Sand and Gravel in Mourne

In the early 1900s farmers began making more use out their land by extracting sand and gravel for their own use and to sell to the public. This was hard, laborious work, with most being done manually. In the late 40s machinery was first used. Loading shovels were becoming more common and the manual loading of lorries became a thing of the past.


In 1941 James Gordon opened his sandpit to supply sand for the construction of runways and hard stands at Bishops Court Aerodrome. Mr Gordon received 4 old pence per ton later increasing to 1 shilling. Around 1500 tons were delivered per week.


Sandpits were a common sight in the area, from Dunavil to Leestone, the whole way up to Atticall. The main sandpits in the area could be found at Leestone and Cranfield. These men and their companies transported sand and gravel all over Northern Ireland. Many of the sandpits that were operational during the 60s are still in business today.

Aircraft Manufacturing

B/E Aerospace

B/E Aerospace is the world’s leading manufacturer of aircraft cabin interior products. They design, develop and manufacture a broad range of products for both commercial aircraft and business jets.

The company was founded in 1987 and has evolved into an industry leader with over 10,000 employees and more than 35 major facilities around the world.


B/E Aerospace’s Northern Ireland plant is located in Kilkeel. It is their largest UK hub employing over 800 people, manufacturing products for Boeing and Airbus. Today, B/E Aerospace Kilkeel is ranked among the largest and most successful companies in Northern Ireland.

Modern Stone and Granite Working

S McConnell and Sons

Stone and granite working has changed a great deal since the 1800s when everything was done by hand. Nowadays state of the art technology like CNC technology is used, combined with highly skilled stone masons and carvers.


Loading the Robinson’s lorry with granite in the 1960s, Annalong.

Kilkeel company S McConnell & Sons are one of Northern Irelands best known stone specialists, working with stone for over forty years.


Their impressive portfolio includes the Princess Diana memorial for Hyde Park along with the Armed Forces Memorial. The demanding design required 16,000 names to be cut into the walls of curved and straight limestone. The final dedication service took place in October 2007 and was attended by the Queen.


Their latest project have included the refurbishment of the Connaught Hotel in London along with the Bomber Command Memorial.



Launch of the Steadfast

After 14 years of construction and toil, the Steadfast, a 180-tonne boat was finally lowered into the waters of Klikeel in November 2014. Local marine engineers Raymond and Samuel Patterson built the Steadfast for their eldest brother, skipper Kenneth.

Initially the brothers had travelled to Scotland to buy a large vessel, but couldn’t find one to satisfy them, so they built this 18.75metre vessel from scratch in their free time.


The brothers then put together every single piece of the boat – assembling the bare steel plates, welding it, putting in the machinery, the hydraulic pipes, and the accommodation space.

Crowds lined the harbour to watch the boat being lowered into the water on 25th November, cheering as the boat settled into the water

Restoring Hanna’s Close

In 1996 work began to restore Hanna’s Close which was nestled in the Mourne countryside. It is a ‘clachan’ consisting of seven charming cottages beside the Kilkeel River.


This cluster of cottages were built in the 1600s by the Hanna’s who came to Ireland from Scotland around 1640. The dwellings were all built close together with only one door facing into the close and a few small windows at the back. This was to protect them from attacks. The Close is situated in the townland of Aughnahoory and in 1860 there were eight families of Hanna’s living in the Close.

The cottage were carefully restored and cared for, making them the perfect spot to visit to get a taste of the olden days and olden ways in Mourne. They now have all the rustic charm and character of the past yet still have all the modern amenities required such as central heating, open fires, electric cookers and washing machines.