PLATE 8
The Brown Linen Market at Banbridgein the County of Downe, the Weavers holdingup their Pieces of Linen to View , the Bleachers elevated on Forms examining its Quality
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The weavers brought their webs to the weekly `brown linen' markets where dealers known as linen drapers purchased them for bleaching and finishing. In the street these drapers agreed a price with individual weavers and later under cover measured the webs and paid for them. Although webs were checked for quality before sale and then stamped by seal-masters appointed by the Linen Board, there were continual complaints about dishonest practices.

Banbridge was one of the new towns that had arisen on the prosperity of the linen industry. At the beginning of the century it had been no more than a cluster of houses around a wooden bridge over the River Bann. A stone bridge was built in 1712 to carry the main road from Dublin to Belfast. The settlement grew rapidly in importance because of the bleach-greens in the district. Under a patent of 1726 Solomon White secured for the village of Ballyvally a weekly market and four three day fairs each year. These linen fairs attracted merchants even from England to buy bleached linens. In 1750 the settlement was acquired by the Hill family of Hillsborough (later the Downshires) who laid it out in its present pattern and built the market-house. In 1766 a new patent for Banbridge took over the rights of the Ballyvally market and fairs.Brown linen markets declined during the first half of the nineteenth century with the putting out of fine yarns to the weavers from the spinning mills.

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