The Golden Age of NI Telecoms (Nortel)
Did you or someone you know ever work for Standard Telephones / Nortel? It was the multinational telecommunication company based on the Doagh Road in Newtownabbey. The comms giant employed thousands of people from around Monkstown, Carrickfergus, Belfast and beyond. Arguably, Nortel’s presence in the area was a driving force that brought even more companies (and jobs!) to the Newtownabbey area. Nortel’s golden age in NI was between the 1950s and 1980s. The world was getting connected and Nortel was part of the process.
Nortel’s factory was reminiscent of the industrial revolution if reports are to be believed. It was bustling, very loud and filled to the brim with innovative (for its time) machinery. It was a different time. Many modern day Health & Safety practices were either ignored or did not exist. Despite how unusual we might think this is now, it was simply how it was back then. Regardless of laws and company policy, there was something else in the air: The unshakable work ethic of the working-class people of NI who got on with it on the plant floors of Nortel, striving every day to provide a comfortable life for their family.
In Northern Ireland, Nortel, affectionately known as The Standard, was viewed by many as a beacon of prosperity and an amplifier of a hard working culture. It was more than that however – the Standard was a home-from-home that sculpted many lifelong friendships. It may have had its controversies, but for many former employees, mentioning “Nortel” will do nothing but create a soft nostalgic smile prompted by fond memories.
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