Saturday, 8 January 2011

From Portballintrae to Islay?

In 1952 a detecting station was opened in Portballintrae, where the Beach Car Park now stands. It was given the grand title of "The Admiralty Marine Physical Station" and its supposed purpose was 'oceanographic research', although it now appears its actual purpose was the detection of submarines by listening to their 'sonar signatures'.

Six undersea cables came ashore along a concrete ramp and entered a series of temporary huts in the compound. Until recently part of one of the cables could still be seen on the shoreline, although it is possible this section has now been washed out to sea.

The station closed down in 1955 in a rather mundane way - the lease of the land ran out and Ballymoney Council wanted it back to use as a car park.

The only legacy of the site is that the sewers and running piped water, installed for the station, are now plumbed into the car park public toilets. The detecting operation was transferred to its sister station in Cornwall.