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The VIllage

Memories of Main Street

David and Maureen Irwin recall the people and places that made Groomsport special when they first arrived in 1966.

Memories of The Manse

David and Maureen Irwin remember the Manse that was their Groomsport home from 1966-1991. They recall good times–and a big bonfire.

Escaping the PRam

Maureen Irwin shares her first memory of life on The Hill. She was daring and outgoing even in the early 1940s!

The village of Groomsport was first mapped by Thomas Raven in 1625, showing a number of houses near the harbour.  Several important buildings were built in the 19th century. These included the Watch House (1821), the Parish church (1842), the Presbyterian church (1843), the first National School (1845), Groomsport House (1848) and the Lifeboat House (1858).  In the latter half of the 20th century the village expanded with the building of the Springwell estate and other developments.  In the early 21st century, the Cove Bay development added about 150 houses  and the village now has about 750 dwellings.

THE PAST & PRESENT

Valentine Main Street 1903IMG_2902-scaled

Discover The Village

Raven Map of Groomsport, 1625

Sir James Hamilton commissioned Thomas Raven to map the lands he had acquired in 1604. The map shows that Groomsport was being used as a port 400 years ago. It shows boats in the harbour and a number of houses in the village.

0016 North Down Museum. Copyright Ards and North Down Council. Reproduced with permission.

Main Street c.1905

The public house, on the left, this side of the Maxwell Hall, is a single storey building. It was replaced by a two-storey building in 1906. It is therefore likely that this photograph was taken in 1905. (In the St Andrews collection it is dated as 1903).

0017 Valentine Postcard. Copyright status unknown. Image courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library, ID JV-41628.

If you have more information about this photo, please contact discovergroomsport@gmail.com, citing the title above.

Main Street - mid 20th century

 

This view of Main Street probably dates from the middle of the 20th century as a motor car and telegraph poles can be seen. The display of flags suggests that the photograph was taken in July.  The people on the left of the picture are standing at the top of the lane which led to the Cockle Row cottages.The building on the extreme left of the image was the Rocket House.  This housed a Board of Trade horse-drawn carriage which contained lifesaving equipment for the rescue of those in danger in the sea after shipwrecks etc.

0018 Photograph by Raphael Tuck Postcards. Downloaded, with permission, from: https://www.tuckdbpostcards.org/items/128505-main-street

First National School

The First National School was built behind the Presbyterian Church in 1885.  When it was replaced by the Second National School in 1895 it was converted into six dwellings. The building was demolished in the 1970s when the church was extended.  The artist painted the School House from the memory of her mother who lived in one of the six dwellings.

Find out more about the National Schools at: https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/National-Schools-v1a.pdf

0019 Painting by Christine Scholes. Reproduced with permission.

Groomsport viewed from caravan park, 1962

Gavin Perceval-Maxwell developed this caravan site in the grounds of Groomsport House. The Cove Bay development, which commenced in 2000, replaced the caravan site.

0020 Valentine Postcard. Copyright status unknown. Image courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library, ID JV-R-6329.

The Walter Nelson Hall

When the second National School (1895 to 1962) was replaced by the Primary School on Springwell Drive the building became the Presbyterian Church’s hall and was named after the Rev Walter Nelson. Although it has been extended several times, the original rectangular school building is at the heart of the hall.

Find out more about the Walter Nelson Hall and the National Schools at: https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/National-Schools-v1a.pdf

0021 Copyright: Dan Parsons. www.parsonart.co.uk

Groomsport House

Groomsport House was built in 1848 by John Waring Maxwell for his nephew and heir, Robert Perceval-Maxwell. Designed in the “Jacobethan'”style by James Sands, it cost £6,000 to build using sandstone from Ayrshire.  It was converted into apartments at the start of the 21st century.

Find out more about Groomsport House at: https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Groomsport-House-v3.pdf

0022 Copyright: Dan Parsons. www.parsonart.co.uk

Groomsport Parish Church

Groomsport Church was built in 1841 as a “Chapel of Ease” for Bangor Parish. The parish of Groomsport was created in 1853. The church was designed by Sir Charles Lanyon and was originally a simple rectangular building with a tower.  It was extended twice. In 1909, the chancel (on the left) was added in memory of Robert Perceval Maxwell and in the 1930s the transepts were added to create more space for the congregation.

Find out more about Groomsport Parish Church at: https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Groomsport-Parish-Church-v1.pdf
and
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Parish-Church-name.pdf

0023 Copyright: Dan Parsons. www.parsonart.co.uk

The Lodge

The Lodge was built in 1865, opposite the Parish Church, to accommodate the first rector of Groomsport. After he left the village in 1880, the Lodge was the home of Mrs Selina Perceval-Maxwell the widow of Robert Perceval-Maxwell’s eldest son, John. After her death in 1928 the Perceval-Maxwell family sold the Lodge.

0024 Copyright: Dan Parsons. www.parsonart.co.uk

The Maxwell Hall

When Robert Perceval-Maxwell built the Maxwell Hall in 1894, it was recorded as being a Sunday School. The Maxwell Hall has been the home of Groomsport Masonic Lodge since 1911. After the deaths of the Misses Perceval-Maxwell, who were the trustees of the Hall, in the 1920s, it was gifted to the Parish Church. The painting shows the original hall to which a number of extensions have been added over the years.

0025 Copyright: Dan Parsons. www.parsonart.co.uk 

Groomsport Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church was built in the centre of the village in 1843. The Clock tower was added about 20 years later and the church was extended to the rear in the 1970s.

0026 Copyright: Dan Parsons. www.parsonart.co.uk 

Groomsport House. ? Early 20th century

Groomsport House was built c.1848. In was the principal residence of Robert Perceval-Maxwell and his family form then until he succeeded his uncle, John Waring Maxwell, in 1869 when he moved to live at Finnebrogue, near Downpatrick.

This image appears to be identical to the image of Groomsport House in the Groomsport’s Masonic Lodge’s illuminated address to the Misses Perceval-Maxwell in 1911, thanking them for use of the Maxwell Hall.

0047 Hurst and Co. Fine Art Warehouse. Real Photo Series. North Down Museum.

Copyright: Ards and North Down Borough Council
Find out more about Groomsport House at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Groomsport-House-v3.pdf

Groomsport Parish Church

The photograph was taken before 1932 when the transepts were added to the church. The chancel (on the left of the photograph) had been added in 1909.

0048 Hurst and Co. Fine Art Warehouse. Real Photo Series. North Down Museum.

Copyright: Ards and North Down Borough Council
Find out more about Groomsport Parish Church at the following:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Groomsport-Parish-Church-v1.pdf
and
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Parish-Church-name.pdf

A motor car and charabanc near Glenganagh c.1914

The car and charabanc are travelling from Groomsport towards Bangor on what was then the main road.

0050 North Down Museum. Copyright: Ards and North Down Borough Council.

Shelters and picnic area, 1971

The shelters replaced the cottages that had been demolished on Main Street, opposite the Presbyterian Church. This area, which runs down to the harbour, had previously been the back gardens of the cottages. The shelters and boundary walls were removed in later renovations of the area.

0132 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

Groomsport Presbyterian Church 1967

The Rev Dr David Irwin (minister) is on the right and his predecessor, Rev Walter Nelson (Minister Emeritus) is on the right. The photograph shows the church before it was extended in 1971.

0131 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

Find out more about Groomsport Presbyterian Church at:
https://discovergroomsport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Groomsport-Presbyterian-Church-v1b.pdf

Beer delivery to the public house, late 1960

Beer barrels are being delivered to the pub by a cart pulled by draught horses. In the background, the last of the cottages on Main Street are being demolished.

0133 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

Groomsport Presbyterian Church – interior, 1971

This photograph is of the extended pulpit and choir area after the church was extended in 1971. On the wall is one of the first crosses displayed in a Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

0136 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

Groomsport Presbyterian Church – reopening and rededication, 1971

The reopening of the church was undertaken by The Honourable Brain Faulkner, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. In his youth, he and other members of his family were members of the congregation. The Dedication was conducted by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, Principal and Professor, the Right Reverend Dr James Haire.

Pictured left to right are; Mrs Maureen Irwin, Rev Dr David Irwin (Minister of Groomsport), Mrs Margaret Haire, the Moderator, The prime Minister, Mr John Pringle (Clerk of Session), Mrs Mary Faulkner, Mr Topping (Mayor of Bangor) and Mrs Topping. On the extreme right is Mr Jack Tomlinson (Architect).

0137 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

Groomsport Presbyterian Church reopening, 1971 – after lunch

Pictured after lunch at the Manse on Bangor Road are, from left to right, Mr Faulkner, senior, the Moderator, Right Rev Dr James Haire and Mr Brian Faulkner, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

0138 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

Village Fete, early 1970s

This event was held to raise funds for the extension of the Presbyterian Church and was the precursor of many similar events on the Holme Field – Groomsport’s village green.

0139 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

Rev Dr David and Mrs Maureen Irwin, 1977

Maureen Irwin opened the Grand Fete that was held on the Holme Field.

0140 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

Pony Rides at Village Fete, 1970s

0141 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

If you have more information about this photo please contact discovergroomsport@gmail.com mentioning the four digit number above.

Groomsport Presbyterian Church, Caravan Ministry. 1 of 2

For several years, each summer, the Rev Dr David Irwin, with a team of visitors, exercised a caravan Visiting Ministry every two weeks to 700 caravaners. They distributed leaflets of welcome and details of special summer activities and service times. This was so successful that the General Assembly inaugurated the Summer Student Assistantship (for those still at college) to serve with seaside parish ministers.

From left to right in this photograph, taken in 1987, are Sammy McCully, Rev Dr David Irwin, Edith Cowan, Maureen Irwin, Chris Looker (intern from Princeton University), Joe Crawford, Anne Buchanan, Pat Crawford, Shirley McIlwaine, Edith McIlwaine and Pat Jamieson.

0152 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

Groomsport Presbyterian Church, Caravan Ministry. 2 of 2

In 1983 the Moderator of the General Assembly, Rt Rev Dr Tom Simpson and his wife, Shirley visited the Caravan Ministry. Also in the photograph are Rev Dr David Irwin, Dr Betty Foreman (Clerk of Session) and, on the right, student assistant, Ms Helen Watson, later minister in Millisle.

0153 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

A Pageant – the history of Groomsport, date unknown

A dramatisation of the voyage of Eagle Wing, which left Groomsport on 9th September 1636 was part of this pageant. Standing in the bow of the ship from left to right are: unknown, Mary Holland, Maureen Irwin and Margaret McCready.

0154 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

If you have more information about this photo please contact discovergroomsport@gmail.com mentioning the four digit number above.

Pantomime “Sleeping Beauty”, date unknown

In this Turnstones Drama Group production, Maureen Irwin is centre stage in the role of the Good Fairy.

0155 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

If you have more information about this photo please contact discovergroomsport@gmail.com mentioning the four digit number above.

Pantomime, date unknown. 1 of 2

In this Turnstones Drama group production, Rev Dr David Irwin is playing the Baron and Eric Cairns is the Dame.

0156 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

If you have more information about this photo please contact discovergroomsport@gmail.com mentioning the four digit number above.

Pantomime, date unknown. 2 of 2

The final curtain call.

0157 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

If you have more information about this photo please contact discovergroomsport@gmail.com mentioning the four digit number above.

Pantomime, 1981. 1 of 2

Rev Dr David and Maureen Irwin perform a mime to “Who wants to be a millionaire?”

0158 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

Pantomime, 1981. 2 of 2

Rev Dr David and Maureen Irwin are cheered off stage.

0159 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

If you have more information about this photo please contact discovergroomsport@gmail.com mentioning the four digit number above.

Groomsport Presbyterian Church Manse, 1991

Groomsport Manse was built in 1881 on the Bangor Road, on the outskirts of the village. It cost £747 to build. It was the home of the ministers of the church from then until until the early 21st century.

0160 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin

Groomsport Presbyterian Church – farewell to the Irwins

Rev Dr David and Mrs Maureen Irwin are pictured on their last day in Groomsport. David Irwin was minister in Groomsport from 31st May 1966 to 29th September 1991. During that time, the congregation increased fron 200 to 700 and the church was extended three times. The Irwins left the village in response to a “call” from McCracken Memorial in Belfast.

0161 Photograph supplied by Rev Dr David Irwin and Mrs Maureen Irwin