Story behind creation of iconic North Antrim Coast Road is told

The Black Arch on The Coast Road near Larne.
The Black Arch on The Coast Road near Larne.

The largely unknown story of the creation of the iconic Antrim Coast Road, its history and its people, is to be told in a new three-part television series.

Starting on Sunday, October 9, at 10pm on BBC-Two NI and narrated by actor, Ian McElhinney, Shaping the Coast, reveals life before and after the Antrim Coast Road, whilst also decoding the monumental engineering undertaking and enigmatic genius behind its designer.

Carnlough farmer Charlie McAuley who features in Episode One of new TV programme, 'Shaping the Coast' which airs on BBC-2 on October 9.

Carnlough farmer Charlie McAuley who features in Episode One of new TV programme, 'Shaping the Coast' which airs on BBC-2 on October 9.

In centuries gone by, the Glens of Antrim were seen as a place apart – isolated from the rest of Ulster, pinned in by the Antrim Plateau. It was easier to travel by boat to the Mull of Kintyre than it was to travel overland to Belfast or Ballymena.

Everything changed in 1832, when Scottish engineer William Bald hatched an innovative plan to build a road that would open up the Glens. Rather than consider bridges and other structures, Bald looked to the coast and committed to the bold technique of cliff blasting.

Now a jewel in the crown of this area of outstanding natural beauty, Bald’s achievement has largely been lost to history.

No portrait or bust exists; his only legacy is the impact that the genius of his design has had on the communities of the Antrim Coast.

In episode one, we meet some of the people who live and work along the road and, Andrea Bald, William’s great-great-great-granddaughter and by coincidence, an engineer herself. Andrea has travelled to Antrim from her home in New Zealand to discover more about her elusive ancestor. Episode two uncovers the engineering achievement of Bald and reveals how the Antrim Coast Road has changed the lives of the people of The Glens forever. In episode three, the programme follows Davy Smyth, a third generation Carnlough fisherman who is diversifying into a new tourism venture and Adrian Morrow, Glenarm Castle Estate Manager, and organiser of the annual Dalriada Festival.

Deirdre Devlin, executive producer, BBC NI said: “This beautifully shot series has a fascinating wealth of information about the area, as well as great stories of the history and the people of the Glens.”