Report by Sandra Millsopp
Adam Bell gave an excellent talk to Bangor Historical Society on 11 October. He is now a museum curator in northern England, but has retained a great interest in Bangor where he grew up. He has long been interested in collecting postcard views of the town and has over 800 of them. He has now compiled a book,showing a selection of the pictures, together with the equivalent modern views taken with the help of the local camera club. The book, titled ‘Bangor Then and Now”, is due for publication in November.
The first view we were shown was an early picture of Bangor’s war memorial in Ward Park. He bought this in Blackrock, County Dublin and it was the first in his collection. He explained that the popularity of postcards grew in the late nineteenth century when the stamp cost half the regular postage and deliveries were frequent. The messages on the cards are very interesting and tell us something of the social history of the time. Then as now the weather was a popular topic.
Clandeboye House, originally known as Ballyleidy House was the next picture which Mr. Bell showed. He told us about Helen’s Tower on the estate which had been built by the first Marquis of Dufferin and Ava in honour of his mother. The Marquis commissioned poets, including Tennyson, to compose poems to be written on the walls of one of the rooms.
Church Street stands in an ancient part of Bangor and a postcard showed the view along it towards Bangor Abbey. It was published about 100 years ago by George Lowden who had a novelty store in Main Street. Single-storey weavers’ cottages lined the street. St. Comgall’s Roman Catholic Church appeared in another postcard. It was contrasted with a modern view where there were houses instead of fields opposite the building.
Bangor Castle was built by Robert Edward Ward in 1852. We were shown postcard views of the Castle and the area in front of it. Bangor railway station was built on the site of Hamilton Halliday’s market garden, but the original brickwork was covered in the 1950s and the building was demolished and replaced by the present one in the early 2000s.
Main Street was a popular subject for postcards and Mr. Bell showed a number of pictures of both upper and lower Main Street. Among the buildings appearing were First Bangor Presbyterian Church constructed in the early 1830s and the Northern Bank which once housed the Ward National Schools. The latter had a cupola or bell tower. Among the buildings in lower Main Street were James Conolly’s stationer’s shop, Scrabo House, and Hugh Furey’s shop, just below King Street. Mr. Bell also collects old bills and tickets. One bill was issued by David Allen’s butcher’s shop at 47 Main Street.
Another series of pictures showed Quay Street, including one with horse drawn transport and another of the Grand Hotel, later Barry’s amusements. Ward Park and the Carnegie Library also featured in postcards.
Paul McKay, the society’s recently retired secretary, proposed the vote of thanks for this very interesting talk.