Norman Irwin knows more than most about the passing of time.
The 99-year-old will celebrate his 100th birthday later this year, and his life experiences provide a fascinating insight into the history of days-gone-by.
This week, Norman enjoyed a visit to Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s civic headquarters where he took great pride in showcasing his engineering past to the Mayor, Councillor Joan Baird OBE.
Norman brought with him a clock which was purchased in the 1940s as an early time check system for the hundreds of workers employed at Benger’s in Coleraine. It eventually changed hands to Pickering’s Foods, a subsidiary of Heinz, where Norman spent his working life until his retirement. The clock was used at the site until the mid 1970’s when it was replaced by an electric alternative.
Speaking afterwards, the Mayor said: “I would like to thank Norman for bringing this historic piece of equipment to my attention. It is a tangible link to Coleraine’s industrial past and clearly it was a highly skilled piece of equipment in its day. Items like this help to bring our history alive, especially in this age of digital technology.”
The clock is now set to on display in Garvagh Museum where members of the public will have the opportunity to view it for themselves.
Norman was employed at Pickering’s as the factory’s Engineering Manager, where he was responsible for ensuring that the clocks were always accurate and on time. He also installed some of the most advanced equipment in the milk processing sector and was highly regarded within Heinz for his sector knowledge and engineering expertise.
Prior to the break out of World War Two, Norman served an engineering apprenticeship in Moore’s Foundry in Coleraine. He joined the Coleraine Battery and after being posted to Aberdeen for a year he went on to serve in the Middle East as part of the Royal Engineers. After surviving the war, he returned to Coleraine where he began his new working life on the factory site at Millburn Road (now Kerry Foods).
With a keen interest in history, Norman hopes that by bringing the clock to the attention of the public, it will inspire others with objects of local interest to take action before the items and the stories behind them are lost forever.
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