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Ulster's Ships & Quaysides A Photographic Record by Ian Wilson, Robert Anderson

Ulster's Ships & Quaysides A Photographic Record


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Ulster's Ships & Quaysides A Photographic Record by Ian Wilson, Robert Anderson

Introduction: As an island nation we are still dependent on the sea, ships, seamen and our ports for the majority of the province's trade and commerce with Britain, Europe and the rest of the world. Some twenty years ago, in 1990, we collaborated to publish a volume of historical maritime photographs of how those ships, seamen and quaysides of Ulster appeared in pictures taken in the one hundred years or so between the advent of photography in the 1840s to about the end of the Second World War in 1945. Captured in a single volume for the first time were some of the stunning images we had discovered during our researches into Ulster's maritime history. From the great sailing ships and majestic liners of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, many of them the products of a burgeoning shipbuilding industry in the province, to the humble sailing vessels and steam coasters that served the many small ports around our coast at the time, we endeavoured to present an accurate and interesting cross-section of shipping of the period. Included also were impressive views of many of our busy ports and small quays showing just how important they all were to our trade and commerce at a time prior to road transport and of course air travel. The inevitable shipwrecks, groundings and incidents that occurred around the treacherous coasts were also recorded as were some of the colourful characters and more humorous moments of life at sea. Since that book was published we have become aware that the changes which have occurred between the late 1940s and the present time are equally staggering. As observers of, and participants in the maritime scene in the province, we have again cooperated to present what we hope is an interesting and representative selection of images and text reflecting the major changes that have occurred during the period and which we felt justified in revisiting. We hope you agree. Even the casual observer will have noticed the major changes that have taken place in the maritime scene. Ships are larger, faster and generally further away from public view, access to ports is more restricted, containerisation and freight trailers have become the norm and indeed that many of the small ports have declined or become redundant and no longer host commercial shipping. Ports and infrastructure have evolved whilst moving seaward. At Londonderry port facilities have moved several miles downstream to a new facility at Lisahally, Warrenpoint Harbour has been totally redeveloped and the Port of Belfast has not only grown in size but been moved closer to the Irish Sea on reclaimed land. We have witnessed the closure to commercial ships of places such as Letterkenny, Portrush, Introduction Bangor, Dundrum and Newry. Residential apartments have replaced ships at Carrickfergus and Killyleagh whilst trade has declined dramatically at Coleraine, currently the last surviving small port. The fishing ports have seen huge trawlers appear to compete internationally and the harvesting of mussels and other species has seen the introduction of new types of vessels around the coast. New technology in the form of wind turbines and tidal current generators are beginning to impact on our seascape and are even being assembled in the yards and slipways of Harland and Wolff who no longer build ships. Leisure boating and marinas have impacted enormously on Ballycastle, Glenarm, Carrickfergus, Bangor, Ardglass and many of the smaller harbours around the coast. The growth in air travel has also had an effect on our ports and many people now prefer to make use of abundant and relatively cheap air routes to Britain and the Continent rather than travel by sea thereby removing them from a traditional connection with ships and the sea. Routes to Glasgow, Ardrossan, Liverpool, Heysham Douglas, Oban and Campbeltown were, not very long ago, offered from a variety of Ulster ports. Those of us who prefer sea travel, or those who have no option other than to travel by ship, have become accustomed to crossing the North Channel now in journey times marketed in minutes rather than hours! Large, modern, high speed ships operate on just a few of the traditional routes, some of which are only offered on a seasonal basis. Gone are the days when men and boys could walk down a quayside to look at the ships, stand at a quayside and watch cargo being unloaded, banter with the dockers or run errands for the crew. This is something the authors can relate to and it forms an important part of our personal memories. In a relatively short space of time, security has become a number one priority followed closely with the obsession for 'health and safety'. The world has become a very different place in a relatively short space of time. Our selection of photographs generally record a connection with ships and the sea and a lifestyle which has gradually disappeared, almost without being noticed by the general public. The photographs we have used have been selected from a variety of sources including wellknown museum collections and little known private collections. The quality of the images do vary of course but have been used purely for their content and interest. Quite a few are appearing in print for the first time and some of the more recent digital images are stunning in their quality and detail. The captions are as factual as possible and are based on information researched by the authors from a great variety of sources. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the many people who had not only the interest but the foresight to record our ever changing maritime heritage and we hope that you will enjoy our selection of evocative images.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th March 2011


Ian Wilson, Robert Anderson

More books by Ian Wilson, Robert Anderson
Author 'Like for Like'


Colourpoint Books


128 pages


Ships & boats: general interest
Maritime history
Photographs: collections



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