The fascinating history of Hilden war memorial and local playground

Following Remembrance Sunday approaches, you may have noticed that the War Memorial at Hilden has recently been fully restored.

Hilden War Memorial wIth Mayor Alderman Stephen Martin and representaives of the Royal British Legion in Lisburn, including Chairman Brian Sloan

But what do we know about its history and whose initials are to be found on a nearby stone in the Children’s Playground?

The Hilden War Memorial is located on a traffic island bounded by Grand Street and Mill Street.

The land for the memorial, in the form of an obelisk, was given to commemorate men from the Hilden, Glenmore and Lambeg area who died in the slaughter of the First World War (1914-18).

Hilden War Memorial

It was gifted to the people of the area by the Richardson family, who owned three linen production plants in the area: The Island Spinning Co; Millbrook Bleachworks (now housing) and The Glenmore Bleachworks (also now housing) one of the largest of its type in the world.

The Richardsons lived at Glenmore House (now apartments) and Aberdelgy (now a Golf Course) at Lambeg.

But it was to another leading employer in the area, that the unveiling ceremony was entrusted - that of the Barbour family of Hilden Mill.

The War Memorial was officially unveiled on the morning of Saturday October 29, 1921 by Mrs Anna E Barbour, OBE, the American born wife of Harold Barbour.

R H S Richardson

They lived at Strathearne, Dunmurry, which is now Hunterhouse College. They were in fact first cousins, her father having been born at The Fort, now Fort Hill College, before moving to America.

The memorial commemorated the lives of 117 men from the local area who lost their lives in the Great War, aged from just 17 years to 48 years old - 55 of whom have no known place of burial.

Just a few yards from the War Memorial, there is a beautiful children’s park with an interesting stone inscribed E M B Memorial Park ... but who was E M B?

Elise Milne Barbour was the wife of Sir J Milne Barbour of Conway House, Dunmurry (latterly a hotel), the Chairman of Hilden Mill.

The Island Spinning Co

Sadly, Elsie Barbour died during the birth of her third child, Elizabeth, in 1910 at the age of only 37 years old. 

In her memory, Sir Milne Barbour gave the land for the playground for local children and also built the EMB Memorial Hall, which stood opposite the War Memorial until 2000.

The Barbour’s only son, John Milne 
Barbour, also died young in an air crash whilst flying a private plane from a Barbour plant in Scotland to Conway in 1937 at the age of 30.

So, that is the story behind two of Hilden’s memorials to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country and the tragedy of the owning family of one of the largest linen thread factories in the world.

The Glenmore Bleachworks

“Lest we Forget”

Glenmore House
Mrs Anna E Barbour, OBE
Strathearne, Dunmurry
An interesting stone inscribed E M B Memorial Park
Elise Milne Barbour
Sir Milne Barbour