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16 October 2014
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The Bangor Boulder

A lump of rock which has been a meeting place for a Bangor community for more than a century has been saved from a developer's skip.....

The Bangor Boulder

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This boulder used to sit in Church Street in Bangor and some people called it the 'meeting place stone' as it was a focal point for locals in the Church street area of Bangor to congregate around for over a hundred years.

Picture of Tommy Shields in tropical kit taken in the Red Sea just before war was declared in 1939

Church Street Bangor c1905

Church Street , Bangor circa 1905, courtesy of the North Down Heritage Centre

 

Ex-councillor, Anne-Marie Foster said there was massive interest from local people in the history of the stone when she wrote an article for the North Down Over 50's Forum. When a property developer bought the land on which the stone lay, she, along with others, fought to save the stone and see its legacy maintained.

After the initial concern was raised about the future of the stone, the family who sold the land readily donated the stone to the Clandeboye Village Community Association, who in turn passed it on to the North Down Heritage Centre, at the town hall in Bangor.

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Brian O'Neill, chairperson of the Clandeboye Village Community Association, was one of the people who fought to save the stone. He vividly remembers sitting on it as a boy. Its main use to him then was as an aid to kissing girls - leading to another name for the stone - the courting stone. Although, Brian knows of the stone being put to many uses : cricket stumps, a rounders base, as a step up for people to mount horses and gain access to carriages and ......as a good old fashioned seat.

Picture of Tommy Shields in tropical kit taken in the Red Sea just before war was declared in 1939

The meeting place stone in  the North Down Heritage Centre

The courtin' or meeting place stone at its new home in
the courtyard of the North Down Heritage Centre

Brian believes its initial purpose was to stop stop carts knocking chunks out of gable walls. Over the years it became a meeting place for locals to pass the time over a yarn. Hence the location to be known as the meeting place stone. Indeed the developer of the area where stone once lay, has named the new apartment compel Meeting Place Apartments. The stone now sits in the courtyard of the North Down Heritage Centre at the Town Hall in Bangor. The Stone measures approximately one metre by three quarter's of a metre across and weighs almost half a ton. An initial attempt to move the stone resulted in a smashed trailer. A council JCB was called in to complete the move.

The stone's original location was at the junction of Church Street and Adair's Lane, the entry on the right after Croft Street. One Bangor character who used the stone regularly as an al fresco private bar, was a gentleman by the name of "nipper" who wore a Australian style hat and enjoyed a drink or two while perched on the rock.

Ian Wilson, curator of the North Down Heritage Centre in Bangor, is very happy to have the stone at the centre and sees the stone as a good example of how communities feel a strong need to reclaim their roots in a time when the past is disappearing along with the character of many towns. Ian is also intrigued as to the origins of the stone: was it, as he suggests, deposited here during the Ice Age ?

Mr Wilson plans to have a plaque made inscribed with a brief history of this unremarkable lump of stone which must hold so many memories.

Please get in touch if you have any meeting place stone stories. Use the form below to contact us.

 


RELATED WEB LINKS

North Down Heritage Centre

North Down Borough Council

 


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