Letter writer asks: Bridge or car ferry for the Ards? (1962)

News Letter column inches have often been occupied by fascinating letters from readers.

The Strangford Ferry service pictured in November 2012. Picture: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press
The Strangford Ferry service pictured in November 2012. Picture: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press

And during this week 1962 Major W S Brownlow, DL, wrote from Portaferry addressing the controversy of whether or not the Ards should be “properly served by a bridge”.

Major Brownlow wrote: “Your readers may remember the ‘Battle of the Barrage’ when a storm of protest was raised in your columns about a proposal to dam the mouth of Strangford Lough.

“I, too, joined merrily in the battle and prophesied, before ceasefire, that once to project died and the outsiders interested only in various aspects of the lough’s amenities relaxed, no more thought would be given to the plight of the residents of the Ards who are cut off from the rest of Co Down.”

He continued: “ Unlike days gone by, one open motorboat ferry, manned by my good friend, George McDonnell, is our sole link to East Down. This comparatively small carries, apart from normal adult passengers and goods, 50 or so children attending school daily in Downpatrick, wholly exposed to wind, rain and snow”.

Major Brownlow noted that there were proposals to build a £13,000 swimming pool in Strangford and to provide a promenade in Portaferry.

He remarked: “I have never heard of more fantastic waster of public money. The site of the pool at Strangford would be next to the harbour, heavily shaded from the south by the Ferry Quarter trees. Even on the odd day in the odd three months when it might be used it would be cold and sunless.”

He added: “I have no idea what a promenade at Portaferry would cost but I do know that on the few days when it is warm enough to sit out on the few benches on the ample space of the quay are seldom occupied. My point, long overdue, is that it is high time that the Ards was properly served by a bridge (not a barrage) or a good car ferry, and that our council are prepared to squander vast sums on useless projects, it is time they took steps to make their slipways safe and hygienic and provide reasonable transport facilities for residents, schoolchildren and tourists.”