a town with history built in

Photo courtesy of the Comber Historical Society

The man who built The Titanic

Thomas Andrews

Local man Tom Andrews came from a very talented family in Comber. His siblings went on to become Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, and a Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland. Tom gained his fame from his talent in design. The design of ships. He was involved with design and construction of many of the White Star line – the Mystic, Celtic, Baltic, Adriatic, Oceanic, Olympic and of course the infamous Titanic. By the time he was working on the design of the Titanic Tom was the Managing Director of the Belfast Shipyard, Harland & Wolff. In 1912 the ship was ready and Tom sailed on it from Southampton towards New York. The rest is history and unfortunately Tom never made it back to Comber. He is remembered here with a monument up at the Non-Subscribing church where his parents are buried – the inscription reads ‘Lost at sea in the foundering of the SS Titanic 15th April 1912. Pure, just, generous, affectionate and heroic, he gave his life that others might be saved’. He is also remembered through the Andrews Memorial Hall, opened in 1915 by his widow.

Combers beginnings…

The town began as a small settlement in the northwest corner of Strangford Lough many, many years ago. The name derives from the Irish ‘Comar’ meaning the meeting of waters – where the rivers Enler and Glen meet. The town began to prosper in the early 1600s. 

On the up

  • In the early 1600s we had an influx of Scottish settlers. The Andrews family arrived at this time and began making important moves to improve Comber and bring it prosperity. Through trade in the linen industry, flour mills, corn mills, spinning mills, a whiskey distillery and the arrival of the railway the town was on the up and up. 

What about now?

  • We’re a up and coming town now with many independent businesses
  • Our Farmers Market is held at St Mary’s Parish Church on the first Thursday of every month
  • Comber potatoes are now a global brand with PGI Status, celebrated at the Comber Earlies Food Festival in June.
  • Comber Greenway is a very popular section of the National Cycle Network
  • Castle Espie is a renown wetland reserve managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust

Interested in History?

Comber Historical Society

Public Records Office of Northern Ireland

Titanic Belfast

Nendrum Monastic Site

Who’s that guy in the Square?

Photo courtesy of Daniel Gourley Photography

Rollo Gillespie

A career soldier with a multitude of campaigns around the world in the late 1700s and early 1800s. He met his end at the Battle of Nalapani in Nepal in 1814. His last words are inscribed on the monument in the square – ‘One shot more for the honour of Down’. He is also remembered with a monument in St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Andrews Memorial Hall

Built in 1915 in memory of local man Thomas Andrews, designer of the Titanic. Designed by prominent Belfast architects Young & McKenzie, known for their iconic buildings in Belfast city centre. 

The Greenway

Seven glorious traffic free miles of pathway for walking and cycling. It runs from Belfast to Comber mostly along the old railway line which closed in 1950.

Edmund De Wind

Local man and First World War soldier, killed in action in 1918 and posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice in battle.

The Tourist Trophy

A famous International road race held from 1928 to 1936. The circuit ran through Comber, Newtownards and Dundonald. The 30 lap race generated spectator crowds of up to 250,000.

North Down Cricket Club

Founded in 1857 on an old bleach green, and still going strong. Situated on Castle Lane, it has a beautiful old pavilion dating back to 1909.


I thought there was a distillery?

Yes indeed, Comber was well know for producing a high quality Irish whiskey. Comber Distilleries began trading and making whiskey in 1825 and was producing 150,000 gallons of the good stuff a year. Taste and markets changed until the last batch was produced in 1956. In more recent times some reserves were discovered, bottled and sold in the 1980s with the label ‘Old Comber’. If you have a bottle, hold on to it – they’re worth a small fortune. The distillery was located down on Killinchy Street where there is now an Indian restaurant in the building known locally as the ‘Cooperage’ – where the barrels were made.