The Magic of Baird's Pleasure Garden
A wee window into Ballyclare’s biggest tourist attraction in the 19th century
Bassett’s Guide to County Antrim, published in 1888, has an eloquent description of this attraction which RT Baird had added to his hotel. It was across Main Street from Ollar Lodge and included a collection of antiquities among which was ’Corney Crymbel’s Stone’, pike heads from the 1798 and artifacts from prehistory.
There were caves and fountains, which squirted water on the passing tourists, and a table which collapsed when they sat down. When building work was going on, an old well was uncovered, which no doubt supplied the water for the effects.
One of the Victorian lantern slides shows the famous bronze lion which, thanks to an employee hidden behind it, roared to startle the clients.