From the pages of the Down Recorder, January 9, 1973

From the pages of the Down Recorder, January 9, 1973

9 January 2013

DOWNPATRICK — A 30lb bomb was hauled out of East Down Rural Council’s offices on the Strangford Road, Downpatrick, just minutes before it exploded early on Thursday morning.

The building did not suffer any structural damage, but many of the windows were blown in. After forensic experts carried out checks, the staff tidied up the mess and workmen repaired the windows.

Mr. Gordon Pentland, clerk, said: “It will be business as usual again tomorrow.”

A telephone call to the police at 10.25pm gave a 15-minute warning and when police checked the building they found a lemonade crate in the reception area.

At almost the same time as the warning was given to the police in Downpatrick, another call stated that there was a bomb at Ballynahinch police station. It turned out to be a hoax.

The bombers gained entry by knocking a hole in the glass-panelled door and opening the lock.

Evacuation of the nearby Quoile Hospital was not considered necessary and neighbouring householders were asked to move to the sheltered side of their homes. Firemen were alerted to stand by.

Bomb disposal experts arrived less than an hour before the 3.25am explosion time and hauled the bomb about 30 feet from the building when it went off. A second explosion about 30 minutes later was caused by the Army blowing open another door in the building they thought might have been booby-trapped.

CLOUGH — Three people were taken to hospital after an accident involving two cars at Moneycara Bridge on the Clough- Castlewellan road on Sunday afternoon. William Valentine, of Demesne Road, Seaforde, was driving his car out of the Drumcraw Road when it was in collision with a van in which two Galway men were travelling towards Castlewellan. All were released from hospital after treatment.

DUNDRUM — The Castle Vaults public house in Dundrum was blown up only a matter of minutes before a bomb disposal squad arrived. It happened on December 27 when a box containing a 40lb bomb was left inside the door and a warning was given shortly before eight o’clock.

The explosion did not occur until just after 11 o’clock. The building was wrecked and windows in many nearby houses and shops were blown away. All householders had been warned, but such was the long delay that a few went back into their homes. In one case children were asleep in a bedroom which was showered by glass.

The owner of the Castle Vaults is Mr. Michael Cunningham, whose ailing mother-in-law had to be carried from her bed. Next morning Mr. Cunningham and members of his staff salvaged whatever they could.

The front of the building, which was made dangerously unsafe by the blast, is being pulled down. But it’s business as usual in the ‘back lounge.’

CREEVYTENNANT — Police are seeking the drive of a vehicle which is believed to have caused fatal injuries to a pedestrian on the Ballynahinch-Carryduff road at the weekend. Mr. Thomas Spratt, a 44 year-old unemployed farm labourer, of Beattie Park, Dunmurry, was found dead by the roadside at Creevytennant early on Sunday morning.

NEWCASTLE — Newcastle Urban Council have deferred for a month considering of an outline application by the Hastings Hotels group to develop land at the Slieve Donard Hotel with frontage on to Golf Links Road and a road to the seashore. At a meeting on Monday night they decided to serve a notice of postponement on the applicant and the clerk is to have consultations on the proposal with the Ministry of Development. The Planning Officer had reported that he saw no objection in principle to the development.

BALLYNAHINCH — The Rev. Robert W. Courtney was welcomed to Ballynahinch Congregational Church at an induction ceremony held on Wednesday evening. Mr. David Cowan, chairman of the Congregational Union of Ireland, presided.

At a reception in the Memorial Hall afterwards, Mr. R. Gibson McKee, church secretary, extended a warm welcome to all and read apologies and letters of good wishes to the new minister. Mr. Ian Jackson made a presentation to Dr. J. Henry and the Rev. W. Thompson, who had been in charge of the congregation during the vacancy.

Solos were sung by Mr. Wm. Clarke and Mr. Edward McVeigh, after paying tribute to the work of Mr. McKee, made a presentation to him. Mrs. McKee was presented with a bouquet of flowers by Miss A. Magowan, who also extended a welcome to Mr. and Mrs. Courtney on behalf of the various organisations.

SHRIGLEY — Thanks to the generosity of staff at United Chrometanners, Shrigley, each of the children at the Manor House home, Lisburn, was given a Christmas present worth at least £3 and the matron was given 30 new pillows. The effort cost more than £150.

Each year the warehouse staff organise an event such as this and they are helped by factory staff in raising the money required. The only fund-raising function held is a whist drive. The benefactors by annual rotation are Manor House, a convent in Newry, a welfare home in Holywood and Rubane House, Kircubbin.

This practical way of showing kindness at Christmas began some years ago and now the organisation is a smooth running affair. At times like these in Northern Ireland such an act is doubly appreciated.

SAINTFIELD — A ten-lecture course on the local history and historical geography of the Saintfield district will begin in the local secondary school next Thursday evening. It will be promoted by the Queen’s University department of extra-mural studies in conjunction with the Saintfield lecture group. The lecturer will be Mr. E. M. Griffith.

DOWNPATRICK — Mr. Samuel Stewart, an executive member of the East Down Regional Savings Committee, has been awarded the MBE in the New Year’s honours list. He has been a member of the Downpatrick Savings Committee since it was formed in 1940 and was secretary from 1943 to 1970 when local committees were replaced by regional bodies.

Mr. Stewart has a lifetime interest in the participation and administration of local community sporting activities. His many interests include football, tennis, badminton and, more recently, contract bridge.