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Wounded but not quite dead… yet. Bangor, County Down, N. Ireland.

Bangor county down

An open letter to anyone who gives a sh*t about the future of my town.

I come from a little seaside town called Bangor in Northern Ireland. Growing up, it was everything I could have wanted. The sea was just a ten-minute walk from my house, the town centre was busy and there were lots of shops to get lost in. My friends and I would do the rounds of the record stores on a Saturday: Plastic Passion, Harrison Musique, MTM, Cosmos, Underground – sifting through dusty boxes of NMEs and looking for old punk 7”s. These stores are, of course, long gone. But so it seems is everything else. All along ‘Main’ Street and ‘High’ Street shop fronts are boarded up, while the Queen’s Parade seafront – which once *shockhorror* actually drew people to come here on holiday – remains in a sad state of limbo. Yes, Bangor is slowly dying, yet those with power seem to be powerless to do anything about it.

Bangor Main Street

Main Street is pretty good if you like charity shops and TO LET signs

I know it’s not just Bangor. Small towns like this right across Northern Ireland and the UK are suffering similar fates due to recession and the increase of people buying online. But it baffles me some of the decisions that are being made by government on a local level here. On Grays Hill there are a number of shops that have lain vacant for years. Instead of investing in new business – or putting the money elsewhere in the town – the local council decided to spend £102,000 ‘colouring in’ the front of the buildings so they were less of an eyesore. That garish paint has now faded, yet the derelict buildings still remain underneath. I guess whoever approved this ‘wacky’ project had never heard the term, “you can’t polish a turd.” At least the murals on Queens Parade have artistic merit, backed by Project 24. The new Aurora gym is amazing, it really is. But again, at a cost of £38 million, I cant help but think what could have been done to the rest of the town if the decision had been made to split that funding and spread the wealth. THIRTY. EIGHT. MILLION. POUNDS.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have been out of Northern Ireland for a while now. As I type this I am home on a visit. It’s easy for me to sit here and complain I know. And some would say I don’t even have the right to chirp up as I don’t even live here any more. But this is where my parents still live, and where I was brought up. It is where I am from, and it saddens me to see the state of the town centre, especially when the surrounding coastline is up there with the best in the world. I’ve travelled a fair bit, but when the sun’s out the scenery round here can beat it all. I mean look at it. It’s amazing. It needs to be promoted more – this is the selling point of the town and the reason people will come here. I worked as a creative on the Northern Ireland Tourist Board advertising account for a few years, and I know first-hand that Bangor never got a look in.

Queen’s Parade has been a mess for years and years now. As long as I can remember. The only saving grace is that it is now home to a number of makeshift creative ‘pods’ supporting emerging artists. I hope these can be safely relocated once the seafront’s fate is finally decided. But that won’t happen any time soon. Politicians are talking, but nothing is being done. People are moving away, and new families are deciding not to move here. The potential of this town is unbelievable – look at what it once was. Decades ago people flocked here, it was rammed. It was aspirational, the place you wanted to go and the place you wanted to live. What the hell happened?! This isn’t a huge rant, it’s simply an observation from someone who has been away for three years and seen the town centre go downhill even further. I know there must be politicians and groups out there fighting for change, but the red tape is getting worse.

If you’re from Bangor – or have a connection with the place – share this post about to show how beautiful the coast really is. Bangor just needs some looking after, please!

The scenes below are just a ten-minute cycle from my house. Music by Tycho.



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44 comments

  1. John F

    Bangor is still packed at the major holidays, but the problem is that no-one wants to live in the town centre. Take chip shops for an illustration. There’s the new Salt House at the train station, The Plaice to Go on Dufferin Avenue and The Cleo at the top of High Street, but only Cafe Cod on the sea front. As I queued at Cafe Cod for 45 minutes to get a fish supper on Easter Monday, I realised that although on a high tourist day there could well be three or four chip shops doing a good trade on the sea front, there aren’t enough locals to keep them going the rest of the year. There are quite a few chip shops round Bangor, but they tend to be further out where year-round trade is better than a few manic days.

    Bangor just doesn’t seem to have a focus. There’s Ballyholme beach, but it’s too far from the town centre and too residential for mass tourism. It seems other seaside towns like Groomsport and Donagadee can focus attention on a small area and people will go to them to get away from the bigger towns, like Bangor.

    Finally, Bangor’s geography is against it. Being on the coast, with the sea on two sides and Belfast so close means it is unlikely to be a regional centre for shopping or nightlife, which together with no-one wanting to live in the town centre means boarded up shops and rows of charity shops. And only one chip shop.

  2. Vivian Boyce

    Bangor people are now living in a town that they deserve. For years a very good friend of mine Mr Pat MIlliken MBE who has passed away now fought tirelessly with the Better Bangor campaign for decades for support for every known advancement for Bangor, to no avail. The only thing he successfully succeeded in accomplishing was keeping Bangor hospital open, something the people of North Down take for granted. Bangor people all share the same requirement for being a Bangorian. That is TOO much talk and not enough action. After all the top of the councils agenda for years has been the amount of dog shit on the streets, never mind what’s really important to everyone.

  3. Lauren Thompson

    I still remember Pauls chip shop on Queens Parade when it was open. And there was once a time that I actually favour the Flagship centre over Bloomfield. No more. What’s happened to my beautiful home town? These past 7 years I’ve been living away from home, and every time I came back to see the family it just seemed to get worse and worse and worse. But Vivian Boyce is right, there’s no action being taken that I’ve seen or heard. A real sense of community has been lost. Can anyone tell me if steps are being taken to turn this around.

  4. Ryan

    Been away from Bangor for 9 years now, and it seems I got out in time. The wee town is a shadow of itself.

  5. Tracy

    I love being a Bangorian, but our beautiful town has lost it’s soul and we it’s people have looked at the shame of the Queens Parade, Grays Hill, High Street and the charity shop, bank and cafe ridden Main Strret as “normal” now. We need to fight to bring it back to it former glory but a modern day upgrade. U say it’s nearly dead and u r so right but only we can resuscitate it! We are content to sit back and let our council kill our town. They don’t seem to care about it. Surely people power can bring it back to life and let others come and enjoy the summers that I had in the town throughout my childhood. Pickie Pool all day, playing in the parks, shopping in the Main Street with my friends, eating out, eating in. Let’s stop talking and start acting and do sonething to inject the life back into the town we love. The so called “sea front” is just embarrassing and such a shame to be in that state. Your video shows it’s beauty. People power does work. Rant over!

  6. Freddie Kruger

    im afraid the North Down Council are a waste of space. The town is an eyesore. Sure the 50’s and 60’s have gone but day trippers and just popping out still exists. But what do you expect at a seaside town but the sea! Except they paved over it and built a car park. It’s just incredulous . Where you’d hang out or walk by the sea wall it’s A CAR PARK . Then to add insult to injury the car park opposite what was the Grand hotel , they made it Marina owners only but only bigger. Then on top of that they built a huge monstrosity of a building block best suited to Russia. So now you pull up to the Hotel, get a front room where in its day had a view over the bay and now you have lovely views of car park, then another car park and a bloomin awkful block building in a SEA SIDE hotel. Guess what hotel folded and is now also derelict. You honestly couldn’t cock it up more if you tried . It’s as if they secretly own Portstewart or somewhere and wanted to destroy Bangor AND these idiots get paid to do this and massive retirement funds. It’s soul destroying but at least they have nice boats in the Marina and rare payer funded free car parking eh!

  7. steve wright

    I know exactly what you mean- im also from bangor and my parents,brother and sister live in bangor.I live in berkshire now and im a designer (mainly retail!) That takes me to many towns across the uk.whilst bangor has fallen to a state of neglect,when I see photos esp round towards ballyholme,its wonderful and is right up there with anywhere in the world(is this really ni sometimes I think)I try to be an ambassador,telling everyone about my wonderful wee country(some swedish friends are going to ni this mth)but the sad fact is if red tape and beurocracy with councils,local authorities and landlords is not relaxed,not to mention perhaps greedy landlords or property developers who would rather hold onto land,(im not saying this is happening in bangor,as im not privy to any behind the scenes info there)many wonderful towns struggle to recover.bangor perhaps does not have the footfall to attract the big chains,nor the help/money to encourage small entrepreneurial independants,but as a location,who could ask for more-20mins to belfast with ports and airport,10mins from the countryside,with a coastline wrapped around it

  8. davwjoe

    Bangor sea front a disgrace.the Royal hotel laying empty. Now the bar in ballyholme sea front is closing down.the flag ship shopping mall is dead empty units. bill boards for sale or rent.its the council rates are to high.parking only for one hour on main streets .Bangor years ago was brilliant.and still could be.

  9. pauline

    the only way the town will change is when the fuddy duddys decide to leave the town hall and let fresh creative blood in.
    the councillors have no vision.. they seem to wear blinkers, they cannot see the potential we see, they spend money on new paving and I see re-doing pickie park again!! The jewel has fallen off the crown.
    What can be done?

  10. COLIN MARTIN

    I was born in Bangor hospital and have lived in the town most of my life. I can only hope my children have some sort of town left to inherit!
    The Esplanade bars closing their doors a couple of months after the Windsor only shows hoe people are not eating/drinking out the way they used to and giving vital life blood to these local businesses. Greys Hill is now dead and Main Street is coffee houses charity shops and pound stores. Twenty five years ago the great and the good in North Down Borough council thought it wise to demolish King Street and the seafront after paying untold monies to reposses the buildings from the residents! Here we are twenty five years later and they spend £38 million on a leisure centre and £4 million on Pickie Fun park so why not invest the money in the heart of the town where it is most needed? No point having these luxuries if no one comes to visit. I worked all over the Provence for 15 years and people often commented how dissapointed they were when they came for a day trip to Bangor. “What ever happened to the rowing boats and Barrys amusement arcade”?etc etc.
    So lets hope we won’t have to wait another quarter of a century for the new sea front proposal to come to fruition. Less back handers at council offices and more positive moving forward together for the greater good of ” our wee Bangor”

  11. Jude

    Well said, I have moved away from my homeland 20 years now, but North Down is still home and I’m ashamed of Bangor! Newtownards and Holywood, even Donaghadee are much better towns to shop in than Bangor. I was talking only yesterday to a well established trader who decided to bail out of Bangor because it’s outlook was so bleak & has now set up a beautiful shop in Holywood, and I don’t blame her, i think she made a very wise decision & I wish her every success. Bangor you have everything going for you and you are pissing it away in the wind. Having such a great setting you should be optimising your potential, having nice seafront walkways with boutique shops, sea front cafes & restaurants and not leaving it all to rot. Pull your socks up Bangor, people still shop regardless of a recession, but they need good shops to shop in, and if they aren’t there why should they bother to come to your town. Personally I would drive past Bangor as it is and travel an extra 5 miles to better shops in another town.

  12. On a more serious note, trying to revive businesses which have already failed in this economy is throwing good money after bad. The council cannot wave a magic wand to fix the wider economic issues. Of course the Queen’s Parade is key to Bangor’s development but again the current situation isn’t solely the fault of the council. The DSD were also involved, and the developers had them all over a barrel trying to push plans for development on the seaward side of Queen’s Parade which would ultimately take away the views from the rest of us plebs. If you want someone to blame go hound the original developers. In short, current Bangorians have taken a hit so the coming generations can enjoy pretty coastal views and a rejuvenated Bangor in the future. God knows when. Anyway, there’s more to Bangor than Queen’s Parade and a town centre and in honesty, when I lived in Bangor. I rarely saw either of them. Instead of whingeing over social media why not go out and make the most of what the town does have to offer. Cider down Strickland’s Glen is always a good option.

  13. Thank you allanmwilson for a timely bit of sense, from someone who has actually chosen to live here. Aurora is much more important to locals than a picture postcard Queens Parade, and actually does attract a lot of visitors. The coastline is as lovely as ever and easily accessible (with or without cider) from Holywood to Orlock. One problem there is certainly dog shit so I’m glad the council is trying to find a way to control crappy dog owners. It is an amazing place in any weather, not just tourist weather.As for the poor bar/hotel/shop owners (yet to meet a poor one), well it’s supply and demand. I’m not paying my rates just to keep their mercs on the road. Bangor is a great COMMUNITY in a lovely setting. Tourists come and go.

  14. Ian

    Unfortunately Bangor is not the only town in trouble. Read the news and you will see that even Grace Neill’s closed its doors recently. I mean; Grace Neill’s, the oldest licenced premises in the whole of Ireland!!! Having lived her all my life, I agree that the town centre is a mess. The whole focus of the town is as a dormitory for Belfast workers, and even within the town everything is focussed towards the ring road and beyond. There were years when my wife and I wouldn’t go down the street, because there was nothing there worth going to. Expensive pints of piss poor beer, a rubbish selection of shops…..others have said it all. The problems? The cost of rent and rates. Chain stores: why come to Bangor when the same stores with the same goods are in every town in the country? The Councils aping of Belfast’s development plans, ie. trying to turn the seafront into a vast shopping/ entertainment complex lile the Waterfront Hall in Belfast (incidentally it doesn’t work either).

    The solutions. Bangor is a Victorian seaside town. Don’t try to make it a 21st century clone town and preserve whatever heritage that is left. Encourage small, unique businesses by building small, relatively cheap units. Reduce the town centre rates and rebalance them against out of town ones. Do something about car parking or provide an alternative.

    Rebuild the seafront in the style to which it was accustomed (ie, restore whatever buildings are left and don’t put a modernist concrete lump into the bit in the middle). The towns parks are a huge asset: don’t build anything else on that land. Get the council to lighten up. Every damned sign they erect is a negative (don’t do this, no ball games, dogs on leads etc, etc) If the council really want dog owners to clean up after their dogs, put in more bins and actually empty them once in a while (eg. there are no bins on the costal path from Stricklands Glen all the way to Crawfordsburn Country Park, the result of which is that even those who do use a bag often just leave it at the side of the path. What’s the point in that?)

    On a more positive note, the costal path is a jewel and the boardwalk after Seapark is a new and positive development. The restored walled garden is great, and the water service are actually doing something about all the sewerage that has been pumped into the sea for years and years.

  15. Vic

    I agree, Bangor needs to let someone with vision take over but it won’t work because in bangor we have a squad of older people who dispute and block change! My mum has a certain name for them lol. Bangor needs a shake and an injection of youth, fun, music and creativeness but it will never happen while the ones in charge or of high opinion are standing.

  16. "Norn Iron Could Be Class Hi"

    I’m a friend of one of your mates Justin and I would say part of the answer is pushing your MP and the Planning Service for things like change of use and lower rates as an incentive for businesses. My town is the same with all its fake shop fronts. There needs to be a massive rethink of Main Streets and Business in Northern Ireland.

    Apart from that people need to start showing a bit of respect for the country, because it is a beautiful place.

  17. Aimee

    How can we go about getting change to happen? This is not a rhetorical question, I moved away from Bangor 5 years ago when I was 18, as soon as I possibly could have and every time I go back it makes me sadder. So much potential, and so many of us see it but still nothing gets done. I’ll sign any petition for redevelopment of the seafront, I’ll put money into any Crowdfunder effort for local businesses

    So many of us want to see the town restored to its former glory, but we lack a clear plan or even a clear direction in HOW to do this and where the council should be leading they are dragging. What can we do fellow Bangorians??

  18. indsor

    I love Bangor and have always preferred it to the other seaside places in Northern Ireland. I went .as a child on Sunday school trips and loved it. As I grew up I loved going for a wee night ,It was always thriving at weekends and my friends and I would get the train from Portadown, book into the Windsor hotel or Marine ( If we were more flush ) and have a fab night out, going round different bars then usually going to Marine Court front bar for 60s music, then go on through to night club at the back. However……the last few times we have done this, Bangor is empty!! We sat in Nelsons bar at 6pm and it was empty, the nightclub is now a sportsbar?? And the Windsor hotel is closed down, really sad to see that. Bangor has so much going for it , beautiful Marina, lots of nice restaurants and bars, it is such a shame to see it declining. I spoke with 2 taxi drivers from Bangor and they said Bangor is on its knees. I don’t know which councillors represent Bangor but they would need to get off their backsides Bangor back to life, reduce rates on Seafront premises to make it affordable for people to start a business for a start. Theres bound to be something they can do. Don’t let your wee town get like mine, dead!!!

  19. Sally H

    The common theme seems to be “I moved away, took my talent and spending and support to another town, I couldn’t wait to get out … why is the town dying?” When everyone moves away, towns die. If you love the town, bring your custom and your business back and pump some life into it. But don’t take yourself to greener pastures then rail on those who stayed, those who are trying, that they aren’t doing enough.

  20. steve wright

    Hi Sally, whilst there is some truth in your comment about people moving away, the reality is somewhat different. Personally i had to move to where the work in my field was, retailers have been pulling out of bangor over the years and as a young person i had neither the power, influence nor money to make a change to Bangor.Granted when everyone moves away, towns can die, however i have also seen and heard many stories of young people who got well educated, didnt want to leave n.i and end up unemployed or working in low paid jobs – the education and the cost of it wasted. Whilst i may not personally still live in bangor, it is where my roots are and will always be home – any opportunity i have to get people to n.i, and even try and make work or get interest there i take it and it should not be frowned on when people still care about the place, even if they no longer live there. At the end of the day, if none of us cared and turned our backs completely, nothing will change. Im very proud of where i come from and spread the word to everyone over here (despite having very bad press in ni because of the troubles) – the fact is that the attitude of most people regarding things that are not on their own doorstep, whether its england, ni, syria, iraq etc is “it doesnt affect me, its far away, so why should i worry about it” – no one knows when the expertise of those of us who have left but still always have the place in our thoughts may come back as an asset someday to help – but help is not going to work if planners are set in their old ways and refuse to budge, locals dont want development on their doorstep, banks dont lend money to SBE’s and landlords or property developers are sitting on their hands, whilst everyone argues about it being everyone elses fault

  21. Sylvia Clark

    The Council are too busy chopping down ‘Historial’ trees at Bangor Castle. THE COUNCIL SAY THEY WERE DISEASED. THE CHESTNUT BLOOMS WERE MAGNIFICENT AS THEY CHOPPED IT DOWN AND MOVED SURREPITIOUSLY ON TO THEIR NEXT VICTIM.
    There IS the new Marina and The Aurora Aquatic / Leisure Centre.
    IT APPEARS THAT ONLY THE M&S ANNUAL BEACH CLEARUP BY VOLUNTEERS iS THE ONLY TIME THE BEACH IS CLEANED.
    WHEN IT RAINS HEAVILY RAW SEWAGE FLOWS INTO THE SEA @ BALLYHOLME. DELISH!
    THE DIVING BOARDS, RAFT, ROPES TO GUIDE ONE TO DIVING BOARDS AND TO GRAB ONTO, TOO LAZY TO BRING OUT. NO, DON’T TELL ME THEY ARE TOO EXPENSIVE AND NOBODY VENTURE INTO THE COLD SEA THESE DAYS. THEY WOULD IF IT WAS CLEAN AND KEPT CLEAN DURING THE SUMMER MONTHS.
    Sylvia Clark

  22. I used to live in Bangor and it’s very sad to see the state it’s in now. This could be the perfect opportunity for the council to see Bangor as a blank canvas and turn it into something amazing. But thus far it looks as though it’s going to continue to be all talk and no action which is a real shame.

  23. Leigh

    Grew up in Bangor until I was 17, it was a brilliant place back then. When I go back to visit (still have friends there) I am disappointed more each visit. Very sad!

  24. Alan cook

    Totally agree. Decades of mismanagement by councils not fit for purpose. Blinded by Developer led competitions pre recession and then spending a fortune on an Olympic size pool completed too late for London Olympics!!!!
    Where is our theatre? Where is our seafront? Hidden away behind a car park. Who designs a promenade along an award winning Marina then sticks a car park instead of cafes bars and shops fronting onto it. Councillors in North Down that’s who!!!!

  25. Norma Cooke

    I am a Bangorian,who now lives in Canada…It breaks my heart when I go back every other year..I remember packed seats all around the sea front,sand design competitions,the Boulevard,Jubilee & Caproni’s…Barry’s amusements I lived next door to the Palladium on Quay Street…Now It’s like a ghost town.This could of been a thriving seaside town,if they had not put a marina in that no.one wanted…

  26. Marina

    Multinational supermarkets competing …. setting up outside once thriving towns on cheap land bought by developers … who were granted resource consent by …. the local town planners! Add into that recipe … the much appraised “internet” and what do you get ………………… the shift of wealth, and the rippling affects which ultimately ruin the prospects of those who once had jobs, businesses and happy family lives. We once all had time to socialize, alongside our working commitments … but do we, as the 21st century folk, actually get time to step off the high-tech wheel of destruction and actually enjoy what available time there is left, instead of sitting at a computer screen!!! Gee Whizzzzzzzzzz – can’t someone in authority literally open their eyes! I’m a 60’s child from Bangor, now living in New Zealand, and when visiting family there, it PAINS me to witness the slow death of a truly remarkably town. If it is against the law for someone to harm humans, well there certainly should be a new law to govern what is being allowed to happen amongst the “Top of the Pyramid” sector. Cheers !!

  27. lisalu

    I have to agree with Ian, though not native to this country I can see that Bangor is a special place which needs less of the major city shops but more small time sellers. This isn’t going to solve this modern day problem as lets face it times have changed and the internet is most peoples main choice when it comes to shopping, so any prospective tenant must also think about internet selling to survive. The council needs to think about putting rentals down to attract sellers too.

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  29. DKirk

    Allanmwilson & Whitetrout, well said. The town has a great coastline, add to that Castle Park, The Walled Garden & Ward Park. Someone wrote that we need to get rid of the Fuddy Duddies, we do but they tend to get replaced by that you Youngy Duddies. Bangor is down but with the right planning and a bit of imagination it will resurface. Last week I, along with 1000 others sat in the sunshine in Ward Park watching a great local band. Tenants Vital 4 years ago was a great success but the town lost it, get it back! Try and get The Air Show. Increase free parking from 1hr to 3 hrs then people will have time to shop and then have lunch or a coffee, instead of grabbing cash from the ATM And getting back in the car before their time is up. Support local bands, musicians, comedians, bars, etc, get into town and start using it, it will soon recover.

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  31. Margaret Western

    I moved to Bangor from Glasgow in 1993…a few weeks before they closed the Winston Hotel and other establishments to enable a complete facelift to Queen’s Parade! 2016 and I totally agree with all your points! Very disappointing to see ‘our’ gorgeous tourist spot being ruined by decayed buildings and no shops to speak of for tourists to visit. Tearooms and coffee shops, with the exception of the nationals can’t survive…what a shame! I live in hope that NDBC will take heed of our complaints and bring life back to Bangor!

  32. Brian

    You are wrong . Go to day as an example it’s thriving. There are cafes and shops and food and – amazing sea at a seaside town. Go to Newcastle same thing .
    Bangor is closed. The paved paradise and put up a parking lot . Incredible in a sea side town with hotels overlooking the bay, the tarmackec it over with a car park. Then they build a huge brick building and a car park in front of the hotels . Result , hotel closed, people stopped coming. It’s not the Spain effect, as Portstewart is bunged. Yes no one holidays like the 50’s and 60’s but we all have cars want a nice day out , not too far , with pretty views and nice cafes and shops. You’d go to Bangor once but never again. It’s terrible. The bay is gone, the sea has gone, it’s the most unpleasant walk from the hotel to picky. It’s a concrete jungle with no views unless you a fan of car parks. Imagine being in the hotel opening your sea view and it’s car parks. No wonder it’s closed. It’s not wounded it’s completely dead.
    What to do ?
    Burn down that monstrosity of a brick block house facing the hotels . Dig up the car park and bring the sea and boats right to queens parade. You know , like a MARINA , one the town could see. Cafes would soon open along queens parade with beautiful views, ok not the bay we knew but sea and boats. Ideally I’d bulldoze the lot , but for 38 million you could destroy the car park

  33. Margaret mc cullough

    I totally agree with everything the writer has said .Why don’t our councillors sut up and take notice. When we have the good weather have the coffee houses and cafes stay open a bit later so that even the locals can use the facilities in stead of the places closing at 5.30 or 6 pm. I’m sure they go on holiday and see other seafront places bustling with people and with our new pavements (hmmm) make the most of it but also get your fingers out and revitalise our down stop dillydallying and make the right decisions

  34. You are so right regards the surrounding areas and walks. No where can match them. The problem that no one dare mention for being shut down is the marina. It has snuffed out the rest of the town. Like a big grey wall like noise around the innocent patient. With empty Tarmac land fill used as car parks boat yards And just big empty areas other than a tatty fairground.
    It’s not rocket science.

    Part of the issue is any effort to suggest an alternative is viewed as mutiny. Emperors clothes stuff.
    Thus everyone with any suggestions shuts up and gives up.
    All quite sad.
    As Bangor truly could still be great. But it needs vision focused on the centre not the periphery.
    Any way.
    I too have given up for having been consistently told this is as good as it’s gets.
    Sighhhh

    Ps. Would like to chat to you one to one of you drop an e mail. Cheers.

  35. Trevor

    Excellent comments here – I know Bangor over the past decade through my parents having retired down there and am in disbelief as well at the waste of so much potential. An extraordinarily sad waste of a great town in a beautiful setting.

  36. Andrew

    I was brought up in Bangor and have spent a long time away and was back recently. I had heard things were bad but I’d no idea just how bad. It’s in a very sorry state and it was very shocking to see, but even in my late teens there seemed to be an intention to rid the place of all of its grand Victorian planning. That policy or thinking seems to have continued to the point where they really are destroying the very heart of the town and what could have been its defining identity. Thankfully a great deal of the Victorian architecture remains in the hands of private home owners who have faithfully maintained them but it does mean now that there will forever be a mis-match between that and a drab, soulless 1990’s style, bland town centre. Sadly there’s no way back from it; when its gone its gone for good. It is certainly not the only one though; there were many grand Victorian towns in Northern Ireland with excellent esplanades that have been bulldozed for the sake of car parks, breeze block walls and dull box units for shops at stupid rents. I don’t think there is any magic solution to it. Northern Ireland just went through its 1960’s brutalist phase in the 90’s and now everyone has to live with it for the next 50 years.

  37. The council is catastrophic and the DSD wouldn’t know a good idea if it kicked them in the nuts. The Marina is still astoundingly ugly, just as bad as when it was constructed. Meanwhile, the Pickie Fun Park has been nicely redeveloped and it’s a joy to visit when in full swing. The biggest problem with Bangor has been how to bring people in from surrounding places to shop and enjoy the quite pleasant laid-back atmosphere the town still has.

    Queen’s Parade needed political will and investment – and nobody up at Stormont will feel positively disposed to investing in the town many people still think is a wealthy place. The White Elephant Centre was criminally underutilised and now is a deeply sad and uncomfortable space. Imagine if the Menarys etc at the top of the town was brought into the space now underused at Queen’s Parade, with the possibility of a hotel and decent couple of restaurants alongside. This would invigorate the Grays Hill area and possibly begin to draw people further down the street and into the town.

    There are green shoots of possibility everywhere – the paving on the main drag is now very pleasing and street furniture is welcome. It seems the infrastructure is slowly being developed to create a space for commerce – the more time and effort we spend actually in the town, the better.

  38. Pauline Jackson

    Kelly. Really lovely post and so true. I miss our days around the seafront and pickie. Bangor has gone downhill and so sad to see. The flagship has been sold to put apparently more shops in. That didn’t work before. I think the cinema should move there along with maybe a theatre, bowling alley, skating etc. Make it an entertainment complex in the heart with the seafront maybe a lido with some kinda open shut roof and a Barry’s kind of amusements. The councillors can’t vote independently at local level which is ridiculous. They have to vote with the party which is fine at govt level but mindboggling at local level and they all seem a bunch of Muppets anyway. The sad thing is my mum and dad are saying that they won’t love to see it better again. Much love Kelly! 😀

  39. Glenn Morgan

    I lived in Bangor from the age of 8 until i turned 22. I moved across the water to a town called Telford in England. I loved growing up in a town i still call home, but I cant help wonder what lessons Bangor could learn from Telford about how to re-develop a town. It saddens me every time I go back to the town of which I have so many happy memories and made me into the person i am today. Its almost like every time i go their I take the Dr Who’s Tardis except the paint on the buildings is coming away, the shops i used to love lie empty or are now charity shops, the queens parade is still apparently due for redevelopment and gradually looks worse by the year. I tell my son who is now 13 how wonderful my childhood was growing up in Bangor, but when he see’s Bangor now he merely looks at me as if to ask if i am really telling the truth. I personally think that Bangor is being run by the older generation who do not like change. I urge the young people of Bangor that have a good imagination, who’s ideas are probably sneered at by the old and wealthy of Bangor to dig your heels in and do not turn your head away at those who sneer at your ideas but impress on these people to make the necessary changes to make Bangor that once Beautiful, Fun, Imaginative town once again.

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