BROMPTON LADDERS SAVED FROM WATERY GRAVE

BROMPTON Bay’s vanished ladders have been rescued from their watery grave thanks to local swimmers.

Last month, heavy-duty metal steps at the popular Bangor bathing spot were washed out to sea when wild storms wrenched them loose from their moorings – the third set of ladders to disappear that way in the last seven years.

But they’re now back on dry land after being spotted by two sea swimming enthusiasts who were out for their regular dip.

Marie-Therese Davis-Hanson and husband Stephen Hanson found the ladders last Friday, before recruiting two other swimmers to chain a buoy to them marking their spot.

Council workmen were then able to winch the ladders out of the bay, and officials have reportedly pledged to fix them back in place with stronger bolts that may protect them from future storms.

And local swimming group Brompton Belles and Beaux Dippers now plans to fundraise for better handrails to further improve the facilities at Brompton.

Said Alison McWhinney from the swimming group: “The ladders were too heavy to drag to the shore, and we were glad our local council had a robust enough winch to get the ladders from the water and onto the beach.

“We requested additional handrails from the council; however, due to a lack of funding, we now find ourselves in the position of having to fundraise these improvements ourselves.

“We have permission from the council, but we will need to appoint an approved council contractor and pay for the works. Early in the new year, we will launch the fundraiser on our Facebook page and all donations will be greatly appreciated.”

News that the ladders are no longer in Davy Jones’s locker has been welcomed by local Alliance politicians, with MLA Connie Egan describing the rescue operation as ‘a testament to the spirit of the community’.

“Brompton Bay is a beautiful inlet and such an asset to Bangor,” she said. “It is great to see how it has grown in popularity with both locals and others coming from further afield.

“I would urge the council to expedite repair work so swimmers can enjoy a quick dip again soon. I would have concerns that if the infrastructure is not properly upgraded, we could easily see the ladders lost again to bad weather.”

Fellow MLA Andrew Muir said he’s over the moon to see the ladders back on dry land, stating: “We all owe a debt to the local divers and swimming club who have been tireless in their efforts to locate the steps and ensure they were safely recovered.

“It is now imperative that the council carries out work to reinstall and strengthen the structure, making it fit for purpose and able to withstand further storms off the coast.”

Councillor Christine Creighton described the rescue operation as ‘a great news story’, though admitted she’s disappointed that the council has ‘refused to pay for improvements to facilities at Brompton Bay’.

“We are lucky to have such fantastic beaches and suitable swimming spots in the locality, and we should be encouraging more people to take advantage of them,” the Bangor West councillor said.

“Sea swimming is so beneficial to wellbeing and physical health, and it is important that the council plays its part by improving facilities.”