Whitehead Aerodrome

The first military air base in Ireland was established at Bentra, near Whitehead, in October 1915.  It was home to Royal Naval Air Service airships which patrolled the Irish Sea looking for German U-boats. airshipThe station housed an airship shed made of steel and canvas measuring 150 feet long by 45 feet wide and 50 feet high.  Wooden huts provided accommodation for the pilots and engineers. At least four airships operated from the station at Bentra - SSZ11, SSZ12, SS20 and SS23. Various types of aircraft also landed at the station and it became known as Whitehead Aerodrome. Affectionately named "battlebags" by their crews and "blimps" by civilians, Royal Naval Air Service airships were a familiar sight around Britain's shores during the war years 1914 - 1918.  At least 226 airships were built and operated by the Royal Navy during the First World War in a bid to beat the deadly German U-boats. The primary task for the airships stationed at the Bentra was to protect the Larne-Stranraer ferry and guard incoming convoys in the North Channel from German submarines. When the prevailing wind permitted, the crew would scout from the air, looking for submarines on the surface or the wake of a periscope. Success depended on close cooperation between the naval airmen and the warships operating from Larne harbour. Today the site can be found by following a walking trail at http://www.carrickfergus.org/fs/doc/site-structure/whitehead-walk-leaflet.pdf Listen to BBC World War One at Home's item on Bentra airship station http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01sdwzw Research: Mark McCrea, Member History Hub Ulster

Release of previously unseen vintage aerial photographs of Ulster

Harland & Wolff, Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1947. Oblique aerial photograph taken facing East.

Harland & Wolff, Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1947. Oblique aerial photograph taken facing East.

History Hub Ulster welcomes the release of previously unseen vintage aerial photographs of Ulster by the Britain From Above website. The site has recently published many unseen vintage aerial photographs of Ulster covering the 1920's through to the 1950's. Within the archive are aerial photographs of the Antrim, Ards, Armagh, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Banbridge, Belfast, Carrickfergus, Castlereagh, Cavan , Coleraine, Cookstown, Craigavon, Derry, Donegal, Down, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Lisburn, Larne, Magherafelt, Moyle, Newry and Mourne, Newtownabbey, North Down, Omagh and Strabane areas. The photographs will interest everyone from local historians, railway enthusiasts and heritage fans to name a few. Britain from Above is a four year project aimed at conserving 95,000 of the oldest and most valuable photographs in the Aerofilms collection, those dating from 1919 to 1953.  Once conserved, they are scanned into digital format and made available on this website for the public to see. This project has been made possible due to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and support from The Foyle Foundation and other donors. The website launched with the first 10,000 images and as we currently have little information about the details in the images, the website provides the opportunity to share and record your memories and knowledge about the places shown in the collection. Britain From Above website - http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/restofworld-northern-ireland Gavin Bamford and Catherine Burrell, History Hub Ulster members