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.
For report and photos see NEWS section.
Over 50 people, members and visitors, attended John’s illustrated talk.
In 1848 the railway line came from Belfast to Ballymena and by 1853 there was a line from Derry to Coleraine’s Waterside Station. Portrush was becoming a popular holiday resort and the railway reached there from Coleraine’s Northbrook Station in 1855.Over the years the station had 3 platforms, a restaurant and a turntable. The building was mock Tudor on a red brick base. The kiosk, which was indoors, is now preserved in the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. The watertanks (used for steam train visits) and signal box are listed. Until the 1960’s a branch line existed to the harbour.
The coming of the University of Ulster to Coleraine secured the future of Portrush station which had been threatened with closure.
The refurbishment of the station is almost complete.
Over 50 people (visitors and members) attended our much loved speaker Ken and his talk on the Bruces of Downhill Castle.
The House was built in the late 18th century by the Earl Bishop and was occupied by 4 generations of the Bruce family some of whom were eccentric. It was destroyed by fire in 1851 and rebuilt by John Lanyon. The Bruces held the property until 1946 and the roof was removed in the early 1950’s. The National Trust took it over in 1980.
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.
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.
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.
(THIS WAS A CHANGE TO THE ORIGINAL PROGRAMME)
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.