The days of the sand quays

From Harry Foy's Book  'Growing up in Portadown in the Thirties and Forties'

The quays in Castle Street held a great fascination for children. First there were slips at Shillington's where lighters came to be repaired or repainted. For hours we would watch able-bodied men cranking the winch with heavy chains which pulled the lighters up the slipway. The lighters themselves, brought coal and heavy logs to Shillington's (one of them is still there today), corn for Clow's Mill and sand for building contractors. As the carts with the corn trundled up Castle Street the pigeons from nearby shop roofs flew down for an easy meal. Children used to sit on the back shaft for a ride. On an evening, children could be seen climbing over the huge piles of logs on the quayside.

The tugs which towed the lighters were where Tug men lived. They lived in a small cabin with a bed and a stove on which to cook their meals. It was wonderful to see a tug steaming up the Bann heading for Robb's towing two lighters loaded up with turf. We used to shout names at the skippers. One tug owner, I think his name was Johnny Caddell, would shout back "If I could only get ashore..." He always looked resplendent in his coat with the shining buttons and his white peaked cap.

On one occasion a tug owner couldn't get to Robb's factory before closing time and as it was likely to rain he anchored the lighter under the bridge and sailed his tug to Sand's Quay. Along came the "Crimson Daggers". The swim rope was lowered onto the deck and some of the gang climbed down. Others sat on the knots in the rope. Soon the turf sods were being passed hand over hand to gang members waiting on the bank. That night, people in the surrounding streets were able to buy turf at 3d a bag.
Market Day in Portadown.

Street gangs and fogging orchards.

The wee shops.

Colourful vendors.

The Canon's trip.

The Butterfly.

Greenaway's ghost.

Summer on the Bann.

The Great Lemonade Robbery.

My first day at school.

The packman.

Even the dog understood the language.


Our House.

A long throw since skittles game was born.

The Gas Man Cometh.

In tune with the band.

Clubs and tickmen.

Donald Campbell Had nothing on us.

The Obinsville Cowboys.

Singing in the streets.

Such good sports.

The magic of Christmas.

Bombs - not sandwiches.

Skipping, football and cigarette cards.

Escape to the movies.

My first taste of plays.

Smuggling knew no borders.

The tale of the pigs.

Three brass balls.

Thanks for the memories.

First class show!.

Who could forget Mary Ann!.

Health remedies.

Fondly Remembered.

Going To The Dogs.


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