The Introduction

This book is a selection of the most interesting photographs from the collection of North Down Museum (until 2007 North Down Heritage Centre), which are previously unpublished by us. Vintage photographs of the towns of Bangor, Holywood, the villages of Helen's Bay, Crawfordsburn, Conlig and Groomsport, and the surrounding coast and countryside, steadily accumulate in our archive. It is time again to share the best of the recent additions.

No-one engaged in museum work ever knows just who is going to appear through the door, or what they have brought to have identified, or to donate. Thus it was in June 2004 that a large and battered suitcase was deposited with us by a lady in a hurry. She had been clearing a house in Newtownards and was now returning to London. "Take what interests you! It doesn't matter if you throw out the rest! It's been lying in that attic since 1976!"

When the rusty catches finally popped open, out burst a blizzard of old papers, plans, cuttings - and photographs. There must have been nearly a thousand items. All had belonged to the Savage family of Bangor, with whom the donor's family had been connected. James Savage, who died away back in 1937, was known to us as a collector of photographs of his home town decades before such studies became popular. But this archive far surpassed anything of his that had previously come into our collections.

In this book will be found many of the James Savage collection, including ones of himself and his family. He was the proprietor of a building business, whose biggest job was the Dufferin Memorial Hall, Hamilton Road, Bangor (1905), still in use today. But, as will be seen in several delightful views here, he was most noted for the many fine suburban family homes that still grace the town. James Savage, though, was a man with diverse interests. Tommy Ross, aged 101, was asked recently if he remembered him: "Jimmy Savage! Jimmy Savage was the most popular man in Bangor! Everybody knew him!"

No other single source contributes so many views to this book. Some are from the the great collections of the Irish professional photographers Lawrence, Welch, Green and Hogg; some are commercial postcards; some are single prized family photos lent to us to copy; and some are again from out-of-the-blue donations, such as the Clanmorris family on the West Lawn of Bangor Castle, which came from a wonderful little album once belonging, the donor thought, to one of the domestic staff in the late Victorian era.

To suddenly peep into this, or into the ranks of the Savage photographs, is to have a privileged glimpse of a world in just a frozen moment, captured many years ago and since lost or neglected. We now enjoy you to share this privilege!