The Pleasure Grounds

The Pleasure Grounds beside the Railway Station were owned by the railway company and direct access to them was provided from the Station. There was no charge for using them and people could stroll or otherwise enjoy themselves.

The land adjacent to the new 1892 Railway Station on the seaward side and connected to it by a fine set of steps from the General Concourse was originally known as the Pleasure Grounds, a garden area owned by the Railway Company and used as a relaxing area for strolling, picnicking, entertainments and religious meetings. Early photographs show a Victorian Bandstand and seating within the grounds. Throughout the summer season each year a variety of entertainments such as minstrels, Pierrotts, evangelical meetings, amusement rides and band concerts would be held in the grounds. In June 1900 The Northern Constitution newspaper was carrying an advert for T. P. Keenan’s Renowned Bohemian Minstrels and Original Portrush Pierotts who were “Daily giving their well-known Entertainment …. Hundreds delighted. Public Verdict – Better than ever. Come see, Laugh and enjoy yourselves.” They were giving three performances each day at 11 a.m., 3 and 7 p. m. In 1902 it was the turn of the Royal Pavilion Pierotts.

In August 1902 Portrush celebrated the crowning of King Edward VII. The town was decorated for the occasion with flags, bunting and greenery. On the Saturday of the celebrations all the local school children gathered in the Pleasure Grounds to be presented with Coronation Medals.

In October 1908 an afternoon Athletic Sports event was being held for the crew of H.M. Ship Drake concluding in the evening, “weather permitting”, with a “Bicycle Parade in Fancy Costumes with Chinese Lanterns”.

In 1910 a new pierott enclosure was erected in the Grounds to provide shelter from wind and rain during inclement weather. The local newspaper noted that “The Pinkins” had been engaged for the season.

Local and provincial newspapers regularly reported or announced Sunday School Excursions from towns as far away as Cookstown and Londonderry with parties of 600 and 700 children.

Various proposals were made from time to time for more permanent facilities for entertainment but these were not followed through until 1909 with the construction of The Pavilion owned by the Portrush Wintergardens Company.

Later when Barry’s Amusements became a permanent fixture the Trufelli family would build a new home and the Children’s Peter Pan Railway on the remainder of the site overlooking the beach (now the location of Kiddieland Amusements).

The Pleasure Grounds

In the late 1940s the newly formed Ulster Transport Authority (UTA) constructed a modern bus station on part of the site adjacent to Kerr Street. The bus station was large enough to accommodate the normal local bus services and the large number of coach tours offered by the UTA during the holiday season.