43 Rowreagh Rd,
BT22 1AR

If you like being at the dead centre, the Saltwater Brig is about as close you can get, because right next door is the graveyard of neighbouring Lisbane Church, the one used as a setting in the film of Sam Hanna Bell’s locally based novel DECEMBER BRIDE. crew, cast and production team on the film, needless to say, made full use of the facilities offered by this very attractive and individualistic roadside pub.

It’s sitting right on an old stone bridge, hence its name, and at one time this particular sport was of great strategic importance because the two bridges of the period more or less bisected the Ards peninsula. Inside you’ll see a variety of very old maps, including a large copy of the first survey map of the area, done in 1810, when Strangford Lough was also known as Lough Cone.

Also on the walls are various paintings of historical figures and events, such as Napoleon’s surrender, and a number of landscapes by local artists, including two of the pub itself. There’s a superb print from the Linenhall Library of a 17th-century view of Belfast from the banks of the Lagan, a copy of the original 1865 pub licence, costing E3.6s.l d. , and the 1923 Licensing Laws.

The Saltwater Brig has been remodelled and refurbished. The French windows lead out to a pleasant garden where you can drink in the liquor and the sunshine, sheltered behind the rebuilt wall from the traffic on the main road. The large open fireplace was modelled after one in a farmhouse cottage in the Ulster Folk Museum; if you sit down at it and look around the walls, you’ll believe you’re in a game reserve or menagerie – fox, grouse, ducks, otter, kestrel, stoat, mink, falcon, woodcock. They’re all stuffed, of course, and expertly done at that.

Then, behind the counter sits a remarkable, unique mechanical contraption, made by Barry Orr, and said to be a home-brewing device. Try to figure out all the various movements and linkages, and you’ll be ready for any kind of brew! Among all the exhibits and bits and pieces – old swords, a tick book for 1899, a visitors’ book signed by Julian Lloyd Webber – there is one which would be among the rarest or most difficult to acquire – a plaque announcing. THIS IS TO CERTIFY THA T THE SALTWATER BRIG WAS CHOSEN BY THE NORTHERN IRELAND TOURIST BOARD FOR THEIR ANNUAL STAFF OUTING.