I’M extremely privileged, having a picturesque little lake a few yards from my current abode near Glengormley.

There are also several small rivers and streams nearby, meandering through forests, parks and undulating hills to Belfast Lough.

After nearly a year of working from home, this has become my daily déjà view, and with lockdown restricting any significant journeys, I can only dream about the expansive waterways of Lough Erne with the Atlantic beyond.

Nor have I wandered Bangor’s wonderful coastal path lately – one of my favourite, local, seaside walks.

NI Water is currently constructing two new underground wastewater pumping stations there, replacing the old, outdated infrastructure at the Brompton Road and Stricklands Glen locations.

While underground pumping stations don’t generally boast creative potential, a unique collaboration between Bangor’s Seaside Revival Vintage Festival, NI Water and some local historians has proved otherwise.

The site works require large hoardings for health, safety and security reasons, which Seaside Revival, NI Water and the historians have utilised to hang exclusive exhibitions of old photographs and postcards.

Each image is of historical significance to the area and has been meticulously researched by dedicated local historian Robin Masefield, with contributions from Betty Armstrong, Ian Wilson and North Down Museum.

The exhibitions at two locations “perfectly embody the Seaside Revival ethos of connecting people to their past while building a future together,” Seaside Revival co-ordinator Caroline McCoubrey told me.

Local historian Robin Masefield was the inspiration behind the project. While out walking shortly after excavations began, it occurred to him that there must be a way to decorate the hoardings with local historical content.

“I am thrilled both with the positive response of NI Water and the creative energy of the Seaside Revival team and fellow contributors,” Robin told me.

“The project has brought to life aspects of the past which have real local significance,” he added, “and we believe the walking public will find it fascinating. We hope this may be a model for elsewhere, too.”

Some 11 large images were selected for the hoardings, with six displayed at Brompton and five at Stricklands Glen.

Some are well-known local scenes, such as the Ladies Diving Board at Skippingstone, and Jenny Watt’s Cove.

Others are less familiar, such as the old Malayan-style bungalow tea house at Stricklands Glen, the Girl’s Home of Rest at Brompton, and former all-Ireland diving champion and first ever Ladies Captain at Carnalea Golf Club, Marguerite Absolum McMurry.

There are also historic images of the home green at Royal Belfast (now Carnalea) Golf Club, Smelt Mill Bay, and Carnalea Railway Station.

Each display bears a QR (Quick Response) code which, when scanned on a smartphone, directs the viewer to the Seaside Revival website to peruse fuller information.

For instance, the history of Stricklands Glen on the website, compiled by Bangor Historical Society’s Ian Wilson, goes back to 1789 when Robert Ward granted a lease for life to John Strickland, of land already in his possession: eight acres at Bryansburn containing a flax mill.

This, it’s assumed, is the origin of the name ‘Stricklands Glen’. When Bangor Urban District Council purchased the glen from Col. Sharman-Crawford in 1913, they laid out the paths and bridges which are still there today.

Welcoming the opportunity to support the innovative scheme, Catherine Watkins, NI Water Project Manager for the hoardings project, said: “NI Water appreciates the long-running association with sea swimming in the Brompton area, and is delighted to support Seaside Revival’s initiative and have these fabulous history boards adorn our site hoardings.”

Information on the extensive work being carried out at Brompton Road and Stricklands Glen, and the environmental benefits it will deliver to the local community, can be viewed alongside the history boards.

The historic photographs and images will remain on the hoardings for the duration of the construction.

Organised by Open House Festival and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s ‘Great Place Scheme’, Seaside Revival is a celebration of all things vintage, local and seaside-inspired and aims to re-position Bangor as a modern seaside town while paying tribute to its rich cultural past.

A wonderful old postcard didn’t survive the very competitive selection procedure for inclusion in the sea-walk display.

However, Robin Masefield has allowed me to share it here exclusively because it’s particularly relevant in these trying times when it’s safer to meet up, if we must, outside.

“Just a sniff of Bangor air makes you frisky, young and fair,” the old 1910 postcard proudly proclaims.

Robin likes its up-to-date message, amongst a number of old Bangor postcards on the hoardings.

He told me that the note written on the back of the card reads “it’s a pity you weren’t here to get a sniff of this air. I have tried it and it is grand!”

You can check out the website at: https://www.openhousefestival.com/seaside.../niwaterproject.