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New seafront panel on Carrickfergus Harbour’s link to historic gun-running boat

A new display is set to shine a fresh light on the history of Carrickfergus Harbour.

The residency in the late Sixties of the gun-running ship The Clyde Valley will be illustrated for visitors to the shorefront.

Somme group,  Friends of the 36th Ulster Division Carrickfergus, has asked Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for interpretation signage charting the significance of the role of The Clyde Valley in the fight against Home Rule and its berth at the King William Pier in later years, be installed.

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The Clyde Valley was docked at Carrickfergus Harbour from 1968 until 1969.

Carrickfergus

Following the request, the council brought in a marketing company to review existing signage which will be replaced with a single “interpretation” panel which will also feature history of the King William and Albert Edward Piers. The existing blue plaque will remain in place.

Blue plaques are installed to mark a historic link between a location and a famous person, event or building at the site.

The Clyde Valley was formerly known as The Balniel when it was built in 1886 as a coal boat for Wigan Coal Company before being re-named The Londoner and then The Clyde Valley.

It was purchased in Glasgow in 1914 by Major Fred Crawford, Quartermaster in the Ulster Volunteer Force, for £4,500.

The Clyde Valley sailed into Larne Harbour laden with weapons after changing course from Belfast and then making an onward journey to Bangor and Donaghadee.

The Clyde Valley was returned to Northern Ireland in 1968 from Halifax, Nova  Scotia, to a new berth at Carrickfergus Harbour following a fundraiser by Whitehead man Sam Campbell.

In 1969, Carrickfergus Borough Council requested that a new home be found for the historic vessel.

Speaking at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim’s Direct Services Committee on Tuesday evening, Carrickfergus Castle DUP Councillor Cheryl Brownlee commended the 36th Ulster Division Carrickfergus for its “hard work, research and initiative” with the project.

Cllr Brownlee also took the opportunity to request similar signage to commemorate Her Majesty’s visit to Carrickfergus in 1961 be installed in the town.

The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Matthew Armstrong, a Ballymena TUV representative, seconded the recommendation.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter

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