Historic Larne jewellers set to close after serving the town for over a century
The owners of a historic Larne jewellers have shared memories of its century-long presence in the town - including that of a ghostly visitor.
Pollock's Jewellers is thought to be one of the oldest establishments in the town, with roots going back to 1890.
Previously based in Cross Street, it moved to its current Main Street premises in 1937.
In 1979, the shop was taken over by Newtownabbey couple Anne and John Sproule.
“It’s a beautiful old building and there’s a lot of history to it - we still have the old cabinets in place from 100 years ago," said Mrs Sproule, who is retiring at the end of this month.
“We’ve had the shop for 42 years and before that, it was owned by Miss Pollock and her brothers, who lived above it.”
Over the years, the Sproules have seen generations of customers visit to buy wedding rings or have a watch repaired.
The mid-90s, however, saw a visitor of the supernatural variety.
“We had a ‘presence’ in the shop that would make noises, empty boxes and shift things about,” Mrs Sproule said.
The odd occurrences prompted the family to seek help from Canon William Lendrum, a Church of Ireland minister who became known for his exorcisms.
"Canon Lendrum came down to have a look; from what he could see, [the presence] looked like a farm worker - someone in old fashioned clothes.
“He spent a while talking to it, but after he was finished we never had any more bother.”
Canon Lendrum, who died in 2018, would later write about the experience in his book Confronting the Paranormal: A Christian Perspective.
Despite the unusual episode, the family’s time at the helm of the business has been largely a positive one.
On one occasion, Mrs Sproule recalled, a visitor to the shop burst into song - with fellow customers and staff soon joining in.
The owners also took pride in being able to help customers from across Northern Ireland, and occasionally further afield.
“We have had customers who came from Randalstown or Newtownards; we once had a customer from England who was about to get onto the boat," Mrs Sproule said. "He hadn’t been able to get his watch fixed anywhere but we were able to do it for him.
“I’m really sorry we’ll be going; we’ve had some lovely, very loyal customers over the years.”
Meanwhile, news of Pollock's closure was met with sadness on social media, with many former customers sharing their own memories of the jeweller's. One comment read: “Really sad to see Pollock’s close down. I got my wedding ring there in 1993 and I have my Granny’s wedding and engagement rings in their original Pollock’s box from 1935.”
Another added: “My late husband used to buy my earrings and other pieces of jewellery in Pollock’s. End of an era.”
Many took the opportunity to praise the excellent service they had received over the years, with Moranne Duddy noting: "On my last visit to Larne, I needed an emergency repair on my watch strap and the pleasant staff member at Pollocks fixed it for free!"
Another long-time customer, Patricia McKinley-Hutchinson commented: "The Pollocks were very fine people, so generous. The shop was a delight for myself as a young child to visit. When John and Anne Sproule took it over they immediately gelled with my late parents and myself. Nothing has been too much trouble for them to do and son Stephen has been an expert watch repairer too. The closure of this shop is sad for Larne ‐ exemplary, efficient, expert and very friendly service which will be missed."