WWII target arrow brings history to life

A unique piece of World War II aviation history in Portstewart has been restored thanks to a group of dedicated community volunteers.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 11:11 am

The previously hidden large concrete arrow used by bomber crews as a training target indicator is visible once again near Rinagree.

Over the years the arrow had become overgrown and had faded from public view. Now, it is a popular point of interest once again along the Port Path at the edge of Portstewart Old Golf Course.

Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Alderman Mark Fielding helped to unveil a new interpretation panel at the site, preserving the story of the arrow and sharing its significance with a new audience.

The World War II arrow has been restored near Rinagree between Portrush and Portstewart thanks to a group of dedicated community volunteers. The arrow is 25 metres long and 18 metres wide

Alderman Fielding said: “The arrow is a fascinating reminder about the role our Borough played during World War II when this stretch of coastline was regularly used for practice by the Royal Air Force.

“Planes would take off from Aghanloo at Limavady and fly at low altitude over Portstewart towards an offshore target, usually a pontoon or marker buoy. On board, they had dummy bombs which they would drop as close as possible to the target.

“The arrow could have been lost forever and we are very grateful to those in the community who worked hard to bring this important piece of our past back to life. Council is pleased to support these efforts by installing this new information panel. I hope visitors and the local community take the chance to explore this new point of interest along the Causeway Coast Way.”

Easily identifiable from the air when first built, the arrow is 25 metres long and 18 metres wide. As part of the restoration process, volunteers cleared away extensive amounts of vegetation before placing white stones around its perimeter.

The World War II arrow has been restored near Rinagree between Portrush and Portstewart thanks to a group of dedicated community volunteers. The arrow is 25 metres long and 18 metres wide

Keen that people could learn more about its significance, Harry Cullen and Cathal Cunning, two of the leading volunteers on the project, approached Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council about providing signage onsite to explain its fascinating story.

Harry said: “Over lockdown I walked the Port Path regularly and was conscious that this piece of living history lay hidden underfoot. This coupled with the 75th anniversary of World War II prompted me to explore the possibility of having the site cleared and its significance highlighted for future generations. I would like to express a special word of thanks to all the volunteers who helped make this happen, these include local greenkeepers, NW200 staff, Portstewart Scout Group and Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council staff.”

The large concrete targeting arrow would originally have been painted white, making it easily identifiable by pilots. The ruins of a small concrete bunker can be seen nearby.

Joe O’Connor, Ron Galbraith, Tommy Henry, Harry Cullen and the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and Mayoress, Mrs Phyllis Fielding, pictured at the unveiling of the new information panel at the site of the World War II arrow between Portrush and Portstewart.
Pictured at the unveiling of the new information panel to mark the site of the World War II arrow are Graham Lowe, Richard Engall (Portstewart Golf Club), Siobhan McKenna, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Tourism team, Tommy Henry, Cathal Cunning (Chief Marshall North West 200) and Harry Cullen along with the Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council Alderman Mark Fielding and Mayoress, Mrs Phyllis Fielding