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3rd August 2023

Leading urban regeneration expert, Wayne Hemingway, has expressed unwavering optimism

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Stella Kontogianni (AECOM), Wayne Hemingway (Hemingway Design), Stephen Reid (Chief Executive of Ards and North Down Borough Council) and Luis Juarez Galeana (AECOM).

Leading urban regeneration expert, Wayne Hemingway, has expressed unwavering optimism about the transformative potential of the multi-million redevelopment schemes planned for Bangor. As an international designer who has played a crucial role in shaping projects like the £50m Queen's Parade and £78.2m Bangor Waterfront developments, Hemingway was keen to dispel any doubts about the city's future during his recent visit to the borough.

Hemingway's impressive portfolio includes transformation projects across the United Kingdom, in cities like London, York, Crewe, and Margate in Kent. He is known for advocating a departure from the outdated High Streets filled with chain stores and consumerism, in favour of revitalizing town and city centres through culture and social gatherings, with a focus on independent-style shops.

The 62-year-old designer praised Bangor's favourable location and stunning natural surroundings, along with its well-preserved built heritage, singling out the recently rejuvenated Court House as a prime example. An avid runner, Hemingway expressed his fondness for staying in Ballyholme and relishing runs along the scenic coastal path.

In terms of town centres' decline, Hemingway asserted that the blame cannot be placed solely on local councils. He pointed out that the shift towards consumerism in the 1980s and 1990s led to the neglect of the social and cultural aspects that historically defined town centres. He emphasized the need to restore the cultural side of city centres, providing spaces for social interactions, dining, and music, even if it means reducing the number of traditional shops.

Hemingway lauded the younger generation for their more sustainable attitudes and lifestyle choices, contrasting them with the excesses of the past. He drew attention to successful transformations in towns like Shrewsbury, Margate, and Hebden Bridge, which have embraced independence and cultural experiences while distancing themselves from chain retailers.

Regarding concerns about the redevelopment schemes, Hemingway reassured the public that the projects would indeed be executed, but they would require careful planning and a gradual process. He urged patience, emphasising that such ambitious endeavours take time and public input to ensure success.

As Hemingway envisions a brighter future for Bangor, he believes the city will gain recognition and attract visitors once the schemes are completed. He predicts the emergence of boutique hotels and Airbnb's as Bangor's appeal grows, and the idyllic solitude of running along the coastal path will become a thing of the past.

With Wayne Hemingway's expertise and unwavering confidence, Bangor's transformation promises to be a captivating journey toward a vibrant and culturally enriched city, drawing both locals and tourists to experience its newfound charm and allure.

Ards and North Down Borough Council will be receiving £40 million in funding for its Bangor Waterfront Development as part of the Belfast Region City Deal.

Image of Bangor Co Down waterfront on a sunny day with bright blue sky.

The news comes a year after UK and NI Executive Ministers signed the first ever City Deal for Northern Ireland in December 2021.  

The Belfast Region City Deal unlocks £1 billion of co-investment that will deliver more than 20 highly ambitious projects and programmes, create up to 20,000 new jobs and make the region a global investment destination over the next decade.  

The highly ambitious Belfast Region City Deal (BRCD) represents a new way of working between central and local government and regional partners. The UK Government and NI Executive have each committed £350 million and partners a further £150 million toward the shared vision of inclusive economic growth that delivers more and better jobs, a positive impact on the most deprived communities and a balanced spread of benefits across the region. 

The Bangor Waterfront Redevelopment represents an investment of circa £73 million in a 2-mile stretch of the city’s coastline. It will connect the city to the sea through a range of sustainable, world-class visitor and leisure attractions/experiences. With £40 million funding now secured, work can begin to deliver this ambitious 10-year plan, regenerating existing assets including Bangor’s 5 Gold Anchor Marina, the popular family attraction, Pickie Fun Park, as well as significant development and improvement of public spaces. This will deliver on a vision for Bangor agreed by local stakeholders in 2018 – to make Bangor a ‘destination of choice’ to live, work, study and invest in.

There are also plans to deliver a ‘Phase 2’ to the recently opened Court House music venue in Bangor that will include new event and performance spaces and to develop an international watersports facility at a new-look Ballyholme Yacht Club and Watersports Centre. This combination of funding and investment will transform and future-proof Bangor, delivering a significant boost to tourism and encouraging further investment. 

The Mayor of Ards and North Down, Councillor Karen Douglas, said: “This is a significant milestone to an exciting new future for the City of Bangor. As the programme of works rolls out over the next 10 years, this redevelopment of the waterfront will bring benefits and opportunities to residents, businesses, and to the wider Borough as a whole. I am very much looking forward to seeing Bangor firmly back on the map as a place to live, work and visit.”

Gerard Murray, Director of the Department for Communities’ Regional Development Office, said: “The Department for Communities is working closely with Ards and North Down Borough Council to support the development and delivery of the Bangor Waterfront Project supported by the Belfast Region City Deal.

“The agreement of the Contract for Funding is a significant milestone and an indication of the excellent collaboration between central and local government to deliver this exciting project. With the recent planning approval for the regeneration of Queen’s Parade by Bangor Marine, this really is an exciting time for the City. Bangor’s residents and visitors can look forward to a revitalised Waterfront reconnecting the city to its marine heritage and re-establishing Bangor as one of our premier tourism and leisure destinations.”

Having received confirmation of funding, the Council will now work through a series of stages as detailed below before any construction begins on the Bangor Waterfront Development.

  • Procure consultants to develop design proposals  
  • Engage and consult with the public and stakeholders   
  • Secure planning and other statutory approvals   
  • Develop detailed technical designs and specifications for construction  
  • Procure a building contractor   

Pickie Fun park pedalo swans

financed partly by Belfast City Deal investment

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The Bangor Waterfront Development is an ambitious proposal to redevelop a two-mile stretch of the seafront (from Skippingstone beach to Ballyholme beach) with the aim of re-establishing Bangor as a thriving town and prime visitor attraction in Northern Ireland.  This will provide opportunities for the wider borough as more people choose to explore the area and, particularly, our local coastline. 

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Key elements of the scheme include the redevelopment of Bangor Marina, development of a “Bangor by the Sea” attraction, new greenways and coastal paths linking people, place and sea, reimaging Ballyholme beach and creating new artwork and public realm. Not only will this work enhance the attractiveness of the area and support wider regeneration, but it will create a new destination, encouraging more visitors and residents to enjoy the captivating coastline in new and different ways.

    Video Presentations

Promotional video for Ards and North Down Borough Council & Bangor Marine outlining key features of Bangor's redevelopment programme. (videography by Gary McCormick)

Wayne Hemingway - Bangor Regeneration Renewed Ambition Webinar

Importance of the City Deal Project for Bangor Seafront (Part 1)

Importance of the City Deal Project for Bangor Seafront (Part 2)

Wayne Hemmingway Discusses the Regeneration of Bangor

Bangor Marina

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Bangor Marina is the largest 5-star marina development on the Island of Ireland, which attracts a considerable amount of vessels and has achieved Blue-Flag status. Some of the associated infrastructure is critical for the Marina to operate safely and effectively and cannot be moved, however a level of redesign will enable us to increase the number of seafaring visitors to Bangor and to open up the space, making it easier for people to enjoy the sea views. Our proposals recommend redeveloping Bregenz House as a mixed-use development in a new cluster with iconic and high-quality architecture. The redesign will include additional public access with dropped boardwalks, seating and viewing areas and the opportunity for cafés/ restaurants integrated into the Marina. There is also an opportunity to integrate with the plans for the private sector-led Queen’s Parade development, to create a new marine gardens with formal and informal spaces for events and activities, further supporting the leisure and creative sectors within Bangor.

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Pickie holds a host of great memories for families from the Bangor area and beyond.  The giant Pickie pedal swans have become an iconic feature on the Waterfront landscape.  With some enhancements and new features we think it can continue to attract and delight families for many more years to come.

We are proposing the development of new all-weather attractions for both children and young adults, and feature landscaping so it better integrates with the new public realm along the coastline.

An extension to the Pickie Puffer (train ride), that will take visitors from Pickie to the Queen’s Parade area is also part of the proposals.

Kingsland/Ballyholme Yacht Club & Sports Centre

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We believe this peninsula affords the opportunity to create a state-of-the-art destination for sports, accommodation and relaxation; a waterfront park to rival the best in Europe. It is home to Ballyholme Yacht Club (BYC), which has been identified as the preferred location within Northern Ireland for major sailing and watersports events by the Royal Yachting Association. The redevelopment of BYC would provide Bangor with a world class facility for water sports and the ability to host international events. Supporting this, we propose to enhance the area as a hub for residents and visitors alike.  We envisage waterfront tourism accommodation pods, café kiosks, and a skate park (now an Olympic sport) set in landscaped gardens. There is also potential for a small cluster of high quality residential development to the south of the area.

The Music Hub

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The creativity of its people, from earliest times to present day musicians and producers, is a key part of Bangor’s DNA. The borough inspires and supports many key influencers within the music industry including Van Morrison, Snow Patrol, Two Door Cinema Club, Foy Vance, Hannah Peel and Lowden Guitars. Ards and North Down is also home to several successful companies involved in TV/film music production.

Independent charity, Open House, has ambitious plans to regenerate Bangor Court House as a permanent home for the Open House Festival and a much-needed multipurpose venue serving the town. Through grants and crowdfunding activity, Open House had secured the funds for their plans, which we can describe as Phase 1.

Having considered a range of options for a music hub as part of the Waterfront Development, we are proposing further developing and building on the Open House plans to create a Phase 2. This will see the capacity of the building double in size to include additional event and performance spaces and creative work spaces that will further ensure the sustainability of the venue as a significant music and creative hub for the Borough.

Public Realm

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Bangor’s coastline and stunning sea views have been referenced time and time again during our consultations as the town’s most significant selling points – but they should be enhanced sympathetically, sustainably, beautifully and in ways that people of all ages can have the opportunity to embrace and enjoy them. We recognise that and so propose to make a significant investment in new public realm features along this 2.2 miles stretch, making the everyday spaces that people move through, and linger within, as attractive as they can be; ‘instagram-able’ to use today’s social media language. Travelling from Skippingstone in the west to Ballyholme in the east (or vice versa) should be a real voyage of discovery and we intend to use creative signage, pathways and artistic features to encourage more people to enjoy the journey. Particular attention will be given to:  Skippingstone Beach  (multi-use pods for beach activities, accessibility features, feature lighting/benches),  Kingsland  (café kiosks,  skate park) and  Ballyholme  (watersports opportunities, feature lighting/ surfacing.

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Bangoreans loved sailing and paddling canoes made locally

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Bangoreans venerated their canoes and canoe makers a century ago. The motorboat was the newest fad for those who loved speed and the smell of gasoline, but the ancient canoe, invented by Native Americans using native materials, had deeper meaning. By then, canoes manufactured commercially in the Bangor area were famous the world over.

Evan H. Gerrish, described in the Bangor Daily Commercial on June 24, 1911, as “the pioneer canvas canoe builder of the world,” had operated a canoe factory in Bangor until a few years earlier when he sold it. He was still in business at his farm in Cardville. (The Bangor city directory for 1911 says Gerrish had an address in Bangor and a canoe business in Costigan.)

He had recently completed a noteworthy order from the U.S. government. “Carefully sewed up in burlap with large walls of excelsior in between to prevent their being chafed on their long journey, four canvas canoes recently started from Old Town across the continent en route to Alaska. They had been ordered by the United States government for geological survey work,” stated the newspaper. “They are built extra strong, painted a dull slate drab — not unlike the war paint of a battleship.”

Gerrish is credited as “the earliest commercial builder of wood-canvas canoes,” by Jerry Stelmok and Rollin Thurlow in their book “The Wood & Canvas Canoe.” Exasperated by leaky bark canoes, Gerrish, a Brownville hunting and fishing guide, moved to Bangor in 1875 and started a small business manufacturing fishing rods and canoe paddles. He also started experimenting with wood-canvas canoes. By 1884 he was producing 50 canoes annually. Stelmok and Thurlow’s book is a good place to get a few more details about Gerrish and other earlier builders, but much has been lost with time.

I checked the city directories and found several other canoe builders listed in 1911. They included Martin S. Jameson in Brewer, the B.N. Morris Canoe Co. in Veazie and, in Old Town, the Carleton Canoe Co., Old Town Canoe Co. and E. M. White & Co. The Industrial Journal in 1910 mentions another Bangor canoe maker, C.B. Thatcher, who manufactured 10 canvas canoes that year. I’m sure there were many others who didn’t advertise, including Indian builders, whose work inspired the interest in canoeing in the first place.

The Old Town Canoe Co. became the premier manufacturer thanks to the owner’s business acumen and aggressive advertising. A year or two later, the company built four- and five-story additions to its factory, enabling it to produce hundreds of canoes a month, according to Stelmok and Thurlow.

This was the era of exclusive clubs. People formed them for just about any reason so they could celebrate their exclusivity. In Bangor, clubs grew up along the river, celebrating both canoes and motorboats — the Conduskeag Canoe and Country Club in 1900, located in Hampden but intended mainly for well-off Bangoreans, and the Bangor Yacht Club in 1908, located just below the Tin Bridge near the Bangor-Hampden line.

The advent of the sailing canoe, noted in the newspapers around this time, was an example of how the simple canoe was evolving into a more complex recreational vehicle. “Not the least fascinating of the summer sports indulged in by Bangoreans is that of sailing a canoe and scores of those trim little craft may be seen skimming over the surface of lakes and ponds almost any afternoon now,” the Commercial reported on July 13, 1911.

In most instances, a “leg of mutton sail” was used and a “lee board thrown over the side to prevent the canoe from sliding off too much. A paddle is used as a rudder and it is surprising how close to the wind these sailing canoes can be held,” wrote the reporter. “Not much more than a breath of wind is needed to send them skipping along over the glassy surface of the pond.”

Many of the sailing canoes, according to the newspaper, were fitted out with a movable centerboard, “the invention of a Bangor man, John H. Lyon.” I checked out Lyon’s obituary on March 12, 1941, and found he was a member of the “Canoe Club” and ran C.A. Lyon & Co., which sold carpets and draperies. There was no mention of Lyon, the inventor, however.

This centerboard was “equipped with two arms of iron which are bolted through the gunwale and hold the board firmly in place. By unscrewing four nuts and removing a like number of bolts, the centerboard may be removed while the canoe is still in the water.” These rigs would “sail like witches,” but it was a good idea to stay ashore when it was windy, unless the canoeist was skilled. Many sailing canoes were seen on the river as well as in the ponds, but the current, the limited maneuverability and the frequent lack of breeze posed problems.

Sailing canoes were in use by members of the Conduskeag Canoe and Country Club at least as early as 1908 when a Commercial reporter, on Sept. 28, described “a new sport” for which several owners were using “canoes equipped with sails and leeboards.” A new class of sailing canoes called “canoe yawls” was expected the next season. These “yawls” were double-ended, with centerboards and leg of mutton sails and jibs and small cockpits.

The only sailing canoe I’m personally familiar with dates from the time many years ago that my son and I cruised down Chesuncook Lake before a stiff breeze, grasping a second canoe sailing along beside us with one hand and the corners of a square sail with the other. This sail was either a tablecloth or a plastic tarp that carried us swiftly along without benefit of paddling. I’m sure the arrangement wasn’t as technologically sophisticated as the sailing canoes used at the Bangor Yacht Club in 1911, but the experience is fun to remember.

Wayne E. Reilly’s column on Bangor a century ago appears every other Monday. An illustrated collection, “ Remembering Bangor: The Queen City Before the Great Fire,” is available where books are sold. Comments may be sent to him at [email protected] .

More articles from the BDN

Ballyholme Yacht Club

Bangor Regatta – 27th-30th June 2024 (RUYC)

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Bangor Regatta is the new name for Bangor Town Regatta which took place in 2018 and then due to COVID-19 in 2022. 

Our 2022 event had 60 yachts of various sizes spread across IRC, NHC and coastal races to name but a few. As well as this we had a fantastic social programme at RUYC club house.


  Calling all yacht owners!

Does your yacht have a keel?

Are you free between 27th and 30th June 2024?

If so then keep yourself free for Bangor Regatta 2024!

Bangor Regatta will take place between 27th and 30th June 2024 at Royal Ulster Yacht Club, Bangor, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. Whilst not finalised the entry fee will include your berthing in Bangor Marina for the event. Whether you want to race around a windward/leeward course or take part in our coastal class taking in the picturesque views of Belfast Lough and the North Channel Bangor Regatta is for you! As well as four days of racing there will be four nights of entertainment at our clubhouse with live music and good food. We, as an organising committee, are passionate about yacht racing and we would love to see you there!

It is our intention that any yacht with a keel will be facilitated.    Please spread the word!

Entries should open in early January. 

We look forward to seeing you at Bangor Regatta in June. In the meantime for information on Bangor Regatta 2024 visit our website.

Published on behalf of Bangor Regatta 2024 organising committee. 

  • Bangor Regatta (RUYC) 27th June 2024 - 30th June 2024 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

THE 10 CLOSEST Hotels to Ballyholme Yacht Club, Bangor

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Clandeboye Lodge Hotel

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Exterior - Riverside

2. AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast

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3. Stormont Hotel

4. culloden estate & spa, 5. room2 belfast hometel, 6. rayanne house, 7. bullitt hotel, 8. malmaison belfast, 9. premier inn carrickfergus hotel, 10. premier inn bangor (northern ireland) hotel, 11. titanic hotel belfast, 12. hilton belfast, 13. the old inn, crawfordsburn, 14. the nines, 15. the merchant hotel, 16. dobbins inn, 17. ramada by wyndham belfast city centre, 18. la mon hotel & country club, 19. premier inn belfast titanic quarter hotel, 20. strangford arms hotel, 21. ten square, 22. marine court hotel, 23. ibis belfast city centre, 24. belfast city cathedral quarter hotel, 25. premier inn belfast city centre (alfred street) hotel, 26. grand central hotel, 27. citi north, 28. the gasworks hotel, 29. dream apartments belfast, 30. guestouse50, hotels near ballyholme yacht club information.

Bangor Town Regatta


27th-30th June 2024

Quick links.

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Latest News

New boats for the new year.

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The Regatta team are delighted to hear of several new boats that will be sailing in Belfast Lough this year for Bangor Regatta ’24.

Rory Flannigan talks to Ryan Wilson on BTR24

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Rory Flannigan of Bangor Regatta talking to Ryan Wilson of Elixir from Carrickfergus Sailing Club on his new MAT 1010. Entries for Bangor Regatta are now open on our website, so make sure to register today. And watch this space for more interviews from Rory with competitors, boat owners and volunteers.

Royal Ulster Yacht Club Launches Bangor Regatta 2024

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Royal Ulster Yacht Club has launched  Bangor Regatta 2024  with the publication of the Notice of Race and Entry Form for the event, which will be run in  Belfast Lough  out of Bangor from 27th till 30th June.

Article by Betty Armstrong : Afloat

Welcome to Bangor Regatta 2024

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25th-28th June 2020

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Notice of Race and Entry now online!

We are delighted to announce that the Notice of Race and Entry for Bangor Regatta 24 is now officially online . We are fast approaching the Sailing Season and the BR24 Team have been working hard to get this information out to all owners and sailors to enable them to plan their sailing calendars for this year. As we move forward we will be announcing more info on the event so please follow our social media for up to date news. Get your entries in early we look forward to seeing you in Bangor and at RUYC soon.

Follow us on Facebook - and our new Instagram account - to keep up to date with all our announcements. You can also read a great article from Betty Armstrong in Afloat magazine that gives you some insight into the regatta.

We're looking forward to another successful and fun event in 2024!

Sailing Instructions

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Day 4 of Sailing at BTR

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I have a very potent meteorology indicator in my back yard, it's called a brown bin. When it's upturned and sliding around skippers and crews head to the pub. That was certainly the case yesterday as I was walking my almost airborne little dog around Ballyholme Beach.  

Day 2 of Sailing at BTR

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No problem getting the fleet underway yesterday morning in a brisk warm southerly. Conditions epitomized the reason why Belfast Lough has the reputation of being one of the finest locations for on the water competition in Ireland especially when the wind is in the south.

Day 1 of Sailing at BTR

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Looking out on the water this morning thoughts were more sunscreen than spinnakers but in any case classes set off on a slow start on day one of the much anticipated Bangor Town Regatta.

Social News

Updated social and catering calendar.

We've updated the social calendar and added details of all catering options. Click to find details of what to watch and what to eat!

Sailing Information

The following race documents can be found in our Sailing section:



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    Opening Times. * The main office is open from 10:00 to 16:00 Monday to Friday. The training hours depend on the programmes being held at the time. Otherwise members are usually around at the weekend. Learn to Sail or Powerboat at Ballyholme Yacht Club. Learn Navigation skills or take part in the summer sea swim series. There is something for….

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