Celebrating industrial heritage in Mid and East Antrim

Monday 20 May 2024

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is gearing up to celebrate the Borough’s fascinating industrial heritage this June.

Sun Laundry - now Rea’s of Larne - which opened on Bank Road in Larne in 1894 and closed in 1982.

From 3-9 June, Council will run an engaging series of special heritage and industrial themed events including talks, tours – including a Charles Lanyon bus tour - and demonstrations to mark this year’s Mid and East Antrim Industrial Heritage Week.

The 2024 programme will include a walking tour of Glenarm on Friday 7 June leaving at 7pm from the Eglinton Yard at Glenarm Marina.  The guided walk will explore the history and significance of limestone in this picturesque setting. For further information please contact Glenarm Visitor Centre on T: 028 2884 1087.

There will also be a ‘Building Legacies’ bus tour on Friday 7 June featuring several buildings across Mid and East Antrim associated with 19th century civil engineer and architect, Charles Lanyon. The tour will leave Carrickfergus Castle car park at 10am. The tour will take in Sheil’s Almshouses Carrickfergus, St John’s Church of Ireland in Glynn, Larne Market Yard and Kintullagh House (St Louis Grammar School) in Ballymena. This full day experience will be led by Mid and East Antrim Museum Service staff with a lunch break at the Market Yard, Larne. Tickets cost £12 per person and booking is essential at The Braid's Ticketsolve website.

For further information e:

‘The Presence of Absence’ photographic exhibition at Carrickfergus Museum will open to coincide with Industrial Heritage Week. Supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, artist Trevor Ferris will shine a light on past ship building, maritime history and life in the docks. 

The show includes recently discovered negatives and prints as well as hundreds of photographs taken over many decades. It comprises images of Harland and Wolff’s design drawing offices where the intricate details of the magnificent White Star Line’s Olympic Ocean class ships were once prepared. Some were taken by Trevor Ferris’s grandfather, who photographed the world-famous Titanic and Olympic liners and the rest are by the artist - creating a snap shot in time around Belfast Lough.  The exhibition will run from 7 June until 31 August.

On Saturday 8 June, Mary Watson will give an illustrated talk entitled Frances Anne Vane Tempest, Marchioness of Londonderry, 19th Century Entrepreneur, Industrialist and Influencer at The Heritage Hub at Carnlough Town Hall at 7pm. The talk is free to attend but booking is recommended by contacting Mary Watson at E: or call T: 07719 357 404.

Also, on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June, Irish Iron Heritage Foundation in partnership with Tenth Glen Heritage Farms are hosting the Glenravel International Furnace Festival. The weekend event will include experimental archaeology, iron age smelting and provide opportunities to learn new metal working skills. The festival co-insides with the 200th anniversary of the establishment of Newtowncrommelin by Huguenot, Nicholas Crommelin and his iron smelting furnace in the village. For more information visit the Furnace Festival website.

In addition, there will be a special display of artefacts in ‘The Sun Shines On’ display at Larne Museum and Arts Centre from Saturday 8 - Friday 28 June.  The display features artefacts, photographs and accounts showcasing the Sun Laundry - now Rea’s of Larne - which opened on Bank Road in Larne in 1894 and closed in 1982. 

In The Braid, Ballymena, there will be a display of recent donations relating to the Raphael family - linen merchants and factory owners in the town in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

As in previous years, Whitehead Railway Museum will be contributing to Industrial Heritage Week with their release of a video on social media showcasing a behind the scenes insight into the Railway Society of Ireland’s dedicated work to preserve train engines, carriages and rolling stock from past years.