A fascinating family and fraternal archive has been handed over to the Orange Institution, after almost ending up in a skip.
Materials belonging to Larne Orangeman Samuel Milligan were discovered in a house that was undergoing refurbishment and looked set to be thrown away.
But a local builder contacted Orange Order Director of Services, Dr David Hume, to see if there would be an interest in taking possession of the items, as they included Orange and Black institution materials.
When the material was examined it was realised it was of greater historical value.
Dr Hume – a former Larne Times journalist – said that unique material relating to the now defunct Good Templars organisation and a wealth of family materials were included in the large box.
He added: “Two minute books from the Johnston Star Good Templar Lodge in Larne, as well as details about the Milligan family, such as certificates, letters and photographs, were all included.
“It has taken a considerable amount of time, but all items have been individually catalogued and what we are now calling the Samuel Milligan Archive will find a permanent place in our collection of documents at our Schomberg House interpretive centre and museum.
“I have an interest in the Good Templar organisation and the discovery of these two minute books in the collection, along with other Good Templar material, is fantastic.
“Samuel Milligan was also deeply involved in the Orange and Black institutions and there is a lot of material such as letters, invitations, cards and other items, with photographs which also help provide a unique collection from the Larne area.”
It is expected that at least some of the material will go on permanent display in the Orange Museum at Belfast, which is scheduled to open in April, 2015.
Other items may be included in temporary exhibitions and will also be accessible through the archives.
Dr Hume added: “We are delighted to have this material from Larne as it helps to paint a social as well as a fraternal picture.
“We have a unique and outstanding archive and this material is a welcome addition,” he concluded.
The Orange Order has received £3.6 million from the European Union to develop its two interpretive centres at Belfast and Loughgall.
The Peace III funding from the Special EU Programmes Body will result in an unprecedented level of outreach to the wider community, with the aim of explaining about the Orange Order’s heritage and culture.
The centres will be able to display an outstanding array of artefacts and documents going back to the 1690s.