From the pages of the Down Recorder, December 5, 1978

From the pages of the Down Recorder, December 5, 1978

5 December 2018

BALLYGOWAN — Ballygowan businessman Jim Kinghan has an usual claim — his flashy pink Cadillac is the longest car in Northern Ireland.

Jim, who owns the Specialised Van Transport Ltd firm in Moss Road, Ballygowan, came into possession of the 19 feet and six inches American model last month and exhaustive inquiries lead him to believe that there is no longer car in the province.

His 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham, powered by a V8 engine, was formerly owned by an Arab oil sheik and is already being affectionately christened ‘The Pink Panther’ in the Ballygowan area.

The list of luxuries inside leaves many in disbelief. At the touch of a switch the sun roof and windows open, the seats adjust and the radio aerial goes up and down. The steering is adjustable, the boot opens from a switch on the dash, the lights automatically dip when meeting a car and there is a special ‘climate control’ knob. The car also boasts quahonic radio and tapes, a miniature dressing table with lights and a place for a TV.

“I was over in England and called in with a friend dealt in American cars. I saw the Cadillac, fancied it and told him I would come back the following week with a view to purchasing it,” Jim said.

Worth around £5,000, Jim reckons it was a real snip and it leaves him in a position to sell his other American car, a 1972 Buick. “Coming from the sunshine of state of Florida, there was no rust on it and it was rather frustrating when someone bumped into it after only three weeks on Northern Ireland roads,” he added.

DOWNPATRICK — Downpatrick police have warned motorists to lock up their vehicles properly when they go Christmas shopping.

The warning comes after recent incidents in the town involving the theft of cars, including one which was taken from a car park at Downtown Shopping Centre.

A Ford Cortina car was stolen from Raholp last Wednesday and was later found in a field after crashing through a hedge, while a car was stolen in Market Street and later found in St Patrick’s Drive.

“A police spokesman said: “The Christmas period is a time when many cars are stolen. So car owners must secure their vehicles properly and put valuables away when they go shopping.”

BALLYNAHINCH — Ballynahinch Chamber of Commerce is in danger of folding — unless more of the town’s shopkeepers start supporting the monthly meetings.

Poor attendances over the past number of months have left organisers demoralised to such an extent that the possibility of folding is having to be considered.

Indeed, only a large turn-out at next Tuesday night’s meeting can save the organisation — so it is hoped shopkeepers will support the Chamber.

A spokesman for the Chamber said: “We are the only voice the shopkeepers have, so it is in the interests of local traders to give us as much support as possible.

“Only about one third of the town’s shopkeepers are actually registered members and there is always an open invitation to any others to attend.

“But it is the turn-out of the registered members that is slightly disturbing. Most actually attend throughout the course of the year, but quite often it is different faces cropping up each month. If only all could come every month, instead of some on occasional months, then we would be a good, strong platform.”

The spokesman added: “There are many issues which can be debated and decisions reached which affect traders and shoppers, so it is hoped that our next meeting will see a revival of interest.”

NEWCASTLE — A petition urging a halt to work on a house in Newcastle was presented to Down councillors at their meeting this week.

Signed by 107 local residents, the petition added fire to Cllr Paddy O’Donoghue’s claim that the builder had overstepped the restrictions of the original planning permission.

After one-and-a-half hours of heated argument the council agreed on a majority decision to ask the planning authority to reconsider the application.

Cllr O’Donoghue said the house in King Street was originally given the go-ahead as a two-storey duelling, but had now developed an additional storey. He said the house as being built much higher than it should be and that it was dwarfing the adjacent houses.

Cllr Ethel Smyth disagreed strongly with Cllr O’Donoghue and said she felt that the builder was being victimised.

KILLOUGH — A new £170,000 housing development in Killough was officially opened last Friday — three months ahead of schedule. The development, which consists of 13 houses, is situated at Castle Street-Main Street on a site which was originally acquired by the old East Down Rural Council.

It was eventually transferred to the Housing Executive, but difficulties regarding site boundaries were not resolved until 1975. The existing trees had to be preserved and it was also necessary to preserve the strong street elevation character of the village.

The contractor appointed was Polly Brothers, of Downpatrick,and the contract length was 15 months. However, the contractor has managed to complete the development three months ahead of schedule.

STRANGFORD LOUGH — An exciting new multi-body committee, pledged to crush threats of over-exploitation of Strangford Lough, is expected to be set up within the next three months.

The ambitious move is the product of recommendations by a Government working group which was formed two years ago to probe increasing pressures on the lough and surrounding area.

The group has concluded that the lough could have massive future potential if it can be preserved in its present unspoilt state. When formed, a management committee will co-ordinate the activities of bodies who have the power to make and implement decisions which influence the future development of the lough.

“Strangford Lough is a major resource for4 the people of Northern Ireland,” a spokesman for the Department of Environment’s Conservation Branch said. “It is indeed fortunate that an area so rich in potential for recreation, tourism and other amenity use, yet so close to a major urbanisation, has remained more or less unspoilt.”

KILLYLEAGH — A Killyleagh church organist revealed yet another of his musical talents recently when he won the Burnside  Cup for top Male Solo Voice (under 20) at the youth music festival in Glengormley.

Ninegteen year-old Mark Spratt is the organist and choirmaster at First Killyleagh Presbyterian Church and is currently studying music at Stranmillis College in Belfast.

This is by no means Mark’s first success. A former pupil of Down High School, he has gained the Associate Diploma of Music (London College) for piano playing.

TECONNAUGHT — Teconnaught Hall was packed to capacity on Saturday night for the East Down finals of Scor na nOg. Dromara was the top club, capturing three titles, with Ballycran being successful in two and Drumaness, Castlewellan and Ballykinlar getting one apiece.

RAHOLP — Mr Joseph Fitzsimons, a well known and greatly respected Raholp man, passed away recently at the age of 95.

Mr Fitzsimons was born in Raholp and was brought to nearby Tobermoney by his uncle when he was three weeks old. At the turn of the century when radio was invented, Mr Fitzsimons made old crystal sets and valve radios and many people heard sound via the airwaves for the first time at his home.

He took a great interest in the archaeology of the district and discovered a cave on his land which consisted of five underground rooms and was opened to the public in 1915.

LISTOODER — The weekend’s heavy rains caused the postponement of the 89th annual ploughing match organised by Listooder and District Ploughing Society.

KILLINCHY — Killinchy Young Farmers’ Club held a party in the Gateway Club in Newtownards recently for its members. The evening began with a disco and this was followed by a variety of games after which a supper was served by Gateway members.