Our meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of the month in the Sandel Centre, 6 Knocklynn Road, Coleraine BT52 1WT  at 7.30 p.m unless otherwise stated. There are no meetings in July, August nor December. Visitors are very welcome at all our meetings. Admission for non-members is £3.00 per head. This includes tea/coffee and biscuits after the meeting.



16 April 2019 – Ken McCormack on The Bruces of Downhill
19 March 2019- AGM, Dinner and Quiz

This will be held in the Lodge Hotel, Coleraine starting promptly at 6pm with the meal at 6.30pm. The after-dinner quiz will be conducted by John and Dorothy Moore. Guests are welcome. See NEWS section for report.

19 February 2019 – Billy Bones on Coleraine Pantomimes

In January 2018 our member Billy Bones gave a talk on Pantomime in Coleraine, however, it was a dreadful night with snow and ice so the attendance was low. Billy very kindly agreed to re-do his presentation.

He explained that pantomime originated in ancient Rome, sometimes with a single male performer.

Billy “fell in love” with pantomime and played with many of the local drama groups including playing the dame. He progressed to writing and directing, sometimes rehearsing in the Bann Rowing Club with performances in the Town Hall.

Billy had provided a display of programmes and newspaper cuttings for members to peruse.




15 January 2019 – Jeremy Lewis on the Riverside Theatre

Jeremy, who had been house manager of the theatre, gave a most interesting and entertaining account of its history.

An enthusiastic member of the Steering Group formed (1972 -76) to found the theatre was the vice-chancellor’s wife – Mrs Burgess.

Peter Morrow was the architect of the “new style” building which could seat 400 people. The auditorium had a flexible design. and there were good back stage facilities with state of the art air conditioning. The cost was £381,000.

The theatre was officialy opened in 1976 by H.M.Queen, however, the first planned production, “Dial M for Murder”, fell through and was replaced by a production of political sketches by 784 Company from Scotland.  Three full time staff and 150 volunteers help to keep the theatre going. The Archive contains publicity material and contracts for everyone who performed.


Speaker Jeremy Lewis and Chairman Geoff Warke


Chairman Geoff Warke, Speaker Jeremy Lewis and Mike Jones

20 November 2018 – Geoff Warke on the Princess and the Spinning Wheel


This was a fascinating story linking Castlerock to Princess Alexandra, wife of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII).

In 1876 Elizabeth Jane Greer of Springvale, Castlerock, married a famous author of schoolboy stories Talbot Baines Reed of London.

In 1885 the Prince & Princess visited Ireland on the royal yacht Osborne. In Belfast she visited linen factories and was attracted by an old spinning wheel. In London Elizabeth Reed hosted charity bazaars in Cannon Street Hotel. On returning to her original home Elizabeth purchased an ancient spinning wheel from McCurdy’s farm at Ballymaclary, Magilligan and put it into the bazaar.

On visiting the bazaar the Princess purchased the spinnning wheel for 3 guineas and it remained in her home Marlborough House.

*** 6 November 2018 – Bann Disc 2018 Launch

Volume 24, 2018 will be launched on Tuesday 6 November 2018 at 7.30 p.m. in the Sandel Centre, 6 Knocklynn Road, Coleraine. Guest speaker will be Claire Sugden MLA.

16 October 2018 – Geoff Warke on Portrush Mining District

This was a very well attended talk by members and visitors. Geoff, who worked for the Geological Survey for many years, commenced his talk with an overview of bauxite, coal, iron ore, lignite and salt mining in N.Ireland.

There are historical references to lignite working near Old Ballywillan Church from 1875 until 1920. Iron ore was the main mineral mined in the area around Portrush. The main producers were mines at Ballycraig, Ballylagan, Dunluce and Urbalreagh. Some bauxite and lignite mining took place particularly at Craigahullier. Most of the ore was shipped in small schooners to Cumbrian ports, such as Maryport, from where it was taken by rail to the iron and steel works at Barrow-in-Furness.

Old mines can be dangerous and the Department of the Economy which owns all abandoned mines in N.Ireland prohibit access.

Mike Jones gave the vote of thanks to Geoff.


18 September 2018 – Norman Thorpe on Coastal Defences

A good attendance for the first meeting of the season heard Norman Thorpe of the Shackleton Aviation & Space Museum, give an illustrated talk on RAF Ballykelly which was opened in June 1941. (It was 1 of 5 airfields in the area – Eglinton, Maydown, Mullaghmore and Limavady).

Liberators, leased from the U.S.A., were flown from the U.S.A. to the base by women. 3 Liberators crashed in June 1944. The base had a hospital outside the town at Cariecue.

The Derry/Londonderry railway line crossed the airfield with priority being given to trains.

The airfield was busy during the Cold War with Vulcans based there. 500 married quarters were provided and some staff lived in Portrush and Portstewart.

The base closed in 2008 and all but one building will be demolished.

Norman Thorpe, speaker, and Bill Wilsdon, treasurer

23 June 2018 (Saturday) – Outing

This year’s outing will be to Dunmore House, Carrigans, Donegal followed by St.Columb’s Park and Ashbrook House in Derry/Londonderry.

See NEWS section for report and photos.

15 May 2018 – Alison McCaughan on the 1718 Migration

Alison explained the reasons for the 1718 migration from the Dunboe area to America also the conditions they met on arrival. Presbyterians and Roman Catholics felt persecuted by the Church of Ireland to which they had to pay tithes. Poor harvests and famine were an incentive to the taking of a brave decision to sail in small ships (70 tons or less) on an 8 week journey. On settling in Maine many of the Dunboe people were not made welcome and their expectations were shattered by constant disputes over land.

In 1988 Alison published “Heath, Hearth and Heart – the Story of Dunboe and the Meeting House at Articlave”.


Alison McCaughan, speaker, and Joanne Kennedy, committee member

17 April 2018 – Ken Ward on 50 Years of the University at Coleraine

In his illustrated talk Ken told us that he arrived in the New University of Ulster in Coleraine from Durham in 1968 to lecture in the History Department. There he developed a degree in film and media studies. He explained the background to the establishment of the University – the Lockwood Report of 1965 recommended the site to be Coleraine rather than Derry. Interspersed with slides he showed short video clips of early events and personalities. The talk was well attended.

October 2017

AGM and Dinner 20 March 2018

See News for report

20 February 2018 – Keith Leighton on The Bann Rowing Club

Keith gave an interesting talk on the oldest sporting club in Coleraine – the Bann Rowing Club founded in 1841. He spoke about 2 men who had made huge contributions – Tommy Glen, cox, and Bobby Platt, oarsman, cox and coach who received an M.B.E. in 2012.

The boathouse was refurbished in 1992 and many female rowers joined. The 2012 Olympics featured Richard and Peter Chambers also Alan Campbell winning medals. A great boost for the Club which produced finance from the government. Several young male and female rowers are showing great potential for the future.

Keith explained the reason for no longer holding a Regatta. This was due to changes in the river.

Keith’s talk complemented the recent publication on the history of the Club – “The Champions of the Bann” by Ronnie Gamble and Keith Ferguson.

keith leighton1

Mike Jones presenting Keith with his gift

16 January 2018 – William (Billy) Bones on Pantomimes

Thirty members and visitors braved a cold and snowy night to hear Billy Bones speak on his time in Coleraine pantomimes. He gave a short history of pantomime and explained some of the traditions e.g. “goodies” enter stage right and “baddies” enter stage left also audiences are encouraged to participate verbally in the drama.

Billy was a fan of pantomime from a young age. He acted in Coleraine Drama Club, Killowen Parish Players and the Provincial Players, usually playing the “Dame”. Coleraine Town Hall was the eventual “home” of  the town’s Pantomime.

Billy worked with Ballymoney Literary and Debating Society, Portrush Summer Theatre and the Riverside Theatre in Coleraine.

A talented and humorous man.


Bones Anderson 1

Billy and Chairman Robert

21 November 2017 – Ken McCormack on The Mysterious Affair at Dunmore (in the shadow of Agatha Christie)

Our speaker related the story of a triple shooting which occurred in Dunmore House, Carrigans, Co. Donegal. The house was occcupied by Colonel Robert McClintock, his wife Jenny, their son William and his fiancee Helen Macworth. William had served in the army but had suffered severe spinal injuries from falling off a horse. On 24.9.1938 William, his mother and his fiancee were found shot dead.

A jury found that William had been shot by his mother when she was of unsound mind. She then shot herself as did Helen.

There are many unanswered questions in this case, hence the title “mysterious” being given to the talk.

Chris Kirkpatrick (Treasurer), Robert Anderson (Chairman), Frank McGurk, Ken McCormack

17 October 2017 – Geoff Warke on Talbot Baines Reed

Talbot was born in London in 1852 and was a frequent visitor to Castlerock where he married Elizabeth Jane Greer in 1876. He also saved his cousin from drowning there.

In addition to being in the type founding industry he became a writer of boys’ fiction and contributed to the Boy’s Own Paper and the Leeds Mercury. The former publication began in 1879 as an antidote to the “penny dreadfuls”. He wrote many books the most famous being “The Fifth Form at St. Dominics” (1881) which was later made into a film. Talbot died of tuberculosis in 1893 at the early age of 41.

In Castlerock Presbyterian Church there is a memorial plaque to his wife who died on 7 November 1930 aged 81.

Our member Geoff had a comprehensive collection of many of Reed’s publications on display for us. A most interesting talk on an author of whom many would not have known.

Geoff Warke with committee member Mike Jones

** Bann Disc Launch 2017 **

Bann Disc launch invite

19 September 2017 – Jay Nethercott and Dr James Weston on The Ulster Gliding Club


Jay Nethercott, James Weston and Chairman Robert Anderson

James Weston gave an illustrated history of the Ulster Gliding Club from its foundation in 1930. He explained the early methods of launch – bungey or catapult at various locations e.g. Tyrella Beach in Co. Down, Magilligan, Knockagh. In 1932 a glider cost £150. Heights and distances increased over the years. In 1938 a flight of 44 miles was achieved from Magilligan to Aldergrove. (Aldergrove is an out of bounds area now).

From 1965 – 1971 Long Kesh airfield was in use and by 1978 the Club had moved to its present site at Bellarena. The Club has a cadet scheme and flies people with disabilities.

Jay explained what should be taken on a long flight – sun glasses, hat, water, map,torch, phone, foam cushion to protect the spine on landing, food e.g. bananas, oranges. He had examples of glider wings and photographs on display.

The Club kindly donated 2 free glider flights to the Society which were won by ballot.


17 June 2017 – Outing

We will visit Sinclair Seaman’s Church in Belfast, The Gasworks Museum in Carrickfergus and then the Moravian Village of Gracehill.  Lunch will be in the Chimney Corner. See News section for report and photographs.