Menu
Allianz and Afloat - Supporting Irish Boating

Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Displaying items by tag: Bangor Bay

Today you couldn’t swim across Bangor Bay on Belfast Lough without skirting the Marina but from 1910 till the 80s the ‘Pickie to Pier’ annual sea swim saw many participants taking part in the 650-metre race from Skippingstone Beach, beside what is now Pickie Fun Park, to the then North Pier, now named the Eisenhower Pier, and back.

Now, in its Seaside Revival programme, the Open House Festival which runs in August every year in Bangor, the Pickie to Pier race is being held again, (in 2020 it is on July 4th) but sadly, the men’s prize, the Lyttle Trophy is missing! The ladies are lucky, however, as their prize is still intact. It is named the Connor Shield after a well-known old Bangor family.

So, the hunt is on for that trophy. Local businessman David McCullough won the race in the late 1960s when he was around 12 years old and remembers the trophy had three handles.

Picke to Pier swim winners 2019 Julie MCabe and Gary RobinsonjpgPickie to Pier swim winners 2019 Julie McCabe and Gary Robinson

The swim to the pier pre-dates the Bangor swimming club – the 18th annual swim was organised by Donegall Amateur Swimming Club based in Belfast. By the time Bangor ASC was formed, there were inter-club races to the pier featuring Wellington, New Alliance and Northern swimming clubs. BASC swam the route weekly, and the Pickie to Pier race carried on through two world wars but met its demise in the late 1980s when a new heated indoor pool was favoured to the freezing cold, jellyfish-laden waters of Bangor Bay.

According to one of the local librarians who has done some research, it is probable that 1918 was the 18th year of the race but no evidence that it started in 1910 could be found in the local press. The race did continue through WWII but there is a gap in the library reels from 1916 – 25 so those years cannot be checked. Generally, the race was run for individuals in a handicap system according to how good a swimmer they were – the faster you were, the longer you had to wait before starting off. There was also a team event for the Gamble Memorial Trophy.

Pickie to Pier poster re missing trophyPickie to Pier poster appeal for the missing trophy

Before Pickie Pool was built in 1931, gentlemen swam in that area and the ladies swam just below the large mansion called Seacourt in what was called ‘Ladies Bathing Place”.

Many people who did the race remember how cold it was, even in August; the horrors of being touched by the seaweed and stinging jellyfish as well as the distance, all presented a huge challenge. One of the competitors remembers the coal boat leaving harbour during the race, creating chaos. But what amounts to a questionable memory is that of a competitor who did the swim with a bottle of Olde English (an American malt liquor) in one hand and a Rod Stewart album in the other!

So if you can help please contact Caroline McCoubrey [email protected]

Published in Sea Swim
Tagged under

Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

Featured Sailing School

INSS sidebutton

Featured Clubs

dbsc mainbutton
Howth Yacht Club
Kinsale Yacht Club
National Yacht Club
Royal Cork Yacht Club
Royal Irish Yacht club
Royal Saint George Yacht Club

Featured Brokers

leinster sidebutton

Featured Associations

ICRA
isora sidebutton

Featured Webcams

Featured Events 2021

vdlr21 sidebutton

Featured Sailmakers

northsails sidebutton
uksails sidebutton
quantum sidebutton
watson sidebutton

Featured Chandleries

CHMarine Afloat logo
osm sidebutton
https://afloat.ie/resources/marine-industry-news/viking-marine

Featured Marinas

dlmarina sidebutton

Featured Blogs

W M Nixon - Sailing on Saturday
podcast sidebutton
mansfield sidebutton
BSB sidebutton
wavelengths sidebutton
 

Please show your support for Afloat by donating