Whitehead, County Antrim

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Marine Parade, Whitehead - geograph.org.uk - 264264.jpg
The shorefront
United Kingdom Northern Ireland adm location map.svg
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Location within Northern Ireland
Population3,802 (2011 Census)
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BT38
Dialling code 028
UK Parliament
NI Assembly
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Northern Ireland
54°45′26″N5°42′14″W / 54.757223°N 5.703964°W / 54.757223; -5.703964 Coordinates: 54°45′26″N5°42′14″W / 54.757223°N 5.703964°W / 54.757223; -5.703964

Whitehead is a small seaside town on the east coast of County Antrim, Northern Ireland, lying almost midway between the towns of Carrickfergus and Larne. It lies within the civil parish of Templecorran, the historic barony of Belfast Lower, [2] and is part of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council. Before the Plantation of Ulster its name was recorded as both Whitehead and Kinbaine (from Irish an Cionn Bán 'the white head'). [3]


Located at the base of Muldersleigh Hill, Whitehead lies in a small bay between the limestone cliffs of Whitehead and the black volcanic cliff of Blackhead, with the Blackhead Lighthouse on top, marking the entrance to the Belfast Lough. Whitehead is about 20 miles (32 km) from Belfast. On the opposite coast of Belfast Lough, the Copeland Islands, Bangor and part of the County Down coastline, are clearly visible.

It had a population of 3,802 in the 2011 Census. [4] Whitehead is notable in that there are no roadways with the suffix "Street" in their name, giving rise to the nickname 'The Town With No Streets'.


In late Victorian and Edwardian times, Whitehead was a popular seaside holiday destination developed by and visitors flocked from Belfast and the surrounding area each year. Whitehead is a Victorian railway village with a well preserved conservation area, including the railway station. It is home to the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland, [5] County Antrim Yacht Club and the Council owned Bentra Golf Course, as well as being the starting point for the popular Gobbins Path. The town also was home to an aerodrome during the First World War which housed two airships.

A pioneering Irish railway engineer called Berkeley Deane Wise took this tourism endeavour to the next level, creating innovative new paid-for attractions that would encourage visitors to use the railway company's services. Just south of Gobbins Path, Wise helped transform the tiny hamlet of Whitehead into a premier holiday resort. He designed and built a bandstand, ladies and gents bathing boxes, a ‘children’s corner’, a slipway and a pavilion with 500 seats.

Whitehead received a silver at the Britain in Bloom awards in 2005 & 2006 and a bronze in 2007 with the local Brighter Whitehead group planting many of the flowers. In 2012 Northern Ireland's only Jubilee Wood was planted at Whitehead to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Blackhead Coastal Path

The Blackhead Path was built by the Victorians in 1892, partly funded by the railway company, to attract day trippers and holiday makers to Whitehead which was at the time a growing tourist destination and resort. Wise also built a new path Blackhead Path along the coast from Whitehead to the lighthouse at Blackhead, overlooking the town, in 1892. To reach the lighthouse he added several bridges and a tunnel. Wise soon had ambitious plans for a much more elaborate path built on sheer cliffs a few miles to the north: The Gobbins Path was about to be born. This free accessible path is a seaside walk past Sunshine House, around Blackhead Lighthouse and along the Irish Sea cliffs of Islandmagee.

In 2018 the pathway was closed due to health & safety issues and a possibility of severe landslip. [6] [7] [8] [9] The Mid and East Antrim Council started a full renovation of the whole path in 2019. [10] [11] [12] The path was reopened in July 2020. [13] It was partly closed again 2021 after a landslip. [14]


One primary school exists within the town - Whitehead Primary School. Another school, Lourdes Primary School, operated until June 2011.

Whitehead High School, an all-girls secondary school, was present until its closure in 1986. It is now the site of a nursing home.



The Troubles

For more information see The Troubles in Whitehead, County Antrim, which includes a list of incidents in Whitehead during the Troubles resulting in two or more fatalities. The UDA South East Antrim Brigade lists Whitehead as a base of operations. [15]



Whitehead railway station is on the Larne Harbour to Belfast Central and Belfast Great Victoria Street line. Located on the Northern Ireland Railways network being part of the Belfast Suburban Rail as well as the home of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.


Whitehead had a population of 3,802 people at the 2011 Census, [4] an increase of 2.7% on the 2001 Census figure of 3,702. [19]

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County Antrim County in Northern Ireland

County Antrim is one of six counties that form Northern Ireland. Adjoined to the north-east shore of Lough Neagh, the county covers an area of 3,046 square kilometres (1,176 sq mi) and has a population of about 618,000. County Antrim has a population density of 203 people per square kilometre or 526 people per square mile. It is also one of the thirty-two traditional counties of Ireland, as well as part of the historic province of Ulster.

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Islandmagee Human settlement in Northern Ireland

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Belfast Lough : 45 – 48

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A2 road (Northern Ireland)

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Portballintrae Human settlement in Northern Ireland

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Randalstown Human settlement in Northern Ireland

Randalstown is a townland and small town in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, between Antrim and Toome. It has a very prominent disused railway viaduct and lies beside Lough Neagh and the Shane's Castle estate. The town is bypassed by the M22 motorway with junctions at both the eastern and western ends of the town. It had a population of 5,126 people in the 2011 Census.

The Gobbins

TheGobbins is a cliff-face path at Islandmagee, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, on the Causeway Coastal Route. It runs across bridges, past caves and through a tunnel, along The Gobbins cliffs. The cliffs are recognised for their rich birdlife, important geology and notable species.

Causeway Coast and Glens Local government district in Northern Ireland

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Berkeley Deane Wise

Berkeley Deane Wise was an Irish civil engineer who made a significant impact on the development of railways and tourism, particularly in Northern Ireland.

2014 Mid and East Antrim District Council election

The first election to Mid and East Antrim District Council, part of the Northern Ireland local elections on 22 May 2014, returned 40 members to the newly-formed council via Single Transferable Vote. The Democratic Unionist Party were the largest party in both first-preference votes and seats.

Blackhead Lighthouse

Blackhead Lighthouse is a listed lighthouse built at the turn of the 20th century, near Whitehead in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. It marks the very northern end of Belfast Lough where it opens out into the North Channel that separates Northern Ireland and Scotland. The active lighthouse is managed by the Commissioners of Irish Lights, where it is named as the Blackhead Antrim Lighthouse to distinguish it from the more modern Blackhead lighthouse in County Clare.


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  10. "LA02/2018/0787/F | Install 200m of new armour causeway Install approx. 115m of additional rock armour revetment along the existing concrete revetment to tie in to the existing rock armour slope at the car park Install 200m of new 7m wide concrete path surface Replace 200m of existing kee klamp steel post and rail fence Install approx. 76m length of new stone gabion baskets to act as a retaining wall | Blackhead Path Castletown Whitehead BT38 9PB". epicpublic.planningni.gov.uk. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  11. "LA02/2018/0785/F | Cliff face repairs -scaling operation to remove loose or unstable rocks. PVC coated galvanised zinc mesh panels are to be deployed from the crest and draped down the slope (approx. 1,730m2). Mesh is to be secured at the top by cable, fittings and anchorages. Mesh is to be secured at the bottom by horizontal cables fixed to the rock face. Stainless steel rock bolts will secure large blocks or overhanging pillars and buttresses. Shot-crete to be sprayed across 45m2. | Blackhead Path (land adjacent to the Lighthouse McCrae's Brae) Whitehead". epicpublic.planningni.gov.uk. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
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