Machine room Strowager


Note the raw material bar entering from the top right and the stamped piece parts towards the bottom left.IMG_20170312_0011

Output from a metal stamping machine, into a tote box, for moving to the next stage of drilling


Stamp head of a machine tool.


A close up of the contact on the end of the spring. The coils would activate the spring through an electromagnetic force caused by powering up the coils, thus making a phone connection.


Stages of manufacture of relay yoke


High speed relay design. Note the two coils.



The sequence of springs and insulators which are built together to create a spring assembly.




David Bellamy

David Bellamy, author, broadcaster, environment campaigner, botanist, and honoured visitor …. on the opening of the Wild Life Refuge, or Nature Park on the Nortel site.



David Bellamy arrived to open the wild life refuge at the back of the M4 plant. Here he is seen with Brian Wilson and some of the School children who worked on the creation of the refuge.
The wildlife refuge was a Monkstown Community school project run by 15/16 year olds including Pamela Wilson. Pamela is Ken Wilson’s daughter and Ken ran the print room and was the custodian of these photographs before me.
Ken and I supported teams from the same football city but had an active competition for many years on who would place higher in the league….. I did win more than lost…..but somehow i still always felt I had lost.


In 1998 Nortel won the ‘Environmental Excellence Award for Business’.

From the Nortel press release.

In presenting the prestigious award to Nortel Networks Bert McMaw, (Senior Manager Site Services, Jimmy McIlwain, (Chairman of NI2000’s Project Committee) said “In 1998 NI2000 extended the scope of its Environmental Excellence Awards to include businesses which have demonstrated excellence in their commitment to imptoving or protecting the environment, by involving employees and local community schools and organisations in schemes such as Nortel Park”

“The park development groups under the direction of Nortel Network’s Wilsey Kernohan, (Environmental, Health and Safety Manager) are to be congratulated in the large range of diverse fauna and flora to be found in the small 2 acre site.”

“The Park is truly unique among the many entrants we have so far examined in that it is the natural home of a rare wild orchid”

Before 1962


Now, I always believed the story of Monkstown began in 1962, in some ways I was right but in a very interesting way I proved myself wrong. It was a visit to the new PRONI (Public Record Office Northern Ireland) on the week it opened that added a fascinating insight to the start of the story…
I am going to take a brief step back in time, into the previous decade…. A prequel, if you like.


In the PRONI there are a number of very interesting documents which containing the working files from the Department of Commerce. Interestingly I found these on the opening day of the new PRONI premises in the Titanic quarter, which is another story.
COM/63/1/127-129 provides an insight into the early discussions with Standard Telephones and Cables about a factory initiation in 1951

In 1951 initial discussions were about Castlereagh or Laurelvale including an opportunity for 100-250 jobs.
There was comparison between Scotland or Northern Ireland for this new opportunity but even in those days the cost of rented sites in East Kilbride (at 5s 0d per sq. ft.) was seen as extremely high compared to Northern Ireland.

By 1953, after many meetings the opportunity moved on to Londonderry and a proposed factory for the manufacture of underwater cable with a potential for employment of 1,500. This opportunity also did not come to fruition.


The discussion centred around whether a suitable jetty could be built and the Foyle dredged enough to enable STC to have their ships dock and be loaded. This was Submarine Cables Division in the era of the transatlantic cables.

This the the Monarch used by STC to lay the transatlantic cable.



Ref: STC Gazette

Much more about Prof. Danny McCaughan later ……

This post is focused on the efforts of the Charity committee and the award of MBE to Rose Canning. The article above from the Gazette in 1993.IMG_20170312_0134

The iconic wall of the Oasis Restaurant was the backdrop to many charity tombolasimg219

Pat Hubbard selecting the winner.img221

Bertie McMaw selecting the next winner

Graduate recruitment

This publication was created to support the annual ‘Milk Round’ where businesses would visit the local universities looking for the next crop of graduates. Some of us recent graduates, would also be involved as living examples of all the good things and opportunities that were awaiting graduates in STC.

I could have fun with that sentence and reflect on being sent to the tool room for “a long weight (or wait)” or the reaction I got when I asked for a small fitting to be formed out of 1/6″ Aluminium sheet.  But I wont digress.


I think with one exception I worked for each of these guys at one stage and have had some great learning experiences from each of them.

One taught me exactly the right time to fling a phone across a desk for maximum effect.

Another taught me the complete alphabet of factory suitable words, which were definitely not suitable at home, oh and how it was a career advancement to control the snow ploughs.

Another taught me sound design and how to keep in a budget and yet another taught me how to reside safely in Enniskillen.

Another two taught me all about doing projects, coaching me into project leadership either by choice or because they really needed helped.

Two were involved in my wedding send off, although where a nighty and a trolley were involved in that is far back in my memory, and therapy sessions.

One taught me the benefit of saying the wrong thing at the right time. Sometimes hilarious, like when he told us his daughter was ‘hijacking’ all around Europe. A classic technique to get a team relaxed and working.

And one taught me that tea break time was an opportunity to stretch our minds with all sorts of conundrums, inventions and mind-bending puzzles.

Jim I never worked for but I spend 6 weeks in Colchester working with his son Malvin.




Steve Large receiving a spot award from Brian Wilson for his efforts in arranging a abseil down the front of the Europa Hotel with a collection for  Leukemia Research. This involved 21 staff from the Information Technology department on a windy day.IMG_20170312_0115


Adrian Murphy paused on the decent, I would not have paused!!
One of my sons was about 8 at the time and was given a role of collecting with Pat Masterson (HR Director) in front of the Europa on the pavement at the world famous Crown Bar. Mathew was keen to do this but misheard the charity we were collecting for, so began asking passers-by for contributions to Lobelia research (as if we don’t have enough colours of lobelias already).



Belfast folks being the way they are were happy to throw money in the buckets carried by Mathew and Pat.

NITEC Building Award


Before: The old entrance and small office building at the front of M4 being demolished. This had initially been the Spalding plant and for a long time that name was still deep in the STC conversation. “I’m heading up to Spaldings” was a phrase which left me totally confused in my first week at work.  But then again the “Raceview loading bay” in the M3 plant was still talked about 20 years after the Raceview site in Enniskillen had closed.


During: The new shape of Nitec starting to unfold. This was a significant building effort not seen on the site for one, maybe two, decades before. The building would not be any use if we didn’t get Broadband into it, and this was one of our first experiences of being a Customer to one of the early cable companies who were becoming our new Customers.  Not a straight forward experience. I think the lead time for the cable was longer than the building.

(I don’t remember it being called Broadband in those days…. Ethernet has a ring to it)

img1170"From the top of Carnmoney hill"

After: The NITEC building won the W & G Baird Business Environmental Endeavour (BEE) award. This scheme is aimed at encouraging excellence in the design of the working environment.

Pictured here with NITEC’s director, Dr Danny McCaughan, are mechanical design engineers Gillian McColgan and Irwin Potts



The assessor gave the site high marks for being “well integrated into the suburban environment” Des Cave the Project Manager received the award from Richard Needham, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, at a lunch at Shane’s Castle


NT sign

So…… it seemed like a good idea at the time, all we have to do is get a group of good people, convince Stanley to go up on the roof and there we have it.

How better to celebrate Monkstown joining NT … Northern Telecom … or Nortel as it was continued to be re-branded over the years.  Arranging people as an ‘NT’ was easier that the full word ‘Northern Telecom’.

Ok there was a better way, we should just get a Canadian flag, what could go wrong.


Terry Fulton

Terry Fulton

Terry Fulton, Personnel Manager retires after 27 years with STC and 20 years as Personnel Manager.  1990

From left to right
Billy Gillam, Norman Moody, Sean Curran, Sandra Fulton, Jim Shaw, Jim Cobain
Terry Fulton, Bert McBroom, Alan Cousins, Eva Hegan, Larry Davidson
Ronnie Andrews, Andy Kerr, Jim Carvill, Sam Davison, Rene Magee
Elvlyn Watkins, Eileen Johnston, Pat Masterson, Bobby McIntyre, Dan Deery
Bertie McMaw, Bobby King, Craig Blair

Monkstown : Requiem for a village

51UmRxkW6RL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ I found this very interesting book (Ref Roddie Andrews) in the Linen Hall Library.  It is a very personal look back at life in the village of Monkstown before and after the ‘American factories’ arrived in 1962.

The building of the Monkstown Industrial Estate was in the large meadow, owned by Nursery Owner Robert Kirkpatrick in the town land of Cloughfern.

It is a environmental change that I have read in a number of places but, in this book, the author Roddie Andrews comments on how the new factories “required lots of women with small hands” for the intricate work and how the women of the families in some cases “gained their independence” within the family due to the good wages paid.

Roddie Andrews mentions that the progress forced on the local area with employment contracts which required that employees “must work overtime as and when required” added huge strains to family life. “Another dehumanisation” was the introduction of Time and Motion on the work practices and incentive payments.

In my own memories even I can contrast the peaceful Boy Scout walks through the area when I was young to the queues of cars coming up the Doagh Road and trying to turn right onto the site across the daily commuter traffic jams. Living locally I always felt that the factories sat well within the community with a well understood co-dependence.

I guess STC and Spaldings were just two more causes for an influx of new people into the area following in the history of the Mill, Print Works and the garrison families from Carrickfergus.

As Roddie Andrews says the “1964 devastating news of the Housing Trust’s vesting orders” in preparation for the building of the Monkstown Estate was really the end of the Village structure.

With a population now over 85,000 in the wider Newtownabbey area, we can only look back with fond memories of the old Monkstown area where everyone knew everyone … .. and their mother.

Ref: Roddie Andrews:  Requiem for a village