WE ARE BACK!

Starting from Saturday 23 May 2020

Revised route, new content, restricted group size, name your own price.

On 18 May 2020, the Northern Ireland Executive announced some amendments to the COVID-19 containment measures.

One of those changes allows for small gatherings (up to 6 people) from more than one household in an outdoor environment – provided effective Social Distancing is maintained.

Getting out of the house seems more important than ever. Combining exercise, fresh air and a bit of education seems like a good way to spend some of your time.

I could do with ‘keeping my hand in’ and I’ve also taken the calculated decision to renew my Public Liability Insurance.

Consequently, I will be offering Guided Walking Tours of Carrickfergus, looking specifically at events here during the Second World War, on the following basis:

  • There will be no “just turn up” Tours – all must be pre-arranged. Drop me an email (leadthewaytourcarrickfergus@gmail.com), give me a call/text (+44 7916780474), or send me a Facebook Message (https://www.facebook.com/leadthewaytour), and I’ll do my very best to organise a day and time that suits you.
  • Tours can be delivered on most days: morning, afternoon or evening.
  • Each pre-arranged Tour must be made up of people who are known to each other.
  • Maximum of 5 persons on each Tour.
  • Those who come on the Tour MUST adhere to Social Distancing.

PUBLIC SAFETY IS PARAMOUNT

ROUTE

The Tour route will be slightly different than before, to ensure it is delivered within the official guidance in regard to outdoor spaces.

It is about 1.3 miles long, and will take around 90 minutes to complete.

The route is on level ground with safe crossing points.

If you want to include more exercise into your Tour, it can be extended up to 3 miles to include walking out of the Town Centre to some of the locations that I talk about.

CONTENT

The Tour covers the following topics:

  • Background on the Churchill Tank displayed on the Marine Highway, the North Irish Horse Regiment that used it during the Second World War, and why Carrickfergus was so important in the development of the Tank
  • Factories in Carrickfergus that made a hugely significant contribution to the War effort
  • Domestic life in the town: The Home Front
  • The special uses of the town’s Civic Buildings
  • How the Town Centre’s infrastructure changed throughout the War, particularly when the American Troops arrived
  • The Sunnylands Army Camp – from British to American to Belgian occupation
  • The formation, and onward journey, of the US Rangers
  • A new Belgian Army
  • Carrickfergus Military Prison and Detention Barracks
  • The Military Petrol Distributing Centre

I use approximately 150 photographs to help tell the story of events in Carrickfergus during the Second World War. These photos have been enlarged to A4 size, so are visible from 2 metres to maintain social distancing.

I also have a few exhibits which I bring along. However, due to their fragility, if the weather conditions are not favourable I may not be able to display these –  apologies in advance if this is the case on your Tour.

 On a “normal” Tour, I display these in an indoor environment.

NAME YOUR PRICE

There is no set cost for the Tour, in the current circumstances. At the conclusion of each Tour you can, if you want, make a donation of your own choice. Although this would be very welcomed to help cover my set-up and running costs, it is not a requirement.

PREVIOUS PARTICIPANTS

Anyone who has previously been on my Tour may wish to know that during the lockdown I have spent considerable time adding content to the Tour. If you would like to join me for an Update Tour, where I only cover the additional content from the previous Tour, please get in touch.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch.

Adrian

We’ll meet again……

It has been a staggering month or so.

As the New Year started, I was in the final planning stage of delivering some large-scale Tours over the V.E. Day weekend in early May. I was involved in organising an inter-generational lunch to bring together people who lived through the Second World War and young school pupils who are our future. I was testing new content to be included in this year’s Tours. New professional marketing was almost completed.

Now, I’m into the fourth week of adhering to Scientific and Medical advice and doing my bit to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 virus by staying indoors unless absolutely necessary.

I am in awe of the work done by a huge range of key workers who are looking after our welfare. Health workers, public servants, post & parcel delivery staff, retail workers, transportation personnel, and many others.

Like most of the travel, tourism and hospitality sector, I have not been able to operate during the lockdown. Disappointing as this is, I understand that protecting lives comes first. The least we can do is act selflessly to ensure the safety of our fellow citizens during this unprecedented period.

I have put some of the enforced hometime to good use. I have discovered more information of activities that took place in Carrickfergus during the Second World War, and intend to include this in the Tour, whenever I am able to re-start offering them.

As I sit here at the keyboard, I have no idea how soon it will be before my Tour can re-commence. Realistically, it may be well into the summer, or maybe even beyond.

In the meantime, I’ll keep digging for more to add to the Tour. If you have any information that you think I could include, please get in touch. Similarly, if you have any questions, give me a shout.

Most importantly of all: Stay at Home, protect the Health & Social Services, Save Lives.

Adrian

COVID-19 Update

It feels like I am having to update information about the impact of COVID-19 on my Tour almost every day. However, this is such an important and fluid situation that I don’t mind. Better safe than sorry.

The most recent official advice includes: 

To slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) the general public are being asked to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary social contact.

People over 70 and those who have high risk and underlying health conditions are being strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and significantly reduce unnecessary social contact.

People should minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations and smaller gatherings such as restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, cinemas and gyms.

In light of this advice, I am suspending my public Tours for the foreseeable future.

If, however, you would like a private Tour, please get in touch. In the circumstances, I am reducing the minimum group size for private Tours to two people. The maximum group size will be six people. These changes will allow a Tour to be conducted in manner that will allow a safe distance to be maintained throughout the Tour.

Even if you don’t come on a Tour, please try to get out and about in the fresh air as much as is practical in the circumstances, and follow the most current advice available. It’s good for your health and wellbeing.

Above everything else, though. please be safe.

Thank you for your continued support.

Adrian

Safe and sensible – COVID-19

The advice around COVID-19 (coronavirus) is regularly updated. Before I conduct a Tour, such advice will be carefully considered and changes incorporated, where necessary.


At present, should you choose to join one of my Tours, the following actions will be appreciated:
Pre-book a place on a Tour through Eventbrite. This will allow me to email you directly should there be any late changes to a Tour. I will absorb any administration fees charged by Eventbrite.
If, however, you plan to come on a Tour on a “just turn up” basis, please visit my Facebook or Twitter account, or email me for the latest position. (Contact details here: contact me)
Take appropriate personal responsibilities seriously. These are updated regularly on the official Government website: NHS


Currently, based on the most recent medical advice, there is no increased risk of contracting COVID-19 by going on my Tour. I am taking every personal precaution and the Tour is conducted in the open air.


Please do not be discouraged from joining one of my Tours. Although COVID-19 has dominated the news agenda, we should try to maintain our normal day-to-day activities as much as possible.

If you have any queries or concerns, please do get in touch.

Adrian

More than a Castle

When I suggest to someone that they should come and visit Carrickfergus, I usually get the same response.

“Oh, I hear it has a Castle.”

Well, yes it does. And a very good one at that. Almost 850 years old and in remarkable condition. It’s a real castle, too. Not an artificial “Game of Thrones” film location. Worth going on one of the free guided tours.

There’s much more to Carrickfergus than the Castle, though.

The Carrickfergus story

The museum in the Civic Centre may be compact and bijou, but there is enough there to tell the story of Carrickfergus through the ages.

If you want a really edited version of the town’s history, pop into Market Place and a handful of wall plaques display a neat timeline.

Medieval

Almost as old is Saint Nicholas Church. Obviously it has been through a few revisions over the centuries, but it remains on the same plot as the original. Internal visits are offered, though the Church is not always open. If you get the chance to see inside, you won’t be disappointed.

The defensive Town Walls are well preserved, with the majority of them still standing. There are information boards placed at strategic points around the walls. Start just to the right of the local library. The first board will set the route out for you.

Victorian

The only preserved Victorian gasworks in Ireland is just outside the town centre. More interesting than you may think. Constructed in 1855, it supplied the town with coal gas right up to 1967. Those Victorian engineers built things to last!

Second World War

During the Second World War, Carrickfergus was a veritable hive of activity. It had a tank factory, a linen works converted to make parachutes (and a few other items for the war effort), it was a base for various military units (British, American and Belgian), and a United States special operations force was created here. Little of the wartime infrastructure remains, but this is where my Tour comes in (unashamed plug). It brings the events that took place in Carrickfergus during the Second World War to life.

Food and Drink

Of course, it you are going to spend a day or two in the town, you will need fed and watered. Did you know there are more sit-in places to catch a light snack or meal within a half-mile radius of the Castle than there are letters in the alphabet?

Getting here couldn’t be easier

If travelling by public transport, the train station is only a few hundred yards from the town centre and the bus drops you off even closer.
There are plenty of car parks dotted around, with the Harbour one (only 150 yards on the Belfast side of the Castle) the most convenient – and it’s free.

And there’s more….

If you are prepared to venture a little further, the Andrew Jackson Centre and the US Rangers Museum are jointly located about a mile towards Larne.

So, yes, do come and visit Carrickfergus.

Marvel at our beautiful Castle, but don’t miss out on the rest of the town’s offerings.

Top Tip: please check the opening times of these attractions before you travel. They vary a bit, and some may require advance notice of your intention to visit. Click on the attractions that are in bold to take you to an appropriate website.

YouTube Channel

As well as reading a small mountain of books and innumerable pages on the internet while researching content for the tour, I have come across quite a few interesting and useful videos on YouTube.

I thought I would put these together in a collection, so here’s a link to my YouTube Channel: Lead The Way Tour YouTube Channel

The Channel has only 1 video specific to the Tour, at the minute, but if you visit the associated playlist there’s a lot there of interest. Please feel free to subscribe to the Channel to view any more videos I add to it.

If I had to recommend a particular video on the playlist to start you off, it would be A Letter from Ulster (1942).

Enjoy the nostalgia.

Always looking for more…..

If you come across any more videos that you think could be added to that playlist, please contact me with the details.

Happy New Year

A new year and a new decade begins.

From a Second World War perspective, 2020 brings us the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (V.E.) Day on the 8th May and Victory over Japan (V.J.) Day on August the 15th (though the United States of America commemorate V.J. Day on the 2nd of September).

V.E. Day is on a Friday, and I’m delighted that the Government has moved the May Bank Holiday to this date this year.

I am in the planning stages for a variation of my standard Walking Tours to take place over the V..E Day weekend, and I hope to soon be able to share details of a special extended Tour on V.E. Day itself.

Standard Tours are available throughout the winter months on request – just get in touch.

In the meantime, I wish you the very best for a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Request for information

With the Tour now in mini-hibernation for the winter (though willing to be woken up on request), I am continuing with research on events in Carrickfergus during the Second World War.

As well as using published material in books, magazines, websites and newspapers of the time, I would like to hear personal stories from those who lived in the town during this period.

Sadly, many of those citizens are no longer with us. However, I am sure many of their personal stories have been handed down the generations.

If you, or people you know, have any recollections of what it was like to live and/or work in Carrickfergus during the Second World War, please get in touch with me.

For example, from my own family I have discovered that:

  • my dad studied at the Tech on High Street, before getting a job helping with horse-drawn bread deliveries;
  • my grandmother used to watch the American soldiers parading down Lancasterian Street from her first floor landing window (she used to live in what is now a charity shop opposite the Fire Station);
  • my grandfather got a suspended prison sentence for his part in the theft of petrol from the Army store at Kinnegar barracks, where he was working (not the sort of story I hoped to find!);
  • my father-in-law was in the local Home Guard; and
  • my mother-in-law worked in Barn Mills (I recently found a photo of her there, taken in 1943)

Perhaps this request for stories is a good excuse for the younger generations to sit down and chat with their elders about this period in time.

Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, please get in touch to let me know if you have anything you think may be of interest – stories, photos, memorabilia etc.

I can arrange to meet up, if necessary, to record these stories or take copies/photos of any useful items. Or if you are happy to email me the stuff, that’s great.

The best way to get in touch, initially, is by emailing me at: leadthewaytourcarrickfergus@gmail.com

I will follow up any offers of information over the winter months. I may not do this immediately after you email me, so don’t worry if you don’t hear back from me straight away.

Winter Tour Arrangements

During the winter period, there are a few changes to how you can join me for a Guided Walking Tour around Carrickfergus.

Scheduled Saturday morning Tours, offered on a “just turn up” basis, will stop after 26 October 2019 and re-start on 29 February 2020.

During this period, Walking Tours will continue to be available on request.

I know that weather conditions may have an impact on your decision to consider a Tour. I don’t mind getting wrapped up to tackle the elements, but it’s not everyone’s idea of fun. For that reason, I am more than prepared to consider requests for a Tour at short notice, so you can factor in the weather forecast. I will do my very best to fit something in for you.

To help with your planning, here are a few useful hints and tips:

  • To get the most from a Tour, it’s best it takes place during daylight hours.
  • I can include a supported visit to the US Rangers Museum where a Tour fits in with their opening times of Wednesday to Sunday, 11:00 – 15:00.
  • My contact details are here: Contact Me
  • Here’s a link to the BBC Weather Forecast: BBC Weather

More details about the Tour, including how to get here and other things you may want to do while in Carrickfergus, are available here: Lead The Way Tour Website

Please note, I will definitely be unavailable for Tours from 21 November through to 9 December.

Antiques Road Trip

This very popular BBC TV programme made a visit to Northern Ireland recently, and as part of the show it visited the US Rangers Museum in Carrickfergus.

This gave a flavour of the important part Carrickfergus played during the Second World War.

You will find out even more on one of my Tours, but in the meantime, here is a link to that episode of Antiques Road Trip: Antiques Road Trip Series 19, Episode 16

To book one of my Guided Walking Tours, please get in touch.