A bridge into the past at Coleraine...

The view of the Old Bridge at Coleraine, erected in 1716, and taken down 1843.
The view of the Old Bridge at Coleraine, erected in 1716, and taken down 1843.

If you love the Coleraine area and its rich and diverse history, then Coleraine Historical Society want to hear from you.

The new chairperson of the Society - which was founded in 1984 and meets monthly - is keen to see the interest in local history encouraged as well as attracting new membership.

“I have been a member for almost twenty years and active on the committee for many of those years, having previously held the role of secretary,” says Barbara Harding.

“As chairperson I am ably assisted by Chris and Diana Kirkpatrick who are treasurer and secretary.

“We also have an enthusiastic and supportive committee and would especially like to make an effort this year to raise public awareness of what we do.”

The Society holds monthly talks from September through to November, resuming in January through to May and with an annual outing in June.

Members meet in the Guide Hall behind Terrace Row on the third Tuesday of each month at 8pm and meetings are open to everyone.

“Anyone can become a member for an annual fee or attend as a visitor and pay a small charge on the evening. Tea, coffee and biscuits are provided at the end of the evening.”

Barbara says:”We have a healthy membership but would always like to see numbers increasing so if you think it might be of interest, please come along, you will be most welcome.”

The society also publishes the “Bann Disc” journal annually, usually in November and this year will see the launch of the 21st edition.

“For this we have to thank Jennifer Cunningham who has been editor of the journal since the beginning and who is such an authority on local history,” states Barbara.

“This year is the bicentenary of Waterloo and among the articles in the journal there will be one by Jennifer and another by me about local men who took part in the historic battle.”

Barbara was born and has lived in Coleraine all her life and says she is “fascinated by the social history of the area.”

“My interests include genealogy and I find that it goes hand in hand with the study of local history.

“I collect old postcards and photos of Coleraine and district and it is lovely to look at those images of how a place used to be and compare them to the present day.

“Businesses and buildings come and go, modes of dress and transport change; each picture gives an insight into a specific period in time.”

“I would appeal to anyone who has or comes across old photos of the town not to dispose of them but to pass them on to the Museum Service or to someone who has an interest in preserving the history of the local area.

“Since November last year I have been a volunteer two days a week with the small but dedicated team of Museum Service staff based at Cloonavin and am finding that both interesting and enjoyable.

“Please remember that if you love your area and its history we will be very glad to see you at our meetings.

“The first one of the new season takes place on Tuesday, September15 at 8p.m. in Coleraine Guide Hall.

“The subject is “Big Houses” and the speaker is Dr. Olwen Purdie.”

Other talks planned are an evening with photogapher Stanley Bate, called Here and There on October 20; War time advertising in Coleraine with Ken ward on November 17;

Under the Spanish Chestnut Tree with Jennifer Sturgeon on January 16, 2016; A talk on The Life of Richard Hayward by Paul Clements on February 16; and the AGM and annual dinner with talk by Alison McCaughan on March 15.