The little-known story of the efforts over the past 160 years to make the River Bann entrance safe for commercial shipping was revealed to members of Ballywillan Men’s Fellowship last week.
Speaker at the weekly meeting was Robert Anderson, former master mariner now harbour master at Portrush, who is the leading authority on the river, where he was skipper of the dredger Bar Maid for many years and later organised popular riverboat trips up and down the Bann for several summer seasons.
Robert is also a much respected local and maritime historian and has written a number of books mainly relating to the Coleraine area and including a history of Coleraine Harbour.
He explained how the centuries-old problem of a shifting sandbar at the river entrance got so bad early in the 19th century that the businessmen of Coleraine sponsored the building a new harbour at Portrush as an outport to Coleraine.
The scheme proved of more benefit to Portrush than Coleraine, however, and efforts continued to find a solution to the sandbar problem.
Robert went on to give a brief history of the harbour at Coleraine before telling the fascinating story of the second barmouth scheme which was launched in the 1930s due to the deterioration of the moles constructed some 60 years previously.
Speaker at this Thursday meeting of the Fellowship is Mr. Andrew Baird and his subject “Planet Solar”. Proceedings start in Ballywillan Presbyterian Church Hall at 10.30 with tea/coffee, followed by the talk at 11am