Contemporary Industry and Commerce: An Overview

An overview of the contemporary economy of Northern Ireland

Modern industrial heritage started with efforts to re-employ workers as major industries shed jobs due to international competition and the development of new materials and processes.

As synthetic fibres replaced linen, manufacturers were encouraged to redeploy available skills. These fibres became out priced when the cost of the oil on which they were based quadrupled in the 1970s, and they too became obsolete.

Firms which used their products, such as clothing and carpet manufacturers, followed, although some survived until the end of the twentieth century. Other firms in transport and similar industries were brought in and prospered for a time before their enormous buildings had either to be demolished or subdivided for smaller enterprises.

Development of low volume, high value goods such as electronic components and communications equipment became a target for growth, and this led to the current concentration on computer related products. The range of products made in Northern Ireland has, over the years, been quite remarkable for such a small home market.

© Kathleen Neill at Belfast Industrial Heritage Ltd