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Parks and Open Spaces

Diamond Jubilee Wood

Photograph of entrance to Diamond Jubilee Wood

Carrickfergus Borough Council and the Woodland Trust created a living, lasting legacy in Whitehead to commemorate the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, marking Queen Elizabeth's 60th year as monarch. The 60 acre woodland near Bentra Golf Course to the north of Whitehead was officially opened on Saturday 23rd June 2012 by Mrs. Joan Christie OBE, Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim.

About Diamond Jubilee Wood

The woodland contains 60,000 trees including a fruit tree orchard, a 2km of path network, a 1000sqm pond, a Commonwealth Tree Avenue planted with copper beech; wildflower meadows, picnic area and a sculpture designed by artist Kevin Killen and local school children. Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood is one of the 'flagship woods' and the only Diamond Jubilee Wood in Northern Ireland. In total 60 Diamond Jubilee Woods have been planted throughout the UK. Each wood is at least 60 acres in size to symbolise 60 years of The Queen's reign.

Want to take a direct role in the future of Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood?

The Friends of Whitehead Diamond Jubilee Wood is a voluntary group of local residents who want to dedicate some of their time, energy and effort to caring for and improving this green space area. A Friends Group is a number of interested local people coming together with the aim of improving the appearance, facilities, conservation value and safety of their local park. Anyone can join and give as much or as little time as they want.

Opening Hours, Facilities and Location

Diamond Jubilee Wood is open 24 hours a day.

There are picnic and barbequing facilities in Diamond Jubilee Wood, as well as outdoor gym facilities which are all free to use.

Location:

site map of the Wood is available for download.

History

From 1915 to 1917, the site was home to the first military aviation facility in Ireland - one that played an important role in the First World War. Royal Naval Air Service airships based at Bentra patrolled the waters between Ireland and Scotland, combating the German U-Boat menace.

The airships operated from an airship station at Bentra, which had an airship shed comprising a steel frame covered by canvas and 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.

Action in the Air

The primary task for the airships stationed at the Bentra Aerodrome was to protect the Princess Maud cross channel 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.

Images courtesy of PJ O'Donnell

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