The tale of the pigs...
From Harry Foy's Book 'Growing up in Portadown in the Thirties and Forties'
The Tunnel area of Portadown was once a hive of industry. In the early days, the Parkside Weaving Company employed hundreds of workers. As a young boy I got sixpence from each of my aunts for cleaning their looms. These had to be cleaned at the end of the week which was eleven o'clock on Saturday morning. My father worked at night in the factory doing repairs so I went with him to clean the looms and this allowed my aunts to get away early on Saturday morning.
When the factory closed part of it was taken over by Powell's Jam Factory. This continued to give the locals employment and it later became Goldenlea.
Denny's was, and is, another big employer. Many can recall the pigs which were driven through the area daily and the stench they brought with them. Do you remember Jack McAtamney and his famous mallet which was used to kill the pigs? When Denny's installed a new conveyor belt with an electric stunner at the end, the Directors came to see it in operation. The pig drover had some difficulty getting the pigs onto the conveyor but he assured the Directors, "Sir, it will be alright once the pigs get used to it".
Grew's had a grass seed cleaning plant in Curran Street, in the old whisky bonding store, and an apple packing factory in Parkside. When Grews started a canning factory 1946 it was a great boon to the housewives of the area. The firm employed over 200 workers in canning and preparation of fruit. Women with families could work part-time in the apple peeling centres. Fruit pulping was also carried out and Parkside grounds were filled with hundreds of barrels of pulp waiting to be dispatched to English jam and sauce factories.
Another big employer was McDonagh's Furniture Factory who, at the time, had over seventy employees. Goldenlea moved to new premises and others closed down so Denny's and McDonagh's remain as the only industries of this former era but the memories of a stampede of workers pouring into Obins Street at six o'clock every evening will always remain.
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