Beach Road Nature Reserve

Beach Road Nature Reserve is located in the seaside town of Whitehead and is owned and managed by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. In 2008 the local community group ‘Brighter Whitehead’ received a grant from Better Belfast to make substantial environmental improvements to the reserve.   The reserve is set in an old disused quarry. The headland at theold quarry is know as White Head and it was so called because at one time it had an outer formation of limestone.  Very little limestone remains today due to extensive quarrying, but once limestone beach-rdwas plentiful.

The bulk of the limestone excavated from this area was transported to the Whitehead harbour in bogies hauled by a small steam engine which ran on little railway lines which had been laid from the quarry to the harbour. After most of the limestone had been removed, a considerable trade in broken stone was carried out. Two railway sidings operated from the main line, one adjacent to the railway tunnel, which runs through the headland, and alongside the Beach Road. Large quantities of these stones were used for ballast from dummy ships in the First World War. The foundations of the first villas built in Whitehead were made with stones from the quarry, as were many roads in the surrounding countryside. The quarry closed in the 1920s and later between 1955 and 1982, it was used as the town dump.

Today, Beach Road Nature Reserve is home to a wide range of birds, insects and plants.  The colonisation of the quarry by trees, shrubs and wildflowers has created a home for a diversity of birds and insects.  A wildflower meadow boasting a rich mix of flora and fauna has been created to further enhance the site.

Most notably on site is a pair of breeding peregrines who occupy a ledge on the quarry face about half way up the cliff. They nest from April to July and have bred successfully on several occasions.

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