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Ards Peninsula, Strangford Lough, The Narrows






02min 29sec





black and white



Department for Communities, ITV, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, UTV Archive

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An interview with the owner of the Amphicar, Major William Brownlow. The amphicar was a road-water car used by the Major to cross Strangford Lough. 

The amphicar was designed to drive both on land and in the water. Initially critics were unsure how safe these craft would be, Time magazine’s Dan Neil described it as, “A vehicle that promised to revolutionise drowning”, according to him, “Its flotation was entirely dependent on whether the bilge pump could keep up with the leakage.” Nonetheless, between 1961 – when they were first produced for public purchase – and 1965 some 4,000 Amphicars were manufactured. Remarkably some 700 remain in existence. Major Brownlow purchased his Amphicar so that he could visit his dog kennels which were on the other side of the Lough from his estate. He spotted the vehicle in 1963 and, before buying it, tested the vehicle in the Thames. It served him well for the next five years, until he persuaded the local authority to run a car ferry.


Major William Brownlow is the subject of a book Parallel Lives by Davina Jones (Belfast, Appletree Press, 2005) 206 pp, 138 black and white illustrations. ISBN 0-86281-963-6. Hardback, £15.99. Brownlows have been living at Ballywhite, Portaferry since 1918. However, their family had originally come from England to County Armagh in 1610, eventually in 1839 becoming Lords Lurgan. This is largely the story of the much respected Major William Brownlow (1921-1998) and his family at Portaferry: his upbringing in England, his army career in the second World War and later, and his considerable contribution to moderate politics, racing and field sports in County Down, culminating with a spell as Lord Lieutenant of the county. The parallel life is that of Agnes White (nee Skillen), also born in 1921, in the Downpatrick gate lodge at Castle Ward, Strangford, where her father was head gardener. The Major fought in the Second World War, in the 7th battalion of the Rifle Brigade, with whom he was posted to the Middle East. He fought against Rommel at El Alamein and, later, at Alam Halfa. He was actually wounded, believed dead, during the final battle of Alamein. After the war he settled in Ballywhite, in County Down. 


A Martin : Stockton Production for UTV.



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