Electricity first came to Larne in 1892 when
the "Larne Electric Light and Power Company"
installed two small AC generators turned by
belts from two steam engines.
Once transformed this gave a supply of 100
cycles at 110 volts. and at first was used to
power fourteen street lights and also a few
houses. The electricity was only available from
dusk until midnight.
Then in 1916 they changed over to a gas powered
engine and altered the supply to Direct Current
and for the first time gave a 24 hour service.
There later followed the building of two power
stations and increased generation until by 1939
the Antrim Electricity Supply Company was powering
about two thousand Larne customers.
What I find intriguing is that they started
by generating AC then changed to DC and finally
reverted to AC again. I am not "up" in these
things but would have thought Direct Current
would have come first. ("Discuss"!) . Mind you
when I first came to Belfast in 1962, part of
the city was still on DC and tape recorders
wouldn't work unless you used an AC converter.
FIRST IN THE WORLD The
drive-on drive-off cargo boats which came into
use at Larne in the late 1930's were the first
such ships in the world. These were the old
LMS steamers. (LMS is the London, Midland and
And talking of these steamers. Did the trains
used to go onto these boats and was there some
problem over the different rail gauges between
here and the rest of the UK? If you can help
with this query, see below as to how you can
contribute to this page.
is the ancient name for a Sickle, and
the Curran (note the change of letter)
area of Larne is a sickle shaped long
promontory which juts out into the Lough.
This Corran also appears on the top of
the Larne Coat of Arms.
16th century Olderfleet Castle
is on Curran Point. And it was near here
in the 50's that archaeologists discovered
over 10,000 worked flints. Such was the
distinctive nature of these flints and
also the way the people of the area traded
with those across the water in Scotland,
that the term "Larnian" was coined to
Occasionally it is still possible to
find flints on The Curran.
Whilst I am at Oderfleet, did you know
that Larne had quite a busy little ship
building industry in the early 1900's?
There were two companies that existed
for about thirty years around the time
of the First World War. One was the Olderfleet
Ship Building and Engineering Co. and
the other The Larne Shipbuilding Company.
They constructed quite sizeable craft,
up to 100 tons or more.
LARNE'S SQUINT In one
of the local churches (St. Cedmas, Inver) there
is a small window known as a "Squint". This
goes back to the days of leprosy when lepers
were kept away from the rest of the congregation
and had to watch the ceremony through a small
peep-hole known as a Squint.
JAMES CHAINE M.P. You can't
write about Larne without mentioning James Chaine.
He was the Member of Parliament for Larne four
times over. He has been credited with developing
Larne's short sea link with Scotland and was
also responsible for giving the town its lovely
park beside the lough which bears his name.
The Chaine's quay is named after him too, for
as Harbour Master he was deeply involved with
the harbour and was responsible not only for
encouraging shipping trade with Scotland but
also for bringing the American Liners to Larne
when plying their way across the Atlantic.
Chaine Memorial Tower
Ferry passing Chaine Tower.
His most famous memorial is the granite
replica round tower built in 1888 to commemorate
him. It can be seen on the shoreline at
the entrance to Larne Lough. The tower
is 92 feet high.
As we took this photo, so this huge ferry
passed majestically by, on its way to
Scotland. How thrilled James Chaine would
have been to see such a sight.
Although hard to read now, the plaque
above the door to the tower explains that
the monument was erected by the...
"....contributions of every class in this
mixed community irrespective of creed or party,
all cordially united in esteem and affection
for the Memory of JAMES CHAINE of Ballycraigy
and Cairncastle Co. Antrim who represented this
County in the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain
and Ireland from February 1874 till 4th May
1885 when his early and lamented death in his
44th year of his age deprived his native County
of one who had worked indefatigably for its
interests especially in developing and improving
the natural capabilities of the harbour of Larne
and establishing its connection with Great Britain,
the United States of America and with the inland
parts of this County, (This might also be
the longest single sentence ever written on
Buried Upright. He died when
he was only 44 years of age, but where is he
buried?. Or more interestingly how is he buried?
For there are two tales associated with his
tomb, both of which say that he is buried in
an upright position. One suggests that he is
buried upright within this memorial tower, whilst
the other says that he is buried, still resplendent
in his yachting clothes, in the cliffs above
Larne, upright and looking out to sea. Somehow
I don't believe either suggestion but who am
I to dispel a good myth. Any ideas? See below
for how to contribute to this debate.
KILWAUGHTER CASTLE GATES
Kilwaughter Castle Gates
About three miles west of Larne are the
ruins of Kilwaughter
Castle (In private ownership and
not open to the public) . It was designed
by John Nash, the same man who designed
Regent's Street in London. His work on
the Kilwaughter site included this fine
Now, as you see, the wrought iron gates
have gone leaving only the octagonal pillars.
The driveway is practically enveloped
by mother nature with only a small pathway
beneath the tangled trees and bushes.
But it wasn't always thus.
As we were taking this photograph we met an
elderly local man who told us of their importance.
Apparently the Agnew family lived in Kilwaughter
Castle in the 1800's and, amongst other things,
they were the tax collectors for the County
of Antrim. So through these gates, once a month,
would emerge the stagecoach, setting out for
Dublin and carrying all the taxes of the good
folk of Antrim.
MIGRATION FROM LARNE
Being a harbour, it is not surprising that
from here many Ulster people set off for America.
Perhaps the first such boat was the "Friends
Goodwill" which left Larne for the four month
journey in 1717.
These were to be the first of thousands of
such brave families setting out into the unknown.
In 1992 a poignant sculpture to these
first emigrants was unveiled in Curran
Park, Larne, by Professor Bobby Moss of
The statues show the family group preparing
to leave. Under her arm, Mother carries
the precious family bible, which in those
days often had the family tree written
inside. The boy carries his shoes so as
not to wear them out.
(Footnote. Unfortunately this public
park is not open to the public until 2pm
each day so we had to wait to take this
photo until that time. Then the gates
were unlocked for us, and together with
several other visitors, we were allowed
(Can you help satisfy Brian's curiosity? If
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