From the pages of the Down Recorder, September 12, 1978

From the pages of the Down Recorder, September 12, 1978

12 September 2018

NEWCASTLE — A 23 year-old Newcastle man sets off in four weeks’ time on a death-defying journey of a lifetime — a 3,000-mile canoe trip up the mighty River Nile.

Former Down High School pupil Malcolm Bailie, of Bryansford Road, will be part of an eight-man expedition which hopes to canoe from the upper reaches of the Nile to the Mediterranean Sea. Their journey will taken over four months and will be fraught with danger from disease, crocodiles, swamps and fast-flowing rapids.

No-one has ever canoed over such a long stretch of the Nile and Marcus admits that their trip will not be easy. “It is a little frightening even thinking about it, but I am looking forward to it immensely,” he said.

Marcus is now living in Liverpool where he studied at the local university, and has been planning the expedition for the past two years.

After travelling to the Ugandan border the eight will head north down the river through Sudan and Egypt. It is a journey which will take them through the Sudd — probably the world’s largest swamp — and through the foaming Nile cataracts.

Marcus began canoeing at Ardnabannon Outdoor Pursuits Centre outside Castlewellan, but only took up the sport seriously at university.

“I’ve never tackled anything as formidable as the Nile before,” he said. “Perhaps one of the hardest things has been trying to arrange sponsorship. We have each spent months writing letters to various firms asking them for equipment. The cost of the trip will be around £8,000.”

The group are disappointed that they will not be able to travel over the complete length of the Nile because of the situation in Uganda, which has made it too dangerous to start at the head waters.

However, they will still have the satisfaction of travelling over much of the ground covered by the Victorian explorers who struggled for decades to trace the Nile’s source.

ARDGLASS — A £28,000 scheme to deepen the harbour at Ardglass will begin within the next two weeks. Already a huge dredger has been brought to the site and a few explanatory digs have been made.

The work, when completed early in the new year, will allow fishing boats to land their catches alongside the market. At present it is impossible for the boats to unload their catches at the fish market during low tide.

With only some three feet of water modern day trawlers are just too big to lie in the harbour without bumping the bottom. The new scheme will aim at providing approximately ten feet of water at low tide, thus enabling the biggest of the boats to unload at the fish market.

Until then the boats will have to follow their usual and unsatisfactory custom of unloading at the main pier and having their catch transported by trucks to the market.

Not since 1940 had dredging been carried out at Ardglass and the work will go a long way towards restoring Ardglass as a major fishing port.

STRANGFORD LOUGH — A secret experiment on Strangford Lough has helped scientists towards a major breakthrough in a three-year battle to harness wave energy as a source of power.

Research at Queen’s University in Belfast has now produced a revolutionary type of ocean buoy which could supply enough electricity for a town of 15,000 people. A chain or such buoys off our coast could one day be one of our main sources of power.

Details of the exciting new scheme were only released yesterday, though the Strangford Lough experiment took place almost a year ago. It was that small-scale which gave the scientists enough information to produce a design for a full-scale device.

Four or five similar experiments are currently being considered by the Department of Energy in Britain for use in a wave energy programme and researchers at Queen’s are hoping their buoy will be one of those chosen.

PORTAFERRY — The beautiful peninsular town of Portaferry has been chosen for a major award in the Central Gardens Association Best Kept Villages and Towns competition for 1978.

The Association awarded Portaferry the title of ‘the small town showing most improvement’ for its landscaping and environmental quality.

COMBER — News that a proposed sheltered housing scheme for Comber has been axed by the planners brought an angry reaction from local councillors this week.

Ards Borough councillors were told that a planning application from the Fold Housing Association for a housing scheme for the elderly in Castle Street had been refused on several grounds.

Comber councillor John Shields said: “It is this ridiculous that this application has been turned down. I think every effort should be made to accommodate the old people in the area.

A planning official, Mr Des Stevens, said that the main objections had been that the department was not prepared to locate old people in an area where there was industrial development and also that there would be a problem of providing access for a housing scheme.

DOWNPATRICK — Tote betting returns to Downpatrick racecourse for the first time in eight years at the end of the month. Mr Barry Ross, course registrar, confirmed that following consolation it has been decided to operate a tote.

“This will be a trial basis and will first come into operation at the meeting of September 30,” he explained. “This will coincide with the visit of Red Rum who will be parading and we are hoping for a big public turnout.

Mr Ross and Major William Browlow, Downpatrick race club chairman, were in Dublin recently for a top level meeting with Irish Racing Board officials.

BALLYNAHINCH — Plessey, the electronics and telecommunications firm with a factory in Ballynahinch, has announced that pretax profits for the first quarter of this year have held at the same level of £12.4 million achieved last year.

STRANGFORD — Delays in the contract for the new council playing fields in Strangford have been sorted out. The breakthrough came last week following a meeting between Down Council’s chairman and clerk, and the council’s solicitors.

It is believed that the purpose of the meeting was to speed up some of the legal work on council projects and at a meeting this week it was reported the problem in the playing fields contract had been solved.

KILLYLEAGH — Back on September 7, 1938, Isaac and Annie Minnis walked up the aisle of Killyleagh Parish Church. Forty years later the couple, of 70 Shore Street, Killyleagh, are celebrating their ruby wedding anniversary.

Family and friends gathered at the Highwayman Inn, Comber, for a party to wish Isaac and Annie all the best. Among those extending their congratulations were the Minnis’ bridesmaid, now Mrs Lottie Walkingshaw, and the best man, Mr Jack Minnis.

RAFFREY — Large crowds thronged to Raffrey Presbyterian Church on Saturday for the annual flower show and sale. The event was held in the Martin Church Hall and hundreds of horticulture enthusiasts attended to view the wide range of high class exhibits.

The Rev T Anderson, show chairman, welcomed the public and introduced Mrs Edgar Lowe, from Carryduff, who opened the show and later distributed the prizes. Master John Stevenson later presented a bouquet of flowers to Mrs Lowe and Mr E Burgess, clerk of session, proposed  a vote of thanks to all who helped.

BALLYKEEL — Kilkeel police have warned local farmers to beware of cattle rustlers operating in South Down. In recent weeks 11 animals with a total value of £3,500, have disappeared from farms in the Ballykeel area.

The missing beasts include five heifers, four bullocks and two calves. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police.

KILLINCHY — Killinchy Women’s Institute held their first meeting of the new season recently when a representative from Unislim was in attendance.

Members were given excellent advice on how to become slim and how to stay healthy. Some ‘before and after’ photographs emphasised the benefits attained by exercise and sensible eating, as explained at Comber Unslim classes.