27/05/2010

Statute Pays Tribute To City Mill Workers

A new piece of public art - celebrating the contribution of female mill workers to Belfast's growth, prosperity and success - has been unveiled in north Belfast this morning.

The cast bronze statue, 'The Mill Worker' commissioned by Belfast City Council and created by accomplished Northern Ireland sculptor Ross Wilson, was inspired by Belfast artist William Conor's loving depiction of the 'shawlies'.

Councillor William Humphrey, Chairman of Belfast City Council's Development Committee, joined Baroness May Blood and local primary school children to officially unveil the sculpture, which is located at the corner of Cambrai Street and the Crumlin Road, where thousands of workers would have passed to and from the mills.

He commented: "The sculpture - already affectionately know as 'Millie' - is a beautiful tribute to those women from north Belfast who worked so hard in the mills, in the most appalling conditions, to provide for their families.
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"This is a representation of the highly skilled artisans who played such a hugely important part in Northern Ireland's industrial history.

"Their work in producing a world class product, Irish linen, must never be forgotten."

It is the latest artwork to be erected reflecting the heritage and history of the Crumlin Road area.

At the end of March, two stone sculptures, by local artist Jason Mulligan, were unveiled at the corners of Snugville Street and Tudor Place.

In 1896 96,000 Belfast people worked in linen, making it the biggest employer - with the mills being the centre of production across the war years and even during the Blitz in WWII.

Linen profits in Belfast enabled the establishment of other world leading industrial growth in engineering, shipbuilding, tobacco, whiskey and rope making.

Located on the corner of Cambrai Street and the Crumlin Road, 'Millie' is adjacent to Brookfield Mill, which was one of the largest mills in the world.

Three other major spinning mills - Edenderry, Flax Street and Ewarts - were located close nearby.

See: Mill Workers Recalled

(BMcC/GK)

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