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.
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.
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.
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
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
Down Heritage Centre
Down Borough Council