. Portlaw, unlike so many other functionally planned villages grew up around a factory, despite differences in functions, similarities are evident in layout. As already referred to, the landlord's town usually had large wide streets, and a square - central in location. Just as the landlord villages of Castleisland and Tralee County Kerry, Dunmanway, Bantry County Cork, and several others were to exhibit such characteristics, so also was Portlaw, but it grew up under the patronage of an Industrialist rather than a Landlord. As Cullen observed "industrial villages themselves even if modest in standard of housing were frequently ambitious in planning... while the purposes of industrial village and of market village were slightly different, there was no clear difference in planning" (Cullen1981:pg 76/77).
It is only now with a brief knowledge of the English Industrial village and the Irish planned village as given above that it is possible to look at the development of Portlaw as a fusion of both. Many elements, characteristic of the above can be identified in Portlaw. However, Portlaw was different in the respect that it lies at the gates of Lord Waterford's demesne, yet it never developed as an estate village. It was, and still is today, purely industrial.
As can be seen in the next chapter, it was a model industrial village, Aalen in his book Man and the Landscape quotes Portlaw as one of the two major examples of a model industrial village, found in Ireland in the nineteenth century. "The first was Portlaw in County Waterford, built by the Quaker cotton-spinning firm of Malcolmson in the 1820's" (Aalen, 1978: pg 284). He cites Bessbrook as the second major example and also notes that it was probably influenced by Portlaw. Portlaw, therefore is not just another village of nineteenth century Ireland, it was a place that was thriving whilst parts of Ireland were economically weak. It reaped the benefits of being late in development, as it served to prosper from the experience of other villages. It became a village typical of the experience of New Lanark and it's like, however, it also was to send ripples out, it was one of the many forces working in the nineteenth century to change the face of industrial society, - it served to give industry a humane face, and to discard the many notions associated with the industrial townscape. Portlaw being an industrial village came to be effected by the ebb and flow of industrial prosperity, the cotton industry and the Malcolmsons were it's lifestream, when they prospered, Portlaw prospered, and when they fell Portlaw was to fall, as time has unfolded.
THE MODEL VILLAGE OF PORTLAW
Many myths have originated as to how Portlaw acquired it's distinct layout, which is still intact and evident today. As can be observed from the 1901 map, it consists of a central square from, which radiates a web of five streets, converging to form three distinct triangles. Among the most popular myth is the story that David Malcolmson on sitting down to plan the village laid his hands upon the table, and decided to build Portlaw in the shape of a hand, with the palm signifying the square and the four main streets, the four fingers. Another myth was that the streets represented the rays of the sun. However, as mentioned previously, the industrial village is utilitarian rather than beautiful, and this was the case in Portlaw. It was a functionally, practically built village. Portlaw was built for the betterment of the workers and it was shaped by the characters of it's originators. That is, the Malcolmsons were practical business people and therefore in designing Portlaw it was laid out with practicality in mind. The main purpose of it's layout was to serve the outpourings of the people from the factory. Therefore the village layout was admirably suited to the particular needs of the community. The roads of the streets were 40 feet wide and the pavement 12 feet wide. It is said that on a wet day some workers arrived home dry, due to the crowds of people all converging on the square after work had finished. At the height of the factory's prosperity, it was employing well over 1,000 people. In order to accommodate these people, emerging out of the one building at the same time practicality was required and therefore implemented in the case of Portlaw. Credence must be given to the myths to a certain degree. However, it must be acknowledged, if the layout was not practical and beneficial it would have been discarded. Aesthetically speaking, the village was quite pleasant, with three major buildings forming the pivot of each triangle. Although the above layout is the shape of Portlaw that is known and referred to in any literature on Portlaw, nobody has mentioned previously the map of 1841. As can be seen from this map the layout is quite different to the present one! However, it has always been assumed that the web pattern was the original layout, evidently this is not so. The Malcolmsons arrived in Portlaw in 1825, and it cannot be said that perhaps they had not begun to develop the village by 1841, because at this point the population was 3,647 and there were 458 houses in comparison to the 71 inhabited in 1821, previous to the Malcolmsons. Also in 1841 according to the census, 31 houses were being built
Unquestionably Portlaw was not built in a day, therefore the 1841 layout must have been a stage in the development. Streets identifiable in the 1841 edition, appear to be Brown Street, Main Street, Bridge Street and several other small streets. Interestingly enough in Griffith's valuation of 1852 the Malcolmsons appear to be only immediate lessors of a few houses in those streets, and as shall be seen in 1852 they were major lessors in other streets which apparently were not developed in 1841. By 1901, they were ground landlord to the majority, if not all the houses, in the streets listed above. Also by 1901 the web layout was in tact. I feel, therefore, that one can only presume that as time progressed and the factory employed more persons, the Malcolmsons on building more houses redeveloped the village. This redevelopment must have taken place between 1841 and 1871, as these twenty years were the post productive for the Malcolmsons.
It must be acknowledged that the Malcolmson family were not the only people to benefit from their cotton factory, there being many others who were laymen to the prosperous Portlaw. That is people who moved to Portlaw with the advent of the Malcolmsons, to serve the growing population. Many people extracted wealth from Portlaw as a consequence of the Malcolmsons establishing a flourishing economy in the little village. Trade directories give ample proof of this. Take for example, Slaters directory of 1846, he describes Portlaw as "a thriving little village", and carries on to say that "twenty years ago there was scarcely a cabin to be seen on the spot which is now the site of a flourishing colony, busy and joyous with the hum of renumerated industry" (Slater 1846: pg 303). Much more practical and interesting is the lists he gives of public house owners, shopkeepers and traders. In all he recorded 31 shopkeepers and traders as well as 7 public house owners.
Table 3 Various Trades as listed by Slaters and Pigots Commercial Directory
Slaters and Pigots Trade Directories 1846, 18e6, 1893
As the table above shows Portlaw over time became a well-supplied village. The high numbers of grocers, drapers, bakers vintners-etc, all prove as indicators to the prosperity of the traders as well as the people. Evidently enough the only reason there is such an array of trades is because of the need of them by' the inhabitants. Also it must be mentioned that because vintners, coal merchants etc are not mentioned in 1846 does not necessarily mean that they were not established in the village, as the 1846 data is taken from a different directory to the 1886 and 1893 one.
These trade directories also proved to be beneficial in another way. Many of the traders named in the directories, reappear as immediate lessors of property and housing in Griffiths valuation of 1852. Evidently the Malcolmsons could not build enough houses for their employees. Also houses had to be built for the many others who came to Portlaw during the nineteenth century, but who were not employed in the factory e.g. farmhands, limeburners, builders etc. It may be presumed therefore that many people built houses to accommodate the growing population, thus accounting for the large number of houses not leased by the Malcolmsons in 1852. The table below indicates this necessity for housing by virtue of the increase in population between 1821 and 1871.
Table 4 Housing and Population in Portlaw 1821 - 1891
Source: Reports on Censuses Data 1821 - 1891
Evidently the factory 1 had a multiplier effect. If in 1850 it was employing 1,362 people, they obviously had to be fed and clothed, thus providing many spin off industries. However, the traders and merchants were not-the only people to profit from the factory. Many lay unskilled labourers were required as well as servants and domestic staff. Also quite a large number were required in the neighbouring countryside to man the farms and help in the production of produce consumed in the town itself. In 1841 out of a total of 677 families, 323 were dependent on agriculture and 276 on manufactures and trade. A more detailed account is given in the tables below taken from data in the 1871 census.
Table 5 Male Occupation Class 1871
Source: Report on 1871 Census Data
Table 5.1 Female Occupation Class 1871
Source: Report on 1871 Census Data
Both tables above show clearly where the population not employed in the factory were working. I thought it most peculiar that in the male classification, the agricultural labourers were attributed a higher-class category than the skilled craftsmen in the factory. Seemingly class categories and social classes were an intrinsic part of the industrial revolution. This is evident enough in the table above, which shows that the skilled craftsman, although given a lower class category than the agricultural labourer , is in turn attributed a higher one than his unskilled partner in the factory. Also in the female classification, the woman was given a higher status if the wife of a shopkeeper rather than being a shopkeeper herself, or working in the factory. It is interesting to note here, how the women in the factory were not just unskilled labourers; in fact there were fewer unskilled female labourers in the factory than males. By comparison it is observed that the females made a higher number of skilled labourers than the males, the males in fact were largely employed as unskilled labourers.
As the above information shows, Portlaw had a large spectrum of workers to cater for, all requiring basic facilities such as housing. Also as shown, many were not factory employees. Therefore, a large number of people served to profit from Portlaw as a prosperous town in the nineteenth century. The graphs at the end of this chapter - based-on data taken from Criffiths Valuation - give some insights into the social stratification and tenement ownership of the time. Richard Griffith was the Commissioner of Valuation in 1838, and he created a system for building an agricultural valuation assessment. This assessment was based on "an' estimate of the intrinsic or absolute value modified by the circumstances which govern house lettings" (Griffith 1853). In determining the valuation of the building many factors were taken into account, such as age, state of repair etc. This entire aside, the most important thing to realise about the valuation is that the immediate lessor may have been himself leasing the land from another landholder, and in turn subletting it. The streets taken into account in the graphs are as follows: Bridge Street, Queen Street, Brown Street, Ivy Walk, English Row, Green Island, Market Square, Main Street, Curtis Street, Thomas Street, Mulgrave Street and Shamrock Street. The total number of houses being 425.
Graph No (1) shows the percentage leased by the Malcolmsons, Richard Curtis, Medlycotts and others. As the graph shows, the Malcolmsons were leasing 57% of the housing in 1852. This 57% was approximately 243 houses in total. Graph No (2) gives the percentage of houses in each valuation category. As is obvious the largest valuation class is the £1 - £2 and £2 - £3 category. This information proves more beneficial when compared to graph No (3) In graph No (3) the overall percentage valuation class is contrasted to the overall percentage leased by the Malcolmsons. Also this category of £1 - £2 and £2 - £3, was attributed as 3rd class in the class categories attributed by the author. Criffiths Valuation was in 1852, by 1901, some of the streets had disappeared, others were to be renamed. The data below enables the reader to see how the Malcolmsons came to be lessors of property in 1901, which they were not lessors of in 1852, and also class category is outlined. The 1901 class categories being derived from census material and the 1852 from the authors categories as outlined in Methodology.
Table 6 Number of Houses leased by Malcolmsons, and their Class Categories for the years 1852 and 1901
Note: William St. = Shamrock St.
George St. = New Musgrave St
Source: Griffiths Valuation and 1901 Census
General information from the 1841 Census tells how 313 out of 458 houses were 3rd class. Also the majority of houses in 1901 are 3rd class houses, however a 3rd class house had walls made of stone or brick or concrete. They also had roofs of wood or thatch and the majority had two, three or four rooms. The general standard of the housing aside, it must be acknowledged that although the Malcolmsons were building and supplying these houses for their workforce, they were also profiting in a big way, as they obviously were receiving rents from over a hundred plus houses each week. The Malcolmson houses, however, were quite comfortable. if practicality was implemented in the layout of the street pattern, it also prevailed in the building of the workers houses.
The Malcolmson houses were very distinctive and they were let at a cheaper rate than other houses in the village 30% cheaper. They were of single storey design, the roof was semi-flat with a one inch by one inch of lattice timber truss, this in turn was covered by calico ~ a kind of cotton cloth -, manufactured in the factory, and then covered with tar. These types of roofs were unique to Portlaw and became known as "Portlaw roofs". These roofs were very durable and still are to be seen today, as many of the flat roofs in Brown Street, William Street and Bridge Street are "Portlaw roofs". The house itself consisted of a front and back door, and also a small yard to the back. It also contained a passage hall and initially branching from this hall, two rooms. Each room had a fireplace making the rooms very warm and cosy, as the fireplace in each house lay back to back the fireplace in the next, thus each house benefited from the heat of four fires. In summer though, the twelve-foot high ceilings afforded a sense of space and airiness.
It is only now I feel that one may understand why the, Malcolmsons are called the makers of Portlaw. They built a factory, which with hindsight is perceived as being in the nineteenth century, a hundred years ahead of its time. They also constructed a model village in which they housed their workers, and as outlined, these houses were comfortable and p r a c t 1 c al, never ostentatious. They still did, however, serve the needs of their inhabitants, and were certainly appealing to the eye in structure and shape. However, the Malcolmsons did not stop developing after building the houses, they simultaneously tried to maintain a high standard of living for their workers. As shall be outlined in the next chapter they set high standards for the workers to pursue, as well as seeing to their wellbeing, their comforts and necessities. Unquestionably they remained always benefactors of the village.
"There is an air of improvement in everything that appertains to them" (Hall 1840: pg. 310). This is Mrs Hall's verdict about the state of the people of Portlaw as a consequence of the Malcolmsons. As outlined in the previous chapter there were many people who shared the prosperity of the Malcolmsons, and this group did not include employees only. In building houses for their workers, they did not forget the basic infrastructure of an inhabited town. As well as building the houses for the workers, they also kept them in repair. They were, however, to do much more. One of the very first things the Malcolmsons did was build a school. The majority of the students were known as "half timers" - a concept in operation elsewhere at the time! These "half timers" or 19 part timers" were young girls and boy s employed by the Malcolmsons. Unless they attended school for the full number of hours required each week they did not receive their wages. Education was also offered to the adults in the village. In the central part of the school house there was a large room - 60 feet by 30 feet - this was used as a room for evening classes for adults and it was also used for discussions among the workers and employers.. Other events were also hosted here. David Malcolmson told Shiel of his school, he boasted of it saying "no sectarian animosities, no quarrels about the bible are allowed to prevail. Here all the children of the factory are instructed in reading, writing, and the elements of arithmetic, and no sort of interference with their religion is attempted" (Shiel1828: pg 358). The school flourished whilst the Malcolmsons remained in Portlaw and later on an infant school was added.
The year 1838 saw the formation of what must have been the earliest in this country - a temperance society. Its object was to promote temperance and the habit of saying. It was called the Portlaw tontine Club. At one point in time it had a membership of five hundred persons. Coinciding with this Society, there was also a Thrift Society, which was initiated to encourage the workers to save. The Malcolmsons were doing their ultimate to discard the notion of the drunken Irish man unfit to do anything but dig. At all times they tried to enforce law and order in an attempt to keep the village one of high regard. Mr Malcolmson was the local Magistrate and a district court was held each week. In the Census of 1841, only two males were listed as administering to Justice. No employee was allowed smoke in the presence of their employer and the strictest morality was prevailed, it being a rule to dismiss any girl who was guilty of the slightest impropriety,," (Shiel 1828: pg 358). Evidently the Malcolmsons were trying to impose social control on the people, without a doubt the industrialist did serve to profit from a sober workforce and a contented one.
The Malcolmsons, although keeping a vigilant eye on the behaviour of their workers, they did not overlook their need for recreation and comforts. They provided a billiards room, handball court, concert hall and set up a brass band, as well as shopping facilities. The Malcolmsons were perfectionists, this alone was exemplified in the room occupied for billiard playing. So as to allow unrestricted play,"recesses were scooped out in the corner of the room so the player would not be encumbered by hitting against the wall." In accordance with referring to the comforts they bestowed upon their employees, it must be mentioned that each female employee was given a brush and comb in order to keep herself well groomed, and upon marriage received from her employers a gift of bed linen. These may appear to be trivial matters, but they all prove as indicators of the type of life that existed in the industrial village of Portlaw in the nineteenth century. As well as trying to impose social control on the people, it also appears as if the Malcolmsons were trying to transform the village socially as well. It may be presumed that not many other villages in Ireland at the time had the same strict controls on drinking, smoking, behaviour and also even personal grooming. Seemingly the Malcolmsons were instilling into the people virtues which were not inherently Irish but perhaps more like those existing in Victorian England.
As mentioned in Chapter 5, a providence Society was inaugurated for the welfare of the workers. As early as 1837, the Malcolmsons appointed a resident surgeon to the factory - Dr James Martin. The Martin hospital, which is still in operation today, was built in his memory. They were also responsible for providing the village with fresh water and light. A large settling pond was built within the factory gates, the water of the Clodagh flowed through here and proceeded through a filter bed and accordingly was pumped to tasks on higher ground. Each street was then served by this fresh water, as pumps were strategically placed at the top of the streets.
The factory never stopped, the wheels revolved for twenty-four hours, huge lamps at night were used to light up the factory and the village. To enable this to be possible, a-.gasworks was established near the canal. Each night it is said that a gas lightman employed by the factory would go around the village lighting all the lamps. In the centre square of the village in later years. a fountain was erected in memory of an employee. This fountain was made of cast iron and it was constructed in the Mayfield Foundry. The Company also erected a town clock, and each morning it was the duty of the watchman to go out and ring this bell in order to waken the workers. Portlaw was certainly true to its name a Model Township. The Malcolmsons supplied their workers with everything from housing to education whilst not overlooking their need for recreation. As Lewis pointed out in his travels "the health, education and morals of this newly created colony have been strictly adhered to by it's patrons" (Lewis 1837: pg 466).
In saying that the Malcolmsons supplied their workers with everything, one may say that this is a slight exaggeration. However, this is not so, Portlaw under the Malcolmsons became a self sufficient community, and no reference to Portlaw is complete without mentioning the infamous "Leather Money". This "leather money" as it came to be known was in fact only cardboard. These tokens were issued to the employees in pence and halfpence. Considering the amount of workers employed by the factory, this method of payment rendered it possible and safe to pay all workers. It was only by choice that the workers received these tokens, instead of cash. The tokens, however, were not limited to Portlaw; they had a tender of twenty miles and were freely accepted in all shops in the city of Waterford. "The firm enjoyed a reputation for stability and solvency and their tokens were freely accepted as cash by t he trades people in the district and for a radius of twenty miles around" (Went 1968: pg 75). Many criticisms were made concerning these tokens as Mayfield Stores, one of the main shops in the village accepted these tokens, and this shop was owned by the Malcolmsons. However, it must be acknowledged that this shop supplied groceries and drapery at a cheaper rate than the rest of the shops in Portlaw. In 1844, an action for libel was taken against the newspapers "Warden" and "Statesman" by the Malcolmson Brothers. They attacked the factory as follows "we are: informed one factory in this country, of which the Quakers are proprietors, where no money at all passes from the tyrant to the slaves, but where small tokens of stamped leather procure goods at the shops of the tyrants, which on this trick system they impose at their own profit on their miserable slaves. This, we believe, to be entirely illegal and it certainly is wholly unconscientious" (Munster Express 1971: pg 19).
The Malcolmsons won the case. However, it is I suppose up to each individual to decide whether they believe that this was a tyrant/slave situation, or just one of the many new elements introduced by the Malcolmsons into the village. I personally believe that the very last thing they were was unconscientious. They had built Portlaw for the betterment of their workers. Admittingly any industrialist serves to profit from a happy and contented workforce, and therefore, this was presumably the reasoning behind the Malcolmsons supplying their workers with all the conditions as already listed. Although it may appear that the workers were totally under the control of the Malcolmsons - inside and outside work there were adverse situations elsewhere. Macniece says of these industrialists who cared for their workers that despite reaping the benefits of a sober and industrious workforce, many entrepreneurs were aware "of the growing pains of social awareness and many entrepreneurs were stimulated by genuine religious and social motives to improve the bit of their workers", (Macniece 1981: pg 174).
This is true of the Malcolmsons, I feel that it is only now after viewing what they achieved in Portlaw that one can appreciate their Quaker philosophy. Shiel speaks of David Malcolmson, in high tones of acclamation. He attributes great praise to the work he did in Clonmel. He says of David Malcolmson "he evidently felt that best of all luxuries, the consciousness of being the creator of felicity" (Shiel 1829 pg 359). The Lord Lieutenant of this same period, viewed the factory in Portlaw as well as the village and proceeded to call David Malcolmson a benefactor-, of Ireland. Isabel Grubb in.her book entitled Quakers in Ireland starts her book with a quote which says "by their fruits ye shall know them".. She was speaking of the Quakers. The Malcolmsons were known by their "fruits", they lived according to their Quaker philosophy.
The Quaker belief and philosophy is one of equality. They aim for simplicity and integrity, however they-are not puritannical. "We enjoy material blessings but try to resist materialistic attitudes, believing that earthy possessions are held in trust" (Quakers belief pamphlet). Many great businessmen were and are Quakers. They excelled themselves in matters of finance and industry. In the nineteenth century, the Malcolmsons were not the only exponents of sobriety and industry. Many Quakers such as W.R. Jacob of Waterford, Richardsons of Bessbrook, Goodbodys of Clara - all became industrial magnates. The same is true of England, the Cadbury Fry, Rowntree families, all were Quakers. Apart from a perceivable trend in industry matters among these families all were benefactors to certain towns and villages. If they accumulated wealth in an area, they never forgot their source of wealth. It took more than capital, intuition, land and entrepreneural skills to make an industry, it also required an indigenous population for without the workers there was no industry and subsequently no wealth to be derived. Therefore, the least these industrialists owed their workers were good working and living conditions. Just as Robert Owen a Quaker was to build a model village, the Malcolmsons were to follow him, and proceeding the Malcolmsons were the Richardsons and Cadburys. The proceeding chapters prove the Malcolmsons to be much more than entrepreneurs, they were philanthropists also. Although the virtues they did impose on the village were somewhat puritan, the village was presumably a healthier and safer place to live as a result. The Malcolmsons gave to many a place of work and a home to live in. They were entrepreneurs and very shrewd businessmen and their Quaker belief and way of life helped them accumulate their wealth. Isabel Cru-bb in referring to the good deeds done by the Quaker.families of the Maicomsons and Richardsons says of both: If perhaps, Quakers have done more successful ;work for their fellowmen as kindly landlords and founders and directors of large firms than they have done through definite organisations for philanthropy" (Grubb 1927: pg 143).
The Malcolmsons were entrepreneurs and philanthropists; the mixture of both was what brought them their merritorious success.
"The merry shuttle's song is replaced by the bough of the wind through
tenantless streets"(Power 1910: pg 61)
What caused this downfall? Many interrelated factors contributed to the failure of the cotton factory and subsequently to the demise of the village. The severest blow to the industry was the American Civil War. President Lincoln enforced a naval blockade but the Malcolmsons ran the blockade and supplied large amounts of cotton goods to the south. However, it was the losing side that they backed and when the war came to an end around 1874, the bills due to the Malcolmsons became valueless, and as a result they owed large amounts of money to the banks. The Portlaw factory was not the only one to suffer. W.O. Henderson, when speaking of the cotton famine on the Continent, mentions how Napoleon alarmed at the shortage of cotton urged his country to abolish the blockade and recognise the south.
This, however, was only one blow which befell the industry in the 1870's. Joseph Malcolmson died in 1858. This became a double tragedy as his wife withdrew her share. Subsequently Joseph's son David died at an early age, leaving only one child, and his wife began court proceedings to have her sons' share withdrawn. Also one of the banks that the Malcolmsons did business with crashed in 1866. As mentioned already water transport was an essential ingredient in the success of the Malcolmsons project and consequently the factory. With the advent of the twentieth century, the development of railway transport destroyed the profitability of the river as speed became significant. Also subsequent improved transport facilities opened up the Suir valley to competition from Britain, coinciding with this, Britain at that time, was benefiting from up to date mills and new technology. All these factors combined together led to the inevitable failure of the cotton industry in Portlaw.
The Malcolmsons did not, however, depart Portlaw as soon as their business interests failed. Just as they had built homes for their employees, they also had built many large mansions for themselves in Portlaw and they were not in a position to just leave their homes. Also they did not desert their workers. They found alternative employment for many in mills in England and Scotland and some even went to America. The factory was then reorganised into the Portlaw Spinning Company. This offered limited employment to a number of persons. However, disaster was also to strike this industry. In 1897 it failed due to the introduction of the Mackinley tariff. This tariff raised the import duty on cotton goods into America from 35% to 55%. Weaving as a result was abandoned and then nine years later in 1904 spinning was abandoned. "The last bobbin ceased to revolve in 1904" (Power 1910: pg 64)
After this, a large portion of the factory was converted into Mayfield Dairy Company. The houses on Green Island, which at this point in time were deserted, were converted into piggeries. As one writer put it
"Alas! it's sun has set, it's glory in decay gone down! It's rows of fine houses are turned to piggeries for the hogs, a thousand odd that are being fattened in the Hayfield Dairy Company" (Power 1910: pg 62). With the start of World War in 1914, this was also to close. It was the end, depression struck Portlaw, as one newspaper said in 1937, it was avoided like the very devil. Portlaw became known to many as "the lost city". Then in 1932, life came back to Portlaw; it was decided to utilise the disused factory as a tan yard. A factory was the cause of Portlaw's notoriety, it's despair and destitution and now over fifty years later a factory was to bring back prosperity in the form of Irish Tanners Limited. Once again Portlaw was to be reborn and once again it's association and landmark was industry. Just as the cotton factory failed, so did the Tannery. Today Portlaw's population is falling once more. . The factory still affords limited employment to a small number by means of the international Hide and Skin group.
Portlaw's glory has certainly gone and all that remains is a shadow of what once was a vibrant living place. Today it serves more as a commuter town to nearby Waterford city, than anything else. Portlaw is in essence an industrial village; it was built to serve the needs of an industrial populace. Settlement in the village is not centred around a church or a landlord's domain. It is orientated towards the square, which in turn leads to the gates of a disused dead factory.
How ironic and desperate Portlaw's situation is today, is evinced by the above caption alone. It was obtained from the Cork Examiner, October 22nd, 1987. It reads "Portlaw Paradise for the Elderly". The solution of Portlaw's depravity an upmarket leisure complex for wealthy retired people, situated on the forty-acre derelict site of the factory and Mayfield House: What an epithat to a once highly industrial society. Where once, the merry shuttle was heard and thousands of fingers went nimbly about their work.
Portlaw's partial fame and wealth lie buried in the nineteenth century. Today all that remains is the imposing edifice of a disused factory and a unique web of streets. A living memory to what once upon a time was a famous model industrial village in its own right, and which for too long has gone unnoticed as an important industrial village of the nineteenth century.