HISTORIC TIMELINE

William Dargan constructs the first commuter railway line in Ireland between Dublin and Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire).

William Dargan

© Mary Evans Picture Library

The Belfast and
Ballymena Railway
Company (BBRC),
which commissions
The Gobbins path, is
founded.

The railway companies
organised excursion
trips to beauty spots like
Whitehead, where they
developed attractions to
lure visitors.

With the arrival of the steam train in the 19th century it became possible to move large amounts of people and goods in relatively short times.

Above
Boyne Viaduct, Drogheda (1878) by Henry Roper-Curzon (1822-1892)
Presented by Mrs Montgomery Bealieu House, 1948. Drogheda Municipal Art Collection, Highlanes Gallery

Construction begins on the Boyne Viaduct, an engineering marvel that completes the railway connection between Belfast and Dublin.

Berkeley Deane Wise, the
visionary engineer who
creates The Gobbins path,
is born in Wexford.

Below
The house where Wise was born in New Ross, Co Wexford.
Courtesy of Berkeley Forest House

BBRC, now the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway Company, extends the railway line to Larne, making it Ireland's major port for Scottish visitors.

Above
Company seal of the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway Company.
From The Northern Counties Railway by J R L Currie (drawings by J D C
Charlton and E N Calvert-Harrison)

BERKELEY DEANE WISE

The man who masterminded The Gobbins path

Following his apprenticeship on the challenging Bray Head Line on the coast south of Dublin, Berkeley Deane Wise becomes an assistant engineer with the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway Company at just 22 years old.

Above
The coastal line near Bray Head claimed two lives when this viaduct collapsed in 1867 - just a few years before Wise began designing bridges and tunnels on the same stretch.
From The Illustrated London News, 24 August 1867

Berkeley Deane Wise is appointed Chief Engineer of the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway (BNCR) and is soon designing new railway stations at Larne, Portrush, Carrickfergus and elsewhere.

Below
Railway Station at Portrush designed by Wise, around 1900.
Photograph © National Museums Northern Ireland Collection Ulster Folk & Transport Museum



Wise completes a scenic path with bridges at Blackhead. Was this the inspiration for his more ambitious path at The Gobbins?

Wise's dream is about
to be realised:

Work starts on
the first path
at The Gob

Above
Poster advertising The Gobbins from 1954.
Courtesy of the Hawkins family, The Rinkha



Wise's path is promoted as having, 'No parallel in Europe as a marine cliff walk'. Thousands of visitors testify to its unique appeal.

The Gobbins path is opened for the first time




Above
Postcard of Man O'War.
Courtesy of PJ O'Donnell

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The Gobbins path will be open for the summer season, Council Confirms.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has announced that the internationally-unique coastal path at The Gobbins will re-open at the end of June, just in time for peak visitor season.

The Gobbins closed unexpectedly last year, when extreme weather conditions caused higher levels of rock fall along the path. Council brought forward its programme of planned maintenance in the interests of visitor and staff safety, which it says are paramount.

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim , Councillor Audrey Wales MBE outlined what has been happening in Islandmagee over recent months: “We were very disappointed last year to miss our first peak season due to the unavoidable closure. Our visitor figures had already well exceeded our targets for the period and out feedback worldwide had been, and continues to be, extremely positive.

“The Gobbins is an outstanding natural and sometimes unpredictable attraction and the only guided adventure walk of its kind in Europe. Over recent months we have been working to dislodge loose rock through scaling and the majority of that work is complete. We have been looking at options for the areas around the ends of the bridges, to ensure that they aren’t damaged during the scaling process and we will now move to complete that element of the maintenance work.

“Council had budgeted around £2 million for its maintenance work, which included work to restore the access path following Storm Frank in 2015. We have spent about a quarter of the budget to date, so the next phase to get The Gobbins open represents a significant investment in growing local economy in Mid and East Antrim through creation of sustainable jobs and tourism. Mid and East Antrim has a fantastic range of tourist attractions, from Carrickfergus Castle to Slemish mountain and we have been committed, together with our partners in Tourism NI and Tourism Ireland, to promoting all our assets on a world stage.

“The Gobbins is so special within Europe. It sits within an area of Special Scientific Interest on account of its wildlife and habitats. It is one of the only mainland sites in Ireland where puffins nest and as such we will always be restricted by the bird nesting season. We will be unable to open a small section at the end of the 2 km path in time for June because of the environmental sensitivities within this area and the associated Planning restrictions, but we will work on those areas during the off-peak season later in the year. Seasonal opening will be a feature of The Gobbins going forward and will be necessary in order for Council to carry out its annual cliff maintenance work off-peak.

“We’re very excited to have a re-opening date confirmed. Booking lines will be open again early in May and we look forward to bringing people back to The Gobbins and to Mid and East Antrim for an exhilarating and exciting raw experience with nature” she said.

 

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