History Through Postcards

The Court House

A HIstory Through Bangor Postcards

Alan McMullan is an avid collector of Bangor postcards and has amassed a collection of over 2500 in the past eight years. Working with other collectors and museums, including the Heritage Centre, Bangor, he has also compiled the only photographic index of Bangor postcards which currently stands at 3900 cards and their variations [Nov 2021]. From this collection he has compiled a history of the Bangor Court House from 1890 to present day.

c 1890 Card from Robert H McClure collection showing Abercorn Hotel and Quay Street with the Court House (then The Belfast Bank) in the distance. By this stage the Belfast Bank had already been there for 24 years (built 1866).

In this year, the Forth River Bridge in Scotland and the Albert Bridge in Belfast were opened, Vincent Van Gogh died, and Captain O’Shea divorced his wife Kitty and named Charles Stewart Parnell as the co-respondent.

1906 Publisher G. Lowden of London – crowds on the Esplanade.

In this year, The Royal Victoria Hospital was completed, Samuel Beckett was born, and Suffragettes disrupted the state opening of Parliament at Westminster.

1910 Publisher County of Saxony, Germany – crowds watching travelling pierotts (stock characters of pantomime and Commedia dell’Arte) performing on the bandstand.

In this year, the first public radio broadcast took place at the Met in New York, slavery was made illegal in China and the RMS Olympic was launched in Belfast.

1914 Publisher McBratney of Bangor – the original cattle market was at the promenade.  The bandstand is also clearly shown in its original position.

Meanwhile, Charlie Chaplin makes his film debut, Archduke Ferdinand is assassinated in Sarajevo and the First World War begins.

1915 Publisher Valentine of Dundee no 81519 – the McKee clock has now been erected and the bandstand moved to near Pickie.

Albert Eisntein’s General Theory of Relativity is published, Alexander Graham Bell conducts the first transcontinental call and the First World War continues.

1920 Publisher Millar’s of 115 Main Street, Bangor – from the bunting it is likely to have been taken around the 12th July celebrations.

The Jazz Age and prohibition began in the USA, flappers arrived, and large-scale adoption of automobiles took off. Against a backdrop of “The Troubles” in Ireland, the Government of Ireland Act passed allowing for separate parliaments in Northern and Southern Ireland.

1925 Publisher Eason – many of the buses left from the promenade terminus at a time when public transport was still the main way of getting around.

Mussolini came to power in Italy, James Logie Baird successfully transmitted television pictures and George Bernard Shaw won The Noble prize for literature.

1949 Publisher Milton, Woolstone Bros, London EC1. A view from the Royal Hotel side, with (other hotels) and The Belfast Bank at the end.

Meantime, Mao Tse Tung proclaims the People’s Republic of China, a 21-gun salute in Dublin ushers in the Republic of Ireland, the Berlin Airlift ends and George Orwell’s “1984” is published.

1956 Publisher E T W Dennis Productions, London – families enjoying the sunshine on the beach at the bottom of Main Street.

The Belfast Bank has now been replaced in 1954 by The Bangor Court House. Marlon Brando starred in “On the Waterfront”, Elvis Presley sang “Hound Dog, a new trend called DIY started as families improved their own homes and the mass vaccination of children against polio began. The Ocean liner SS Southern Cross is launched by Harland and Wolff. 

1960 Publisher NPO Dexter – a view through the Sunken Gardens.

Sam Thompson’s play “Over the Bridge” is first staged, the SS Canberra is launched in Belfast and Harry Ferguson (developer of the modern tractor) dies. The US sends its first troops to Vietnam, The Shadows release “Apache” and “The Magnificent Seven” and “Psycho” are the big hits in the cinema.

1972 Publisher Valentine RT 52.

Mary Peter’s wins Gold at Munich, Alex Higgins wins the World Snooker Championship, five White House operatives are arrested for a burglary at Watergate, a 3 day week operates to save electricity during the Miners Strike and The Troubles continue in Northern Ireland. Thin Lizzy release “Whisky in the Jar” and Don McLean “American Pie.”

1990 Publisher Whiteholme Ltd – the arrival of the marina in 1989.

Brian Keenan is released after 1574 days of captivity in Beirut, Ireland (led by David Feherty) win the Dunhill Cup in golf, Brian Friel’s “Dancing at Lughnasa” opens and Tim Berners-Lee creates the World Wide Web. Madonna released “Vogue” and New Order “World in Motion.”

Hope you have enjoyed this nostalgic trip over 130 years of the Court House and developments along the promenade.

If you have any old postcards of Bangor and the surrounding area, please contact me on alan.mcmullan@ukgateway.net.  I would also like to work with other collectors to enhance the photographic index.


Alan McMullan (with notes from Robert Lyle of Bangor Court House History Project on historical events/trends).

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