Mill Row street signI first came across the name Beehive Hotel in newspaper advertisements from the late nineteenth century and on a map of the same period. It stood at the corner of Main Street and Mill Row. Marcus Patton, writing in 1999, dated the existing building to about 1890, but there must have been earlier buildings on the site.

WC Seyers in his memoirs of a boyhood in 1860s Bangor, recalled that on a gable looking up Main Street were the words "Eagle Hotel". He recorded that Mrs Brown had a spirit grocery business there. According to Seyers it was later a public house owned by James Russell and later still by David Major.

By the late 1870s Samuel Gill leased nos. 1-3 from Robert Edward Ward, while James Russell and later his widow Agnes retained No 5. According to a directory in 1878 Samuel ran the Sea View Hotel in Main Street. This is the only occurrence of the name I have come across. The name suggests a hotel within sight of the sea, so it was almost certainly our hotel. Mr Gill was still a lessee of the premises in 1883.

In 1885 Margaret McKenzie applied for a transfer of the spirit license at the Newtownards Quarter Sessions. She must have changed the name, as in the following year she advertised the Beehive Hotel, for auction, as she was moving to Scotland. According to the advertisement there were numerous bedrooms, sitting rooms, a first rate bar and stabling for ten horses. This may be an exaggeration since the premises do not seem to have been very large. The purchaser, who got a lease for 14 years, was Hannah Gardner. In 1886 she was granted a transfer of the spirit license for 1 Main Street.

Corner of Main Street and Mill Row

In 1895 the Beehive Hotel was once more advertised for auction as Mrs Gardner was moving to the city. There was a shop as well as the hotel premises in the "best business part of Bangor".

In 1897, according to a directory, Charles McCaddan was running the Yachtsman. Patton identifies this as the two-storey, six bay building erected about 1890. By the time of the census in 1901 Robert McNeill had a public house on the site, where he lived with his family and two servants. The premises were still called the Yachtsman Hotel.

By 1916 Walter Brownfield owned the premises at Nos. 1-3 Main Street. In 1969 an article by Harry Andrews, one of a series on old Bangor in the County Down Spectator, featured an early photograph of the premises with a sidecar in front and the name Yachtsman on the building. He recalled that it was owned by Mr Brownfield. Then in the 1930s John McCormick had a grocerís shop there. By the 1990s Kentucky Fried Chicken occupied the shop at the corner.

Corner of Main Street and Mill Row

Finally in the early twenty-first century the building was demolished so that the Flagship premises could be extended. Now the site is occupied by the gaming firm Oasis. I remember that the County Down Spectator reported the demolition and the fact that it revealed cellars which ran under the pavement in Main Street. These had to be filled in before the new building was erected. I was too late to see the interior of the cellars but was able to take photographs of the site showing the flattened building and the filled in cellars.

The story of the Beehive illustrates some of the features of Bangor hotels and public houses - the regular changes of name and owner and the involvement of women in the trade.