The Market House
The museum is located in the old Market House. Here, under the red sandstone arches, linen cloth was sold. Dating from the mid-17th century, the Market House was the only building in Market Square to survive the great fire of Lisburn in 1707.
In the 1700s a first floor was added to the Market House. The clock tower was constructed in 1808, and the 19th-century facade was completed in 1889 by Sir Richard Wallace, local landlord and the renowned art patron.
Collections and Research
The museum collects material relating to Lisburn and the Lagan Valley, as well as the Irish Linen Industry.
As well as holding the reference library for the Linen Industry Research Association, or LIRA, the museum's own library contains a range of resources, including books relating to Irish Linen, Lisburn, art, art history, Irish history and textiles, as well as local newspapers, journals, microfilms, photographs and audio-visual material.
From the museum it is only a short walk to Castle Gardens. This is the site of Lisburn Castle, the Conway family's 17th-century manor house. The original castle is no longer standing, but part of the walls and the impressive 17th-century terrace, including the gazebo and bakery, remain.
The gardens also contain a monument to Sir Richard Wallace, local MP, landowner and successor to the Conway’s, whose collection of art and that of his father’s, the 4th Marquess of Hertford, largely makes up the world-famous Wallace Collection.
Castle Gardens is home to one of the town's cast-iron Wallace Fountains. These distinctive green drinking fountains can be found all over the world, and were originally gifted to the people of Paris by Sir Richard Wallace, following the Franco-Prussian War in 1871.
Castle House, a late 19th-century mansion built by Sir Richard Wallace, is directly opposite the entrance to the gardens.
The museum provides regular guided tours of Castle Gardens.
Lisburn's Industrial Past on the Lagan
Castle Gardens affords a panoramic view of much of Lisburn and the wider Lagan Valley, and it is possible to pick out remnants of the region’s industrial past. Just east of the Gardens, for example, lies the former site of the Vitriol chemical works (c.1760-c.1840) and later the Island Spinning Company Ltd (1867-1983), responsible for flax spinning and thread making. The island, bounded by the River Lagan in the north and the canal in the south, is now occupied by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council , but the lock, through which over 180, 000 tons of linen, coal and dry goods travelled every year, remains.
Barbour's Hilden Mill
A short trip down the Lagan is the site of the Hilden mill complex, at one stage the world’s largest linen thread mill. Owned and operated by the Barbour family, in some form, from 1824 to the 1960s, the complex is a patchwork of workshops for spinning and the production of linen thread.
The Barbour family, in the tradition of many nineteenth-century industrialists, built a model village, consisting of housing, a school and a community hall, to support their workforce.