During the influx of Scots in the early 1600s (see Plantation of Ulster), a settlement grew up at Comber, although it was focused about a mile further south than at present, in the townland of Cattogs, and there is evidence that the settlement was a port used by traders and fishermen. By the 1700s, however, the focus of the town had moved to the area of the present main Square and Comber became established as an industrial centre with several mills.
The Andrews family made Comber a centre of both linen production and grain processing by the second half of the 1700s. Whiskey distilling was a prominent industry by the mid 1800s, the most prominent of the distillers being John Miller, uncle of William James (Lord) Pirrie and Eliza (wife of Thomas Andrews Snr.). One member of the Andrews family, Thomas, rose to fame as designer of the ill-fated Titanic, although he tragically lost his life when the ship sank in 1912. By 1841 the town had 1,400 inhabitants. The 20th century saw Comber lose much of its industry but re-establish itself as a commuter town for the Belfast urban area, swelling in population from 4,000 in 1961 to 8,933 according to the 2001 Census.
In Comber's Square, you cannot fail to see the statue of Major General Rollo Gillespie. Gillespie was a local war hero from the 19th century, famous for his heroic exploits in India. It was unveiled on 4 June 1845 (St. John's Day). Fifty lodges of the Masonic Order were present, in what is believed to be the biggest Masonic gathering in Irish history. It was calculated that 25,000 to 30,000 people crowded into the town to witness the ceremony. The column is 55 feet high. At the foot of the column are many Masonic symbols and his famous last words "One shot more for the honour of Down".
Norman Nevin MBE was not a native of Comber but much of Comber’s past was researched by him. He came originally from Newtownards, but settled and taught in Comber, developing a great love for the town. Over the years Norman Nevin became a well-known and popular figure here. In addition to his role as headmaster of Comber Primary school, he was Lieutenant Colonel of the Army Cadet Force and an Elder in First Comber Presbyterian Church. He never married, and it is said that he regarded the school as his family, maintaining an interest in his former pupils. He has been described as “a great man with high moral values and integrity. Norman was born on 3rd. May 1909 and died on 19th. February, 1996. - Just short of his eighty-seventh birthday. He left behind a wealth of information about Comber, which he meticulously studied over the years. He could often be seen about the town with a camera, recording people and events. He also wrote this story up to about 1984 and, probably, had it typed up by his school secretary but always refused to have it published. Unfortunately, the printed document was on A3 size paper which was too large for comfortable reading. The document was housed in Comber Library and was at one stage photo-copied and reduced in size to A4. This did not however make it any easier to read as the type was also reduced to a very small size. His works were transcribed to pdf format by Erskine Willis January 2008 and is currently available for download here
The other local primary school is Andrew's Memorial primary school which is of a similar size and as part of the school buildings includes the Andrews Memorial Hall, which was built by the citizens of Comber in memory of Thomas Andrews the shipbuilder of the Titanic.
The third primary school is St. Mary's Primary School, which is much smaller in size.
Comber is classified as a Small Town by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (ie with population between 4,500 and 10,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 8,933 people living in Comber. Of these:
For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service
the hockey club has a wide range of all ages across the age range from the juniors to the veterans in both male and female caterogaries
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