Thursday, 23 March 2017

Seaport Stables


SEAPORT STABLES are situated at the entrance to Seaport Lodge in Portballintrae, County Antrim.

They comprises a pair of two-storey, rendered and whitewashed buildings.

The roofs are hipped and slated with leaded ridges and hips.

There is a tall, ashlar, sandstone chimney-stack with equally lofty clay chimney-pots.

The walls are rendered.

The southern block has been converted into a bar and restaurant.
Its principal elevation faces south and comprises four segmental-headed windows at first floor level; and two sash windows at the ground floor, flanking a modern, sympathetically-styled, semi-circular entrance porch.
The western elevation is accessed at first-floor level via a grassy verge.

The southern elevation has a variety of modern window openings and an off-centre modern timber-sheeted door with fanlight.

The eastern elevation is fully abutted by a modern uPVC conservatory.

The northern block has been converted into a dwelling and office, and its main elevation faces south.
The central bay has three glazed oculi at first floor level, over two round-headed windows and a round-headed entrance containing a timber-sheeted door with cast-iron door furniture, surmounted by a four-paned fanlight.
The western elevation has a central, square-headed recess containing a modern timber sash window.

There is a roughcast rendered boundary wall, topped by undressed stone coping, to the Bayhead Road at south; modern rubble-stone wall to entrance at east.

A large, gravel parking area at the front of the southern block.

The coaching stables were originally constructed in the Georgian period, prior to 1832.

No major alteration has been made to the layout of the site in almost two centuries.

The two-storey buildings were formerly utilised as the coaching stables for Seaport Lodge, which was the property of James Edmund Leslie.

In 1832, Portballintrae comprised only a few houses, chiefly occupied by pilots, but near this to the west side of the bay was Seaport House, the summer residence of James Leslie.

The Lodge was built ca 1790, and although its situation was exposed and unprotected, [the location] was admirably calculated for that of a bathing lodge.

Seaport Lodge's coaching stables were probably built at the same time as the main dwelling and were located at the main approach to the estate from the village.

By 1859, occupation of Seaport Lodge had passed to James's brother, Henry Erskine Leslie, who was also recorded as owner of the site.

Henry Leslie continued to reside at Seaport Lodge until his death in 1864, at which time the property passed to his widow, Harriet Ann Leslie.

In 1882, Colonel Edmund Douglas Leslie came into possession of the site and its associated outbuildings, including the coaching stables.

Colonel Leslie resided at Seaport Lodge until 1908, when his nephew, James Graham Leslie (1868-1949) took possession.

Despite the change in ownership during this period, Seaport Lodge remained a summer residence, vacant during both the 1901 and 1911 censuses which were both conducted in the month of April.

James Graham Leslie remained the occupant of Seaport Lodge until 1929.

Historians cite the construction date of Seaport Lodge as ca 1770, despite the Ordnance Survey Memoirs claiming a later date of about 1790.

Sir Charles Brett stated that the dwelling was constructed by James Leslie, soon after the completion of his other main residence, Leslie Hill, in 1772.

James Leslie's ability to erect two major houses within such a short period led Brett to suggest that Leslie "much over-strained the family finances" to realise his ambition of possessing a grand country house with a leisurely seaside retreat.

Local tradition claims that Seaport Lodge was constructed gradually over a period of many years.

The Lodge's main domestic block was the first section of the building to be constructed.

Sir Charles remarked that the two-storey western service wing was added later, most likely in 1827, as that date is inscribed on many of the later wing's wall plates.

It is not known at what stage in the estate's development the pair of two-storey coach stables were erected; however, it was certainly prior to 1832.

Seaport Lodge remained in the possession of the Leslie family until the mid-20th century.

The northern former coaching stable was listed in 1977, and since that time has continued to be privately occupied.

By the 1970s, the two coach stables were no longer utilised as out-offices, but had been converted into a private dwelling named Beach Park and designated Number 6, Seaport Avenue.

In the late-20th century the southern block was converted into a bar-restaurant called Sweeney's; however, the northern block has been maintained as a private dwelling and office space.

As part of the conversion of the site, a modern glass conservatory was added to the eastern elevation of the southern block, whilst the interior was completely refurbished.


A pair of charming Gothic gate lodges once faced each other at the main entrance to Seaport Lodge.

They stood at the main road, the present entrance into Sweeney's (now Bartali).

First published in March, 2015.

1 comment :

Dave Adams said...

Our family spent our summer holidays during the 1950s at one of the large houses that were built on the landward side of the main driveway to Seaport - it was run as a summer guest house by a Miss Reba Lynn. In those days the groynes were still in place on the beach in the bay and there was plenty of sand for we youngsters to play in/ on!
Dave own Under