Balnamore House

Balnamore House

John Caldwell was a well-known linen merchant in the Ballymoney area. He was a Captain in the Ballymoney Volunteers and in 1764, he purchased a home near the town of Ballymoney, Northern Ireland. A home named Millburn Cottage was demolished to make way for Balnamore House, as it stands today.

Caldwell’s ancestors had come from Scotland to Antrim and Tyrone in the second half of the 17th century. In 1767, he married Elizabeth Agnew and they set up home with their twelve children, three of whom died.

After inheriting a lease to the property from his deceased father, John Caldwell acquired the freehold to the same property by taking advantage of his landlord’s failure to repay a debt.

The family owned the entire quarterland of Ballynacree-Skein, which is around 185 acres. This land later included a corn mill. Balnamore Mill was one of the largest spinning mills outside of Belfast and during its peak, it employed over 400 people. It was also one of the first dry flax spinning mills ever built in Ireland and people travelled from all across Ireland to work there.

Two of Caldwell’s sons, Richard and John Caldwell, were key figures in the United Irish Rebellion and as a result, both the mill and their home were set on fire. Richard was ordered to be executed but through his father’s contacts, this was repealed.

In 1799, the Caldwell family were banished to America with “hundreds of Irish Radicals” where, according to some sources, they founded the town of Londonderry in New Hampshire. Richard died in 1812 while fighting with the United States Army against the British.

Balnamore House was sold to James Thompson Bryan and in 1863, he commissioned the rebuilding of the mansion. The architect of the rebuilt was Fitzgibbon Lough. The rebuilt Balnamore Mansion is described as an Italianate mansion.

At some point in time, Balnamore House was left abandoned, and the mill closed for good in 1959.

In 2022, Balnamore House sold for £200,000 in a cash only sale. The new owners hope to restore it to its former glory.

At 12:50am on Wednesday 5th April 2023, five fire appliances were dispatched to attend a fire at Balnamore House. By 4.19am, the fire had been brought under control. The police in Coleraine are appealing for any witnesses to come forward following a report of arson.

Our enquiries to establish the circumstances of this incident, which we are treating as arson, are ongoing, and we are appealing to anyone who might have been in the area at the time and saw any suspicious activity, or who may have any information which could assist us, to get in touch.

The number to call is 101, quoting reference number 37 of 05/04/23.”

Alternatively, you can submit a report online using the non-emergency reporting form via

You can also contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at

PSNI Police Spokesperson

Balnamore House sustained signficant fire, smoke and water damage from this arson attack.

When we explored Balnamore House, it was virtually stripped. The outside of the home was still impressive to the eye but inside, nothing remained other than a handful of original features, including magnificent fireplaces and the staircase. We also had a little feline friend follow us around!

First published on • Last updated on


45, Balnamore Road, Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, BT53 7PR, United Kingdom.

Longitude / Latitude
-6.5571815, 55.0646524

12 comments on “Balnamore House

  1. William

    John Caldwell senior was, indeed, a well-known linen merchant in Ballymoney area and for a time, Captain of Ballymoney Volunteers. He did not, however, purchase a cottage called Millburn in 1764. Millburn Cottage did not exist then. It was James Thomson (c.1799-1866) who named Millburn Cottage at some point, between 1830 and 1845. Before then the property was owned by the Smith family, but it was not called Millburn Cottage when they lived there. There is no evidence to support a claim that the Smith family home or Millburn Cottage, was where the Caldwell family had once lived. In fact, there is no evidence at all to say where exactly the Caldwell family had lived in Ballynacree-Skein. John Caldwell senior didn’t purchase land in Ballynacree-Skein either, he inherited a lease to the property from his late father and then later secured a free hold to that same property when his landlord failed to repay a debt to him.

    Millburn Cottage was not renamed Balnamore House. Millburn Cottage was demolished to make way for Balnamore House. The term Harmony Hill did not refer to a house. It was the name the Caldwell family had given to their entire property at Ballynacree-Skein. Harmony Hill was the land, the house, the out-buildings, and everything else in and around the Caldwell property there. The Caldwell’s had several homes in and around the Ballymoney area. The Caldwell house at Ballynacree-Skein was just one of these residences. There main residence was in Ballymoney town. That is where the family first set up home – not at Ballynacree-Skein. This idea that the Caldwell’s owned a property that measured 40-acres at Ballynacree-Skein [now Balnamore] has been knocked about for years and it is incorrect. Along with several other properties in the local area, the Caldwell’s owned the entire quarterland of Ballynacree-Skein – roughly all 185 acres. The Caldwell family owned a fairly substantial portfolio of properties. One of these properties – the one at Ballynacree-Skein, did have a corn mill. It was called Harvey’s Corn Mill and records show it was in that area as far back as 1637. By 1859 it had been decommissioned. Balnamore Flax and Tow Spinning Mill wasn’t just one of the largest spinning mills outside of Belfast. It was one of the first dry flax spinning mills ever built in Ireland. Over the years, it was a substantial employer in the area too. People travelled from far and wide to work there.

    I’m afraid you were wrong to infer that the Caldwell home is still in use today at Balnamore. The Caldwell family home was engulfed by fire in 1798 and destroyed. Nothing remained of it and there is no evidence that it was ever rebuilt. The Harmony Hill in Balnamore today harks back to that time, mostly because of tourism, but it is not the house that the Caldwell’s lived in. It’s the house that the Thomson family had lived in.

    By 1799 the Caldwell’s had left Ballynacree-Skein and even though their financial influence remained in the area until 1803, they were not responsible for building the first dry spinning mill in that area. The first dry spinning mill at Balnamore was built for Josiah William Bryan (1768 – 1837) between 1806 and 1809. It was built with the financial support of John Ewing (c. 1736-1812) of Macedon. More to the point – between 1804 and 1805, Harvey’s Corn Mill and the Bleach Mill, were still very much part of the industry at Ballynacree-Skein. The Caldwell house was destroyed by fire in 1798, but the surrounding industries (including Harvey’s Corn Mill and the Bleach works), were not destroyed by fire. The notion that they were destroyed by fire comes from a text, where the author made use of a letter that was transcribed incorrectly from the original source.

    Richard Caldwell was ordered to be executed and was saved by his father’s efforts. Efforts which cost the man greatly. He had to use a substantial portion of his financial wealth to barter for the life of his son. The other son – John Caldwell junior, was tried and found guilty of treason and sedition too. But this sentence was commuted to life banishment. That was paid for by his father too; indeed, their father paid a significant amount of money to secure freedom and safety for the rest of his family, who altogether paid a huge price. They were all forced to emigrate to America where Captain Richard Caldwell of 25th U.S. Regiment did die while fighting against British forces at Champlain on 22 November 1812. To my knowledge, the Caldwell’s did not, however, found the town of Londonderry in New Hampshire, but they were early settlers in Orange County, New York.

    In 1857 Millburn Cottage was sold to James Thomson Bryan (1809-1871). James Thomson Bryan was son to Josiah William Bryan, the man who had the first spinning mill built at Balnamore. Between 1857 and 1863, Millburn Cottage was demolished. Balnamore House was built in its stead for James Thomson Bryan in 1863. The architect was, as you mentioned, Fitzgibbon Louch (1826-1911). It was designed as an Italianate mansion and built – in my opinion, to mark the Bryan families return to the area. Balnamore Flax and Tow Spinning Mill closed for business at 1pm on 27 February 1959. Balnamore House remained occupied until the late 1990’s or early 2000’s. To my knowledge – the last occupants were the Henry family. It was after the end of this family’s occupancy that a substantial portion of the adjoining land was sold for redevelopment and so Balnamore house became derelict.

    I was happy to learn that ‘in 2022, Balnamore House was sold for £200,000 in a cash only sale’. A lot of people were hopeful for the future success of Balnamore House, because it was said that the ‘new owners hope to restore it to its former glory’. That was, however, before the fire. Just 2 days ago – on Wed 5th April 2023, a fire devastated what was left of Balnamore House. The entire building was engulfed. The façade survived and the chimneys too, but by the looks of it everything that was left inside – including the staircases etc., were gutted. Roof and all, is gone now. The house stood there for nearly 160 years and was gone in just a few hours. The police and fire authorities are investigating its destruction as suspected arson. All very sad. But everyone hopes that there is enough there that it can still be saved. Perhaps it might be restored yet.

    1. Thank you William, we have updated the article with the missing pieces of information. We appreciate you taking the time to update us on this article.

    2. Peter Elliott

      Brilliant info William hope it gets kept and renovated and everyone keep posting on the latest please cheers

  2. Steve

    How long has it been vacant as we’re going to view next weekend

    1. Hi Steve, we’re not sure – definitely at least 10 years though.

      1. David Mcelroy

        Is there any offers on the house

        1. This is now sold 🙂

  3. Kerry Burgess

    I lived in Ballynamore House in 2000-2001. The house was in fantastic condition. It has many original features, it was clean, dry and damp free with everything working. I simply can’t believe how it got into this state. It was a wonderful house. Absolutely tragic.

    1. It has recently been sold so fingers crossed it gets restored. It must have been an amazing place to live in.

  4. Roy Joseph Maxwell

    Who is the current owner. They should be pursued, so that the house can be restored. It is of historic and architectural value. It could be used as a Hotel by extending it to the rear, but keeping a similar facade as that of the existing house.

    1. Alex Debrun

      Just burnt down. Sad times.

      1. Thank you, we have updated the article.

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