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Hilden Primary School and The Wee Man

Memories of a time when Headmasters used the cane to enforce discipline, but are we about to lose this building forever?

Hilden Primary School

This article celebrating the memories of past pupils and teachers of Hilden Primary School, near Lisburn, took on a more poignant message with the announcement that the school is under threat of closure. (May '06)


Article contributed by: Pat Mackell
Hilden Primary School and The Wee Man

I lived in the village of Hilden between 1950 and 1965. My father John Mackell was a foreman in No. 4 Twisting Room at the Barbour Threads factory. The school had originally been set up to educate the children of workers. The school was also non-denominational with both Catholic and Protestant pupils.

The head teacher was a Mr Alexander Woodend, a much respected and feared man by pupils, parents and staff. A man of huge intellect, energy and presence. He dominated any room he entered. Naturally therefore his nickname was simply "the Wee Man." He was a fierce disciplinarian and carried a concealed thin bamboo cane down the inside of his left trouser leg. At the first sign of any percieved wrong doing, whoosh in a blur of Musketee movement the deadly weapon was in his hand ready to dole out punishment.

Once I was sent to his office by another teacher for laughing in class during "Sing along with the BBC". He lectured me for several minutes as I stood trembling in front of him. Eventually the dreaded cane was produced and he told me to hold out my hand: whoosh, thwack he hit his leather desk six times while I stood in amazement. "Now boy," he said, "go out of this office and hold your hand as if you are in pain. Do not tell anybody else that I let you off or you will get six of the best for real. " As I walked out, several dry lipped boys waited their turn.

My mother Bridgid Mackell was the cleaner for the school which now has a team of contract workers to do the job she did single-handed. After school when I stayed behind to help her mop the long red tiled hall I was rewarded by being allowed free reign to explore the school. One of my favourite spots was the coke shute into the boiler house: lift the steel manhole cover and there was a ready made slide into the dark coke pile.

The school also had a great reputation in that it had a 100% success rate in students passing the eleven plus. However it should be added that "The Wee Man" only allowed the brightest and best pupils to sit the exam. After the 11 plus the selected few went to their choosen grammar school. The rest were split into two sub groups: the Protestant pupils went on to the state comprehensive and the Catholic pupils stayed at Hilden marking time until they went briefly to the Lisburn Technical College at 15 (there was no Catholic secondary school at that time). Between 12 and 15 the "last class" was shared by different age groups oldest at the back, youngest to the front.

After The Wee man retired I met him once in Lisburn. I was by that time an officer in the Merchant Navy. He remembered me and said he always knew I would end up in a boiler room given my training on the coke shute. He told me he was doing some lecturing to the officers at Army Headquarters. He winked at me and said he liked to have them trembling in their seats ... "unfortunately," he added whistfully, "I'm not allowed to use the cane."



Donald Watters - Mar '07
Hallo Jackie,
nice to hear from you, Sorry I can,t help you with the Lambeg people you want to trace but maybe some of the other forum readers can help. I only remember Freddie Dixon faintly, he was a class or two higher .His sister Margaret was in my class, she married another classmate Eddie Hughes whose Gran lived in Bridge St. You also mentioned Sunnymede, a girl from there was also in our class, Rita Shaw. I wonder what became of her. She sat in front of me beside Lily Nurse and left around 1955 to go to Grammer school. . I suppose she is also a Grandparent now. I still think of all the classmates I remember as young boys and girls and sometimes when I return to Lisburn play the guessing game, looking at people around my age ( 63 ) and trying to place them by thinking of their mothers and fathers

Pat Mackell - Mar '07
Hello Marbeth. Nice to hear from you. I hope your mother and family are all keeping well. Hilden seems a long way back in time now; but it was a brilliant little village to grow up in. We had great times there. My own children have been raised on the yarns I recountfrom my youth. No health and safety worries in those days...Shalom, Pat

Jackie Wood - Mar '07
Donald, I read with interest your message but I was amazed to see reference to the accident with Freddie Dixon. My brother Bobby was with Freddie that day it was Bobby's kite. da brought it back form the war. The accident happened on a Sunday I remember it like yesterday, it was the early fifties, my ma had commited the awful sin of putting washing on the line on a Sunday yes a Sunday. Poor soul she always blamed herself, the accident was retribution for putting her washing out on a Sunday.
In those days we lived at Sunnymede then we came to Lambeg ,Carisbrook Gardens I would love to contact names form those days (I now live in England) some of the names John Morrison poor John died after swimming in the Lagan. Tommy Robinson drowned in the Lagan. I have made contact with and met his brother Davy Robinson in Torornto. Other names Raymong Gardner, John Curry or Corry, Billy Bradley Drek Humphries, Tony Stanney, the Morrow brothers Trevor and Merrill, Harold Stewert. I know these where all Lambeg people but people from Hilden my remember them please do put me in touch if you can.
Jackie Wood

Marbeth Shields (nee Fletcher) - Feb '07
HI PAT It was great to read your article about Hilden it brougt back a lot of fond memories regards to yourself and your MUM Marbeth Shields nee FLETCHER Jan 07

Angela Mousley - Feb '07
My name is Angela Mousley (I attended Hilden Primary School between 1981 and 1988 under the direction of Mr Guest). I am delighted to hear that the School will remain open as are my sister, Louise and brother, Michael. My mother's family (McPolin) all attended the School and have very fond memories of their schooldays. Congratulations to Hilden!

Thomas McCabe - Feb '07
Hi. My name is Tom McCabe. I was wondering if Adrienne Carson nee Kennedy is my cousin. I lived on Strathearn Place and my Father's sister married a Jimmy Kennedy and he had a daughter Adrienne.
If so Hi Adrienne

Tom McCabe - Dec '06
I did not go to Hilden - I went to Wm Foote, but had many friends at Hilden. The response which caught my attention was from Adrienne - nee Kennedy. I wonder if this is the daughter of Jimmy Kennedy who married a McCabe and would be my cousin. She lived on Delacherois Avenue - old Hilden Avenue.

Aidan Doran - Nov '06
so many names from the past.thanks to pat for getting the ball rolling with his" wee man" article and most of the posters i can remember. keep up the good work.

Donald Watters - Dec '06
Hallo all!
Pity that all the interest in " our wee school " has dried up. Funny but it takes a crisis to get the people to join forces.I hope that someone will maybe propose and organise a reunion to celebrate the school,s rescue and it,s 95 anniversity, ( two reasons to celebrate ). None of us are getting any younger and like I wrote earlier, the mill probably won,t be with us much longer. Myself living abroad think often about our " Alma Mater". It would be nice to meet old friends and fellow pupils and play the guessing game " Who is that "

Alan Boal (Kenneth Poots) - Nov '06
I am looking for information about my birth mother Martha Jane Poots and my grandparents Adam & Margaret Poots.

They lived in Mill Street, Hilden and worked in the mill. If anyone has information please email me at hooky100 @

Moya Seaton - Oct '06
Hi Pat,

Great to hear from you. Yes the 'Tech' and of course Hilden P S did the trick. I work for BT.
I will give your regards to Marbeth and family. It was acturally Marbeth that alerted me to this web page via your Mum. We still visit each other regularly I was at hers last night (09 Oct).

Well Pat take care.

Moya Seaton - Sep '06
Hi Donald,
Great to hear from you. I am sure you enjoyed your time in Florida. Dympna is still in Palm Beach Gardens and comes 'home' quite often I will pass on your message about Gabriel Kerr etc.

I too am very glad Hilden School has been resued thanks to all who worked hard for it.

You are right my Dad was an army man, he passed away 20 Dec 1999. Pat, Tom and Briege Laverty are indeed my cousins. Pat and Briege live in Tonagh and Tom sadly was killed in an accident in Moira in Septemeber 1968 at 21 years old.

Donald hope you have a safe trip home.

Pat Mackell - Sep '06
Yes I do remember you and your family. I hope everyone is well. I am also delighted that the school has been saved from the axe and I am sure it will go from strengh to strengh. Give my best to Marbeth Fletcher when you see her as our families were great friends at that time. Did the secretarial course at the Tech do the trick and lead to a working life in the corporate world?

Mina Fletcher - Sep '06
Hi Pat,
Just to say thanks for you comments on this page and regards to your Mother and the family.

Donald Watters - Sep '06
Hallo Moya,
I'm here on Holiday in Florida until Sept. 28 with my brother in law, Gabriel Kerr, who knows your sister Dymphna very well. He met her here a few times in Florida but lost her address and phone no. The last address was West Palm beach here in Florida. Gabriel would like to get in touch with her and asks if you would give her his emaill address. It's "whokerrs 519" or even mine , it's donfatijo @t as I can send it to him. I remember you both, you were a little younger, about my brother Eamon's age and Dymphna was around mine. Tom and Pat Lavery were your cousins, how are they? Most of all I remember your father who didn't walk but marched, he was a very dignified tall person, an ex military man if I remember.
We all attended Hilden School in the fifties, one big family, our lives were centered around the Mill and School. The Teachers were strict but fair. I'm pleased it's been rescued.
Regards Donald Watters.

Moya Seaton - Sep '06
Hi Pat
I'm Moya Seaton who went to Hilden P S (until 1963) and I remember your Mum, Dad and family. I chummed about with Marbeth + Cynthia Fletcher (Marbeth alerted me to the website) I am sure you remember me now. My Granny was Margaret (Maggie) Burns 163 Mill Street where I used to stay sometimes as I lived in Lambeg. My sister Dympna who is older than me went there too, does anyone else remember us?

I always enjoyed my time at Hilden, Mr Woodend, Miss Scanell, Mr Guest etc., I too was there until I was 15 years and went to 'The Tech' for 2 years on a Secretarial Course.

I remember a lot of the people mentioned, Kingsmores, Watters etc. My Mum Agnes (Burns) Seaton also worked at Hilden Mill for a while. Hilden was always and always will be special in the hearts of those who was associated with it.

Veronica Kelly - Sep '06
I am so delighted that all your hard work and dedication has paid off with a sensible and correct decision made to keep the school open.Long may Hilden IPS, its students and teachers grow and prosper!

Well done all!

Donald Watters - Sep '06
Glad to hear it worked out, keep up the pressure and I hope the number of pupils increases soon, at the moment I'm in Florida but hope the next time I'm in 'Norn iron' to call in. By the way a reunion would be a very suitable way to celebrate this happy event, possibly before they knock down the Mill. A trip down memory lane for quite a few. I missed the last one but would really make an effort, Donald Watters.

Geraldine (Smith) Rumpf - Sep '06
As I read all of the articles, I was laughing at many precious memories that came to mind, while attending Hilden School. Christine (Kingsmore) I had a great laugh reading about your love for my brother Peter when you were 10! I know that I speak for many people to say that we all had many special friends at Hilden as well as the impact, many of the Teachers had on us. Miss Sharkey, Mrs. Harbinson, Mr. Lenaghan, who tried to get me to be able to play on the boys football team, I will never forget the excitement, of putting on that football kit and borrowing my brother's tough leather boots that covered my ankles and hurt like mad! P6/7 class at the bottom of the corridor with 12 of us in the class, taught by the firm but fair Mr. Guest. Preparing for the 11-plus exam. Having school homework over the summer holidays. I didn't enjoy it at the time but that little school gave me such a great foundation for life that just doesn't happen in the schools today. I
have 6 older brothers that attended Hilden and I was disappointed that I could not attend the reunion. I hope it stays open long enough to have another. Best Wishes to all.

Jonny Millen - Sep '06
It was announced today 07/09/06 that Hilden Integrated Primary is to remain open for the forseeable future. The announcement was made to Mr T Conway by the SEELB at a board meeting this afternoon. I am glad to be able to let you know the good news, now the real work begins to get the numbers up at the school so we don't face this again in the future.

Mrs Carol Duffy - Sep '06
We did it! Today we found out the great news that Hilden Integrated Primary School will remain open. We are looking forward to a bright future. Thanks to all the magnificent work carried out by the pupils, parents, staff, governors and friends of Hilden throughout the community we have won our campaign!

Ronnie Stevenson - Sep '06
Congratulations to all of you who fought so hard for Hilden school. You must be very proud of your achievement. You deserve everyone's praise. Thank you.

Brigid Mackell - Sept. 06
Just heard on the news about Hilden School.... I'm delighted that this wonderful school has been saved. Worked there in the 1960's as a cleaner/caretaker. Lived in Hilden Village from 1950 until around 1964. Very happy memories of both the Village and the School have enjoyed reading all the comments and remembering old neighbours and friends. Well done to everyone who fought to keep the school open.

Donald Watters - Sep '06
BBC Northern Ireland recently published this article to which I replied as below. Perhaps a few more Letters may help Donald WATTERS Past pupil from 1949 until 1956

Dear Sir or Madam,
with regard to your article concerning integrated schools in Northern Ireland, (see below ). Please allow me to draw your attention to the fact that my old school near Lisburn, Hilden Public Elementary school, which opened in 1906 was always an integrated school and fighting presently against closure by the Authorities was the first, not as your article writes Lagan College.
regards Donald Watters

The first integrated school in Northern Ireland was Lagan College which opened near Belfast in 1981 and there are now 61 integrated schools with more than 18,500 pupils on the roll books.

Ian McPherson - Sep '06
As a listed building, the Hilden schoolhouse will be open to the public as part of the European Heritage days, about which you can read more here:

The school will be open on Saturday 9th 10am - 2pm, and Sunday 10th, 3pm - 5pm. Admission is free to all participating venues. Contact the school at:
4 Bridge Street, Hilden, LISBURN BT27 4RZ Tel: 028 9260 5357

Past pupils would be very welcome as they can pass on their memories, and we would also welcome those interested in enrolling their children at the school who can see what a beautiful building Hilden IPS is situated in, as well as the general public and those interested in fine architecture and local history.

The new school term starts today and it is expected that the four SEELB commissioners will also be making a decision on the school's future in the coming week.

Ronnie Stevenson - Aug '06
As one of three brothers who all attended Hilden it saddens me to hear of its possible closure. It is a sad commentary on the governance of our homeland when one of the few genuine mixed schools, both in sex and religion is the victim of a faceless people who pay lip service to integrated education.
I wish those leading the fight to preserve Hilden school every success in their endeavours.

To: Adrienne and Jim
As a side issue to this it is nice to see that you are both well and hopefully enjoying life. I well remember the happy times we had at school Adrienne especially in the 11+ class.
In your case Jim I remember the Boys Club camps and a particular walk up Slieve Donard when you were threatened with being kicked down the mountain because you would not stay with the group.
Happy days indeed.
All my regards,

Christine Kingsmore / Crawford - Aug '06
Hello Sammy - yes indeed your family and mine (Kingsmores ) where close I would go down on a Friday night and your dad gave me sixpence and then Elizabeth and Hazel would come up to my house 160 Mill Street, Hilden - and granda would give us a sixpence each as you say sammy your father and mine worked together. Indeed Sammy, they where fantastic days great people you had great parents I remember one day your aunt Maureen was going to kill us because we took a dirty mop and washed the windows in your house we thought we where helping but it was a mess oh how I loved going into your house. Your mother and father where fantastic people as where my own mum who died in 1993 and dad in 1976 just 49 years old but no-one can take the memories away from us sammy please take care tell everyone I was asking for them.

Ian McPherson - Aug '06
Some updates. On June 27th, Lisburn City Council unanimously passed a motion in support of Hilden School (proposed by the DUP's Paul Porter); Seamus Close (Alliance) complained about lack of democracy and underspending by the British Government in NI education. The democratic-deficit was seemingly confirmed on July 7th when Education Minister Maria Eagle sacked the old SEELB board members (churchmen, councillors, etc.) who were due to decide Hilden's future and replaced them with four "commissioners". However, despite setbacks, the process of hiring a new principal is proceding well and parents and governors are planning on making a presentation to the SEELB, tentatively scheduled for August 16th. Plans for the Barbour Mill site include family housing, apartments, a gym, exhibition centre, restaurant, etc. New pictures of the school and mill can be seen at:
Despite a temporary problem with URL redirection, our website has had 2200 hits and there are 71 messages in the guestbook (only one of which was anti-Hilden). Thanks again for everyone's interest and support.

Sam Lowry - Aug '06
I have read all these articles with great interest and the memories come flooding back we lived at 179 mill street hilden. I stumbled on this site by accident i'm glad I did I still can't believe they would even contemplate closing hilden school I have great memories of Christine Kingsmore's family we were all good friends my dad and christine's worked together for years and were very close. Sadly my mum died in1999 and my dad died in 2001, I still live in lisburn as does my brother Thomas sisters Hazel and Teresa. Elizabeth lives in Moira hopefully somebody remembers us

Christine Kingsmore / Crawford - June '06
Just to let you know Ian, I have written to Irene Knox and will continue my support for the school - I loved so much and got so much from that school. If there is any other way I can help please contact me by email: hildengirl1962 at I will help in what every way I can.

Christine Kingsmore / Crawford - June '06
Dear Ian, as an ex pupil off hilden i am disgusted that anyone would want to tear the heart out of our school and it was our heart from my own memories of the school. l recall so many happy times I was in shock when i was leaving hilden school to go to st patrick's. The shock came when i got my uniform and went to my friend's house to see if she had got her uniform as she took it from the wardrobe I explained to her that she had got the wrong uniform or my mother has got me the wrong uniform. But it turned out that we where going to be going to different schools because of our religion what was religion ???????

Well i was to learn the hard way as i was parted from some of my friends but the good thing was it never made any difference we remain friends to this very day. As for hilden school there is not a school in the land could have given me the start in my own life as i went on to be a nurse. Yes of course my second school was fine but my foundation and my roots came from hilden school and they always will. I had the pleasure of being on the first ever p.t.a. that hilden school ever had and it was just like i had never left it.

When i think of hilden school i feel so proud to have been a pupil as were all 10 of us, as were my aunts mary and annie fullerton and my mother kathleen kingsmore nee fullerton, my uncle john mcdermot who passed away around 3 years ago age 94 went to hilden school along with members of his family. I will support hilden primary school as they supported me.

Ian McPherson - June '06
I have been sent a copy of very fine letter sent by an ex-pupil to the SEELB in support of the school. In the next week, before the end of the month, the Hilden Parents Group and Board of Governors will be making submissions to the SEELB. May I ask ex-pupils and / or members of the Hilden community who wish to make their support count to also write to: IRENE KNOX, Chief Executive, SEELB, Grahamsbridge Road, Dundonald, BT16 2HS. I am very grateful for all the support and goodwill so far received.

We also expect the Lisburn City Council to pass a resolution in support of the school at its meeting on Tuesday, June 27th, starting 7pm. I would advise that as many supporters of the school as possible attend this council meeting. Indeed, this whole campaign has been a huge learning experience for me personally and I would advise people generally to make sure they at least semi-regularly attend their local council meetings and lobby their councillors, MPs. MLAs, MEP, etc. They work for you!

There is an anti-small school agenda which is starting to emerge into the public consciousness through "leaks" to the press, etc. Small schools are the heartbeat of their communities, they produce well-rounded, well-educated, well-behaved children, and there is no evidence that they cost more than large schools to maintain.

However, large new "core" schools - the SEELB's current agenda - are easier for administrators to run, regardless of the effects on children and society now and in the future. Spurious evidence about falling numbers contradicts the government's official line that Northern Ireland's birth-rate is among the highest in the EU and that our population is rising. Capping the size of large schools and filling up small local community schools makes more sense, don't you think? Thank you for supporting Hilden School - long live the small school!

Adrienne Carson - June '06
Glad to see my brother send his support, I phoned him to tell him the news and he was annoyed. I remember most of the people Christine mentioned. The Harrissons the Phillips and the Sheridans and I could name eyery family that lived in Hilden. I forgot to mention Mr Guest in my peice he was great he would come to the park some days and play tennis with our class. I met him a few years ago at Mrs Woodend's funeral which I and a few past pupils attended, and it was great to see him and talk of times past. I wonder if he knows about the school.I'm sure he would give his support. Best wishes Adrienne.

Sharon Curran - June '06
I have been teaching Key Stage 1 at Hilden IPS for eight years. It is great to read all the support from past pupils and friends of Hilden IPS. I believe it is a school worth fighting for, we may be small but we have a lot to offer and the family atmosphere is rarely found in bigger Primary schools. Please keep supporting us - we want to be open for our hundreth anniversary and far beyond.

Adrienne Carson nee Kennnedy - June '06
Lovely to read all the comments from pupils of Hilden. It brings back so many memories. MY brother Jim sends his regards to all who remember him. He says hello to Donald. Even my children support the school just from hearing me talk about it. Keep up the good work.

Christine Kingsmore / Crawford - June '06
Hello all, well I think if these people read this page maybe they would think twice about Hilden school. Jim Kennedy, I lived in 160 mill street hilden with my grandparents and 2 aunts, it was a great place to live and go to school - memories off happy times. I hope and pray that the children will get a lot of happiness from the school in years to come.

Pat Mackell - June '06
Christine - You are a gold mine of information and should write it all down. I recognise all the Hilden family names you mention. Isn't funny you coming across the photograph of my father John Mackell. He died a few years ago but always talked about Hilden, the school and Barbour Threads where he spent most of his working life, with great affection. My mother Bridget Mackell is still fit and well and is visiting me in England at the end of July. She has most of the copies of the Newsletter you mention: what date is the one you have? I was very sad to learn of the death of your brothers at such a young age please accept my sympathies.

I recall The Fletcher family well as Mina Fletcher was friends with my mother and often spent the evening in our house. I am sure she will not mind me saying but she could talk the hind legs off a donkey sometimes keeping us entertained into the wee hours.

I am amazed at the response my original article has provoked; and it is a testament to the quality of education and life we all shared in that small corner of Ireland. Hilden school provided the common denominator to generations of children of every religion and none. Jim Kennedy's contribution on this page sums it up more eloquently than I can; but a school that produced rounded, tolerant and productive individuals should not be swept away at the stroke of some beaurocrats pen. Keep up the fight.

Ian McPherson - June '06
Fantastic contributions, especially the testimonials from past pupils. I would be very grateful if people like Jim Kennedy would allow me to quote them on our website:

Jim Kennedy
- June '06
46 Bridge Street, Hilden
152 Mill Street, Hilden

Two addresses that are in my Soul. My life began in the first on 17 July 1941, known as the Back Street, continued in the second, known as the Front Street, to which we flitted about six years later. Flitting from the Back Street, especially the lower part near the wee race to the Front Street was considered to be moving up in the world in those days, everything in the Front Street seemed brighter somehow, although the people were just the same.
I started Hilden Public Elementary School when I was about 4, progressed through the classes until I entered for the Eleven Plus which we knew as the qualifying examination, which I passed, as one of the 100% who never failed under ‘Alex’ Woodend. I attended St Malachy’s College, Belfast for four years, then served an apprenticeship at the University Press, Castlereagh. I moved to London in 1965 to work in the Printing Trade, where I worked for the next thirty years, the last fifteen of those in Government Printing for HMSO, where we did the printing for the House of Commons and the House of Lords. During those thirty years in London I have worked with and lived among a cross-section of most of the World’s peoples.

The reason I am giving this potted history is, that although my working life was nothing out of the ordinary, to go and live and work in another country and mix with a melting pot of people requires character and respect for others, and that is exactly what I learned at Hilden School. Along with the 3R’s , which were compulsory, the teachers explained to you about respecting other people, no matter what their creed or colour. Mr Woodend actually did say that when you go out into the big wide world remember where you were first taught, remember Hilden School. I did, and I am grateful.

I am sure that the teaching staff today are just as dedicated and as good at teaching as any previous teacher. I am also sure that the parents of the pupils today are just as good parents as we had in our day, so therefore the 3R’s and respect for others is just as prevalent. So I think you should do everything within your legal powers to keep the School open. This is the start of the so-called ‘Marching Season’, so march for the School. Get permission, and march on the Town Hall. If the politicians had half the wisdom of past and present teachers of Hilden School a lot of the trials and tribulations of the past thirty years might have been avoided. Remind them that having voted them in you have the power to vote them out again. You are doing a great job in your endeavours to keep Hilden School open and I wish you every success

Wayne Leathem - June '06
A former pupil of HIPS (1970-75), as was my brother Perry (1967-72). My family lived at East Down View.

I recall so much of the 'old' school - the old outside toilets, which thankfully were replaced before I left. The milk issue, which during winter would see bottles lining the radiator pipes attempting to thaw the milk out. Students would be called to class using an old brass bell.

Yes it was a bygone era but the school had standards of education and care and more importantly a focal point of the community. I would be saddened to think that the closure would go ahead.

Christine Kingsmore / Crawford - June '06
Well everyone it seems we never left the school it is so great to think we are all so united. Hilden Mill, funny my grandmother and her brothers and sisters moved from Killyleagh County Down they moved into the house on the corner accross from the school they attened the school - all 19 children. My granny was 1 off 22 chrildren, 19 lived and they attened hilden school, then my mother her 2 sisters - Annie and Mary fullerton. Then I had 6 brothers and 3 sisters who attended - as did my 2 sons and my nephews and neices funny I found a barbour threads limited newsletter last night and pat your fathers photo is in it - no.4 twisting foreman Mr J Mackle, also there was a little letter to my 2 aunts on the death of their mother, my granny, 1973. Also my grandmothers sister Kathleen Harrison and it said this deceased lady was a member of an old-establised and highly respected hilden family whose ancestors came oringinally from Killyleagh, County Down her family and her grand children all attented the school, as did the Ferris family my cousins the Kincellas.

My cousins loads off the family, do these people not know what hilden school done for us all? I could go over all my relatations but it would take a book. The first p.t.a. that started in hilden school, I was a member off as was Ann Mcallister and Phil Mulholand and the mind has gone blank. I remember going around the shops to ask them for items for our sale in hilden park we got loads and we all had a great day in the park. There were all sorts of things that was put on and curtains where bought and fire provided. I have pictures of the fancy dress party that was held in the canteen and quiz nights.

Mrs Richardson was my sons P1 teacher, sadly she pasted away very young. I have her picture from the fancy dress - she dressed up as a cowboy/girl. A lovely wee girl indeed. Hilden school our school are great memories. I remember I was about 10 years old and I was so in love with peter smith he never knew but my heart missed a beat when i would see him.

His brother Francis was in my class and I have a picture off three rows of us getting our photos taken in the yard with Miss Sharkey, oh dear i could go on and on and I pray Hilden school goes on and on.

Pat if you would like a copy of the book let me know, I have changed my email address. So we will all do as much as we can for the best school in northern ireland. Our lives where hilden school, and people who sit at desks decide if they will close Hilden. They never earned the right it was and will remain our school. If in anyway I can help just let me know Christine Kingmsore/Crawford the fight goes on.

Donald Watters - June '06
Hello Ardienne.
Give Jim my regards, of course I remember him, he was a year ahead of me in Hilden school, remember your brother Brendan also who unfortunatly died very young. Didn't he work in Hilden mill? Micheal ran about with my brother, Eamon. I still remember to this day when once Jim and I clubbed up to buy a 5 packet of Woodbine ( 8 old pence ) that was 2 1/2 ciggies each, we each smoked the 1/2 ciggie in the morning and Jim was entrusted to keep the other 4 for the afternoon. After dinner we met and Jim broke the news to me he had "lost" a cigarette out of the packet, and believe it or not that cigarette was one of my remaining two! How he was able to tell that the lost cigarette was mine still remains until this day a mystery, but as he was a year older and larger there wasn't much I could do about it. Give my regards to Sammy Carson your husband, maybe he remembers me, Donald

Ian McPherson - June 06
What fantastic comments from everyone. All past pupils, though they may no longer live in the area, can still help our campaign by writing to politicians across the board, SEELB, DENI, Maria Eagle, NICIE, plus the media - and tell your friends overseas as this story deserves to be told beyond our shores! See the lobby list at

Adrienne Carson ( nee Kennedy ) - June '06
Lovely to read all coments I remember the Mackells though I was older, my brothers are Michael and Jim Kennedy I also knew Mrs Taylor she was in Killwaren House Hillsborough with my aunt Mary Bingham. I spoke to her every week. I knew her well I remember Billy and Norman Taylor to Jim sends his regards to Donald Watters and whoever remembers him. My daughter bought Mr Woodends house some years ago and a lot of his things were left behind and I have them safe - books and photos. Good luck to every one trying to keep the school open.

Eleanor Brennan (Headmistress) - June '06
I have just discovered all these interesting reminiscences; reminds me of the 90th celebrations we had nearly 3 years ago, when past pupils and staff returned to visit school. I hope we will all meet again when our school building celebrates its 100th birthday!
This threat of closure must, in its own way, be good for school. I have hope that school and the entire community which has united against the SEELB proposal will be stronger when the future of school has been secured.
It is sad to see the last linen mill in Lisburn closing. Fortunately plans are for the site to be developed aesthetically, mindful of its history and character. School must be a living part of the regeneration of the area.
Past pupils, please support us by enroling your children and grandchildren into school and by encouraging your friends and neighbours to do likewise. Our children now do not all live locally. Many travel in from all parts of Lisburn and the surrounding areas. That is parental choice.

Angela Harris (Watters) - June '06
Hello my name is Angela Harris/Watters and I attended Hilden Primary School along with my sister Rosemary and brother Edmund. We all loved this little school and have fond memories, one that comes to mind was our Christmas play in the EMB Hall - I had to sing Away in the Manger and I took one look at everyone watching and the words would not come out. My Dad kept me going after and said that I was the best singer there! There was always a great homely feeling in the school we all looked out for each other. My favourite day was Friday as this was "chip day" - I could go over to the mill canteen and get a bag of chips, it made a great change from my granny's lunch as I went to her house (she lived in the mill row) every day. The Headmaster then was Mr Guest he was a very striking man who was strict but fair, I met him at the anniversary a while back. That was a memorable day my brother took the time to fly home from Munich we had a great time seeing all the "old faces", we had what sadly was our last trip around the mill. My dad and my cousin Donald Watters also attended the school and I know if my dad was alive today he to would feel very sad about this wee school closing.

Mandy Smith - May '06
Mandy Smith, past pupil, past parent, present employee.
My family are very annoyed and disappointed at the decision by the S.E.E.L.B. to propose the closure of H.I.P.S. My brothers, sisters, myse lf and my son all attended Hilden. We made many friends from both sides of the community and benefited greatly from integrated education.We all must fight and take a stand against this decision and the poison of segregation.

Nicola Davidson - May '06
It was a sad day for the people of Hilden - Friday 26 May as the mill horn sounded for the very last time at midday. The horn which has not been heard for many years brought back happy memories and also marked the end of an era for Hilden Mill. We took all the kids in the school outside to hear the horn which sounded four times and the children applauded after each sounding. It brought tears to many children and staff as they remembered grandparents and great grandparents who had worked there and have since passed away. My Dad, brother and brother in law were amongst the handful of workers there to the end and it was a sad occasion for all of them .I remember going to Hilden park to play on our school lunch break, after we had had our little bag of greasy chips from the mill canteen and running back to school on the sound of the first horn to be there before the second horn went. If i wanted to go to the shops or play in the park in the afternoon my mother always used to say" hurry up before the mill gets out " as it was impossible to get across the road.

After the events of today it has made me more determined than ever to do all I can to help save what is left of " our little village" and make sure that Hilden Integrated Primary School remains open. On the 3o June 2007 we are not going to hear the school bell ringing for the very last time, That bell will continue to ring for many many years.

Donald & Edmund Watters it was lovely to see you both at the school and hear your stories about your time at Hilden. And remember that all past pupils are welcome anytime!

Veronica Kelly
- May '06
My grandmother went to Hilden Primary - Sarah Magennis - and I've always had a soft spot for the area. I live by the river at Ballyskeagh now and know the Lagan like the back of my hand! While the issue is an emotive one and there's a lot of deserved sentimentality about, the support for the school remaining open is great to see!

Just to add my two-pence-worth to the - 'hellos to old neighbours'. My mum (Sarah's daughter, Betty) says hello to Harry McKittrick! My mum's uncles, Harry and Patrick Magennis and her aunt, Kitty Magennis lived in Hilden and also her other cousins, Sally and Mary Spence. Her grandad Magennis was also the Park Ranger.

No wonder I feel a tie to Hilden. Mum also attended the school for a very short time - she thinks during the Blitz.

Ian McPherson - May '06
James & Margaret Mulholland - Your niece will continue to go to Hilden because - the school is not going to close! They are trying to close it , but we will not let them. Parents can still enrol their children in this fine school. Believe in people, good people, working people, believe in yourself and in your community and believe in Hilden School. We shall overcome.

Terry Conway - May '06
As someone whose school life started at Hilden I know the strength of feeling that exists to preserve our school. The response from parents and friends has been tremendous.

Being Chairman of the Board of Governors seems a long way from Miss Scanell's class giving out the blackboards ,chalks and dusters! It's great to read all the comments about the school and if there are any readers who remember me from class please get in touch.

Having been part of the delegation that met with the SEELB Chief Executive last Friday, I believe we have put forward a strong case to retain the school. With the release of the Triennial Action Plan promoting greater integration across all government departments, it would be a serious breach of policy.

The Board of Governors will continue to explore every avenue to emerge from this challenge. Parents and friends of the school can lobby the local councillors. School parents and prospective parents keep faith in Hilden School-it truly is a school for everyone.

Ian McPherson - May '06
The Ulster Star published the childhood memories of Hilden Village as recalled by Adrienne Carson (nee Kennedy) this week. Read the article (with photos) online at:

Also, the Save Hilden Integrated Primary School campaign now have our own free Google discussion group at:

A group of parents attended a SEELB committee meeting on 17/05 and were stunned to discover that Hilden has NO supportive political representation at all, even from our own local Lisburn councillors. We must do all our own lobbying. A list of people to lobby is available at

Thanks for everyone's good wishes and support!

James Mulholland, Margaret Mulholland - May '06
Hi there!
The decision to close Hilden IPS is a tragic and a pathetic attempt to polarize the sociological make up of Lisburn as a whole. Everyone should learn together in a spirit of Kinship and passion.
The DUP should be ashamed to be representing the people of Lisburn and reevaluate their policy on integrated education.
My niece goes to Hilden, what will she do when it closes?
She has set up her own web page to show her and all our families support to the cause of keeping Hilden open!!

Louise Farr - May '06
I have two children presently attending Hilden Integrated Primary School and another child due to join in 2 years - It is with great regret that we as concerned parents teachers and children faced with closure of our wee school are faced with this Consultation Procedure - We must all stand together to keep our Integrated School open and after all we are the voices of our children. Who after all attend the school and cannot speak for themselves! Perhaps Hilary McVitty would attend the School with SELB and find out for herself what a great School we have and how well taught pupils are. Integrated education is better all round as everyone is just the same, great friends and pals! The the SELB has any compassion - keep the school open!

Nicola Davidson - May '06
Hilden Integrated Primary School are having their annual car boot sale on Saturday 3 June 11 am - 1pm. Money raised will go towards the save hilden school campaign. It would be great to see lots of you past pupils there and hear more about your time at Hilden. So come along for a wee cup of tea and a bit of craic!

Agnes & Cam Cambden - May '06
Nessie cambden May.15.2006. My grand children attend Hilden school. While on holiday my husband an I were asked to go to the school and tell the children about canada. We had a great time the children were animated and curious as to what Canada was like. The questions were interesting and very intelligent We had a very good time. it is such a beautiful school with lot's of character. Please don't make the mistake that they make here in Canada by pulling down buildings that have some history and beauty of days gone by. Please please do not let this lovely building go up in dust and memory lost. We took some lovely pictures of the school inside and out.

Chrsitine Kingsmore - May '06
I had a teacher called Mrs Magaverion and we all loved her. The reason - she had time as did all the other teachers, but when we were getting off for our holiday breaks she would come into the class and have lots of tins with her and guess what they were - sweets for us all to have a party. We never had to bring anything in for a party, she always did. Hilden School to me was a place where I felt safe, loved and encouraged. There are no other schools like it and there never will be, so why destroy what we and our families enjoyed and continue to enjoy.

Ian McPherson - May '06
Hi Christine, The "heated dispute" was between the SEELB on one hand and myself and other like-minded parents who just refuse to roll over and play dead. We just DO NOT believe the SEELB's reasons; we do not accept the "unanimous" vote; the minutes of the vote to close the school which are either correct or not correct depending on who you ask; the lack of any impact statement which is a prerequisite for starting closure proceedings (with Hilden, things happen in reverse), etc. Daphne Trimble (UUP) did not believe the committee had had enough time to acquaint themselves with the facts; Jenny Palmer (DUP), whose brothers attended the school reiterated that the minutes were wrong; and both Ivan Davis (UUP) and Seamus Close (All.) were stunned at the farcical nature of the whole business. The SEELB were left in no doubt that they have a fight on their hands. Nearly 1000 signatures on the petition so far (including that of Mayor Jonathon Craig). The kids had a great time at the !
Mayor's parade on Saturday and a group of parents marched behind wearing protest t-shirts and handing out flyers to the crowd. We got a sympathetic response from Joe Public. Power to the people!

Jonny Millen - May '06
The fight to save Hilden Integrated Primary is a very worthy cause. I live in Glenmore and my step daughter has attended the school now for three years and loves it, as indeed do we the parents. She is a christened Roman Catholic, my other two children that are approaching school age are both protestant. Hilden is the only primary school in Lisburn that all my children are able to attend together because of its integrated status. The nearest other integrated primarys are in Derriaghy and Carryduff, not easy to get to two or three times a day if you don't drive. The school may be small but has a great family like atmosphere amongst the pupils and parents. The last government inspection on the school was a credit to the Headmistress and teachers as DENI gave them a glowing report.
This however seems irrelevant to the SEELB and their Planning Services committee, that on this occasion have been gifted executive powers to rush through the proposals for closure of the school. All these people (see who they are on seem to be interested in is attendance figures and projections, the human factor and distress to an entire community isn't important enough to take into consideration on such an important decision.
Please Help the children of Hilden Integrated save their school.

Christine Kingsmore - May '06
We need to support our wee school, I believe there was a heated dispute in the school on monday night.

Mrs Carol Duffy - May '06
Hello everyone, I have been teaching at Hilden for eight years now. It's a great school with fantastic children, parents and staff. I found it really heart-warming to read your comments and think that I'm teaching in a school that holds so many memories for all of you. Please do all you can to help us keep Hilden going strong for another 130 years.

Donald Watters - May '06
Hello Christopher, I remember your father, Billy. He served an apprenticeship in Hilden mill as a fitter, I worked with him later in the Tilley lamp in the Toolroom. Didn't you have an older sister? Your Granny lived across from the Boys entrance to the school, a diminutive woman whose hair was tied back in a bun don't remember your Grandfather though.

Ian - May '06
If you live in the Hilden / Glenmore area, there is a petition in support of the school going the rounds. Also, the website is up and running and you can leave messages of support for the school in the guestbook. The people of this area know that this school is an essential part of the community, and they also know there is something dodgy about the SEELB's rush to close it - they feel that the development of the mill is not simple coincidental. The site of the school must be worth a fortune in today's market and, if I understand correctly, if it ceases to be a school, then it reverts back to whoever owns the mill. There is a meeting at Hilden School tonight for parents, teachers, governors, local politicians and SEELB reps to discuss what is going on (Monday 8/5/6, 7:30pm). We must NOT let apathy weaken our cause - that is what these bureaucrats are banking on!

Edmund Watters - May '06
My Father Ronnie Watters and sisters Angela and Rosemary and myself attended Hilden school as well as other members of the Watters family. I've since moved to Munich, Germany however on my few trips home I often take a wee drive past the old place. I have nothing but fond memories of the school, Mr. Guest the headmaster and all the friends I made there, Michael Ferguson, Mark McCartney, Leona Mckilroy, Steven Dunlop, Tyrone McConnel, Paul Donnelly to name but a few. Surely pupil numbers will rise when the proposed development of Hilden mill takes place? This would be a tragedy if allowed to happen.

Christine Kingsmore - May '06
I do hope there will be a lot of support for Hilden School, it supported us when we where attending the school - now it is time for us to support hilden as best we can.

Christine Kingsmore - May '06
Hi pat, I don't remember my granny doing this but they where great times did you know Francis died on the 21/11/2000, he was 48 and my brother Michael died 31/3/2000 then on the 18/6/2000- my aunt Mary died. I lived with them in Hilden from when i was 2 years old - i loved it. Sure that wee boy who was murdered at the lagan, young James McMachon was related to Nellie Watters his mum was called Philomena Hughes. I nursed Miss Skenell until she past away - Pat they where great times indeed you had great parents-- please tell Terna I was asking for her. Do you remember Davy Egar, Granny used to make him tea and I was afraid off him. Then there where the Lowery's at the bottom of the street, Maggie and Dickie Henrey , Mary and Sally Spence, Tessie Wallace the Quinns, Stella Quin was married to my dads brother - Mr and Mrs Flechter. I saw Mrs Flecher a few months ago she has hardly changed her girls used to dress me up on May Day,--+ then there was sarah !
MaCauley's the Poots', the Dornan's we all had a great time. Now at 48 myself Ihad to retire from Nursing as I got knocked down by joyriders? After 29 years as a nurse I realy miss it and I have no pictures off us crowd - so pat I will hear from you again soon I hope, can't get over my granny.

Pat Mackell - May '06
Christine Kingsmore, my sister is Tierna Mackell (now Flannigan) I will pass on your comments to her. I clearly recall your brothers Fancis and David. I also remember your grandmother. One day on our way home from school my younger brother Sean got into a fight with Francis or David ( I cant remember which) who then ran into your house saying "that fellow Mackell has hit me" your granny flew out into the street looking for retribution. Along I come happy as larry unaware of any conflict and the only mackell in sight. Your granny got me by the throat and I recall her handbag flashing around my head as I ran for cover!

I also recall Miss Skanell. Do you recall the drum stick she used as a cane? In her first class she always insisted that we had 10 minutes "quiet time" head down on folded arms on our desks. We were not allowed to look up. On day I peeked over the fold of my arm and there she was munching on a sandwich.

Give my best to your family. Great days and great people.

Mrs. N Davidson - May '06
Christopher you had better hurry up if you want photos of the mill !!!! as far as i know planning permission has already been granted for apartments and town houses. If you want to leave your e.mail i could take some pictures and e.mail them to you. The mill looks so run down it is such a shame!!! you are more that welcome at the school while it is still there we get loads of past pupils calling in for a look around.

Ann McAllister - May '06
Well I hope hilden school does not close and i will certainly do my bit to prevent it.

Christine Kingsmore Crawford - May '06
Hi all of you i remember ternia mackell she was in my class at hilden i lived with my grand parents and my 2 aunts at 160, mill street hilden, sam bleakley's wee shop. I am one of the kingsmores I cannot believe that they want to close hilden school. i am sure yous remember us as there was only 10 of us (haha). I just cant believe i found this site i feel like i am reliving my child hood .We had miss skynell in primary 1. I ended up nursing her in her last days, - then there was mrs harbinson, she was great i remember yous ; and if i am right harry is a great manchester united fan? has no-one any photos of those times? they where great times.

I think I was blessed for the child hood i had living with my grandparents and my two aunts in mill street hilden, they where the best we could have wished for and i was spoiled by the fletcher girls who used to take me around for the queen of the may. I just want to thank everyone i knew in hilden for their kindness .We were one big happy family, if one hurt we all hurt. my best friends at school where ann mcallister, ursula kincella, rosemary watters , i still am in contact with ann and ursula. my tribute goes to my grandmother and grandfather teeney and francis fullerton and my two aunts mary and annie, i miss them every day but i am so proud of them, i lived with them from i was 2 years old. mum and dad lived in delacherois avenue with the other 9 children. also to all my friends at hilden school for making my life a happy one.

Its good to hear all of your memories about hilden school, my brother francis was the oldest and when he left hilden he went to the tech, then there was david, michael, paul, mary, brigid, anthony, kevin and myself christine kingsmore - I loved living in mill street and going to hilden primary, we were a special crowd and i know it was the happiest time in my life all the visits around the mill - i remember performing the black and white minstrels in hilden park and peter smith was my partner. there are so many memories, i hope i hear more about the memories we had and maybe some where, someone has pictures - they are doing a large story in the star very soon as i had written to them and they want all the information they can get about our wee school-- keep on with your stories.

I was just wondering if anyone ever knew the kincellas or mcgreavys. My mother was called kathleen fullerton. Before she married, my grandmother was called teeny kincella and she came from around saul or rehalp????anyone know of them i would love to here from anyone who might have known them.

Ian McPherson - May '06
The SSEELB are tyring to close Hilden Primary School - the only Integrated primary school in the "City for Everyone". Falling student numbers are blamed but other schools with fewer pupils are being spared and many local people are signing a petition in support of the school; they know that, despite the fact that the area is mainly working-class and Protestant, it is also surprisingly peaceful and well-integrated, and they believe that the school is a vital part of the area's special character.

I am putting together a website in support of the campaign to keep the school open - both parents and governors are doing whatever they can. Unfortunately, the SEELB have created a climate of uncertainty in which some parents are already 'jumping ship', thus adding to the SEELB's contention that the school is not viable; in other words, their own actions have created the evidence they require for their case.

Many local people suspect that the redevelopment of the Barbour Mill is the real threat to this listed building. I will add a link to this page from my site and would certainly appreciate any contributions (stories, memories, photos, messages of support) which any of you would care to send me:

Donald Watters - May '06
My first thoughts when I read about the closing of my " Alma Mater !" were " How can they". I, born 1944, remember my first day in Hilden school as if it was yesterday, Auntie Nellie, who after the death of my mother in 1949 took her place as " Ersatz Mutter" and taking leave from her splicing table in No 4 Twisting in Hilden Mill, donned her best coat and took me to Hilden school and overgave me in the care of Miss Skanell in Junior Infants. I shared a desk with Terence Rickard, who together with his twin sister Brigit were to accompany me through all classes until I left to attend Lisburn Tech in 1956..
Mr Woodende, his wife Emily, Junes Cochran, Archie Guest, Paddy Rowan, ( his son Peter who incidently was also a pupil and his party piece was a poem " IF ALL THE SEAS WERE ONE SEA") Jimmy Keaton were members of the teaching staff then. The girls were taught cooking in a classroom specially equiped with ovens, later they went once a week to Lisburn tech.
The introduction of the school dinners 1954 which were cooked in the Central school and delivered in containers, the Cornation of Elisabeth , when we were given a tin box filled with Smarties and marched to the Wallace park to celebrate, winning a football cup, an accident where a fellow pupil, Freddie Dixon from Dunmurray suffered injuries flying a kite which came into contact with overhead cables are just some of the memories I have.
Father MacNamara came once a year and tested the Catholic kids on their religous knowledge, they envied the other pupils as they had a holiday.
The school photographer was also a regular visitor, I used to try to figure it out how after sitting four on a bench together to be photographed when the photos arrived we were alone on the picture.
The magician came also, on a bike with his magic suitcase strapped behind .
The wrought iron railings and gates were renewned early 1950s as the original were melted down during the war to make weapons.

Christopher Taylor - May '06
great to read your reply. My dad's family lived at Hilden from the 20's to approx late 60's when my Granny Taylor had to leave as they were knocking all the houses down, she eventually lived to the ripe old age of 101. Your Grandfather would definately remember them. I hope the school does not close as it would surely be destroyed as well. I am now going to make a date to return and take some photos of the school and the Mill.
I went to Willie Foote. I agree with Mr Davidson about there being nothing left, that is why I am trying to find old photos.

Pat Mackell - May '06
I cant believe they are going to close the school. Why is that ...are the numbers down? They would'nt be closing it if the "wee man" was still around! Best of luck Mr Davidson.

Christopher I am unable to recall your grandmother Elizabeth Taylor. Roughly what years did your family live in Bridge street? I'll ask my own mother when I next speak with her. She was the caretaker at the school late 50's early 60's. My grandfather "wee Harry" Loftus was the school patrol crossing man and marshalled the children like a regiment of solidiers. He disliked cars and would make a point of stopping almost every vechicle that went past just for the hell of it. I also climbed the 41 steps many a time on my way up to the Low Road. Sadly I have no phographs of the area.

N Davidson - May '06
Hi pat thought you would like to know the education board are trying to close the school. I myself attended hilden in the late 70's early 80's. My two daughters attend there and i now work there. We just learnt last week of the proposed closure and we are going to do all we can to keep it open. My dad works in the mill and he will be one of the last workers to go after it closes on 24 may. There will soon be nothing historical left of Hilden !!!

Christopher Taylor - May '06
Hi my name is Christopher Taylor. I am originally from Huguenot drive, top of the 41 steps. My grandmother lived beside Mrs McKittrick, her name was Elizabeth Taylor. My father Billy, brother Norman, and sister May went to Hilden school. Many a tale they told of those days. Sadly all have now passed away.
Unfortunately I do not remember either of you gents but I am sure you will remember my family.
I have enjoyed reading your article. I was browsing looking for old photos of the area, possibly of the houses were my grandmother lived. If you could help it would be great.

Pat Mackell - April '06
Harry, I remember your family well; and the long games of "Kick the Bucket" and hide and seek. My family is now scattered to the four winds: some live in Southern Ireland and I live in England. But I will always have a warm spot for Hilden, the school, the Overs, the Robins Den, the Park, the Lock on the Lagan ... I could go on and on. Give my regards to all your family.

Harry McKittrick - March '06
Hi Pat. I don't ready know if you rememder me, my name is Harry McKittrick, l lived at 49 bridge street Hilden, and went to school with you. I remember you and your family living in Hilden. Nice to read your article and bring back some old memories. How are you keeping these days?



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