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North Down Founding Fathers Chronicled in New...

05 December 2011

Publication of a history of Helen’s Bay and Crawfordsburn

‘Twixt Bay and Burn’, a history of Helen’s Bay and Crawfordsburn was published on 16 November. It has been produced by the Bayburn Historical Society, which was set up in 1989 to promote interest in local history in Helen’s Bay and Crawfordsburn. The book is on sale for £10 in many local outlets.


Twixt Bay and Burn blends facts and figures with the recollections of over 50 local residents. It is richly illustrated with more than 170 photographs and other records. The book includes expert accounts of particular topics that bring the past vividly to life.


The project has been supported by the Ulster-Scots Agency, the North Down Museum, and the Ulster Local History Trust.


Twixt Bay and Burn has been compiled and edited by Robin Masefield, on behalf of the Society. It was a privilege, he commented: “There is a huge wealth of history in the local area and it has been a great pleasure to delve into it. I hope readers will enjoy the rich range of material that we have been able to gather, drawing on a wide spectrum of sources. Local residents have been so helpful in sharing their recollections, contributing photographs and helping us to recreate the past”.


Robin continues: “This book does not however claim to be the final word. The Bayburn Historical Society hope it will prompt others with memories to get in touch, and help to create a still more comprehensive record for the future. We are keen to work with local schools, libraries and community groups to continue our exploration of the past”.


Twixt Bay and Burn covers pre-history right through to modern times, and includes a good deal of material not previously published. Important aspects of the Ulster Scots early history in North Down and their descendants, including the little-known Ballydavey Massacre in 1642 and the Sharman Crawford dynasty are fully described. Oral reminiscences from the early part of the 20th Century onwards cover growing up in Crawfordsburn and Helen’s Bay, and past ways of farming and business life. The book also brings out the area’s political and wartime contribution, including local participation in the UVF, the role of Grey Point Fort and details of local Home Guard units and ammunition factories in the Second World War. It also features stories of schools and churches in the area as well as local organisations that made up the social fabric, alongside many evocative pictures of past people and places.


Robin Masefield commented: “The research encompassed some real detective work, and the Society members were very grateful for all the help received to provide answers in the book. For example, I was delighted to track down the authoritative treatise on the farming methods of the early settlers by the late local historian Margaret Garner, which I had discussed with her twenty years ago.  The book both contains this important contextual material and demonstrates key elements of continuity among local families over several centuries. I am grateful for the support of the Ulster-Scots Agency which has taken a close interest in the book as it has been finalised”.


The launch of Twixt Bay and Burn took place at two receptions on 16 November, 2011. The first was hosted by North Down Borough Council Mayor, James McKerrow at Bangor Castle. Then, in the evening, at the Helen’s Bay Presbyterian Church Hall, the book was available for purchase at a reception arranged by the Bayburn Historical Society at which Councillor Mrs Marion Smith opened proceedings.


Twixt Bay and Burn, a History of Helen’s Bay and Crawfordsburn is available for sale at £10, from a range of outlets in Helen’s Bay and Crawfordsburn, as well as local booksellers and through the internet at It has been published on behalf of the Bayburn Historical Society, and printed by Commercial Graphics of Conlig, Bangor.


The Bayburn Historical Society was set up over 20 years ago to promote interest in local history in the Helen’s Bay and Crawfordsburn area. It has already produced a four-mile historical walking trail round the two villages, and holds monthly meetings open to the public from September to spring.


The Society can be contacted at or by telephone to the secretary, Pat Henderson on 02890 763135.