Belfast Telegraph

Blair Mayne's home on market for cut-price £625k after rising from ashes of fire

By Rebecca Black

The home of one of Northern Ireland's best-known war heroes is being offered for sale for a fraction of the multimillion-pound price tag it was once advertised for.

Highly decorated SAS soldier Blair Mayne was born in the historic Mountpleasant house in Newtownards in 1915.

However, the history of Mayne's former home stretches back even further.

It was originally built as a farmhouse in the 1600s in the shadow of Scrabo hill.

The property was burnt down by rebels during the United Irishmen's 1798 uprising, and was then rebuilt as a gentleman's residence in 1820.

It was bought by Mayne's father, Thomas, in 1840 to raise his growing family.

Then, in 1977, Mountpleasant was listed as a building of historical interest.

During later conversion work on an old potato house, guns were found in a chimney breast that are thought to have been smuggled into the country by the Ulster Volunteer Force in the 1920s.

The property remained as a family home until it was placed on the market in 2004. Then full of period features, the house was offered for sale for £4m, but the interior was left gutted following a number of fires in 2006.

It has since been completely renovated, and includes four bedrooms, three reception rooms, a large basement and a garage, as well as potential to expand into the attic and to the side of the house over the garage.

The house is being offered for sale for £625,000 by Templeton Robinson Estate Agents. A spokeswoman said that the company had received a number of expressions of interest in the property, which she described as a "very special place".

Mayne attended Regent House Grammar School, where he excelled at rugby and went on to play for Ireland, and studied law at Queen's University, Belfast, where he became Irish Universities heavyweight boxing champion in 1936.

But it was during his military service in World War Two that the Newtownards man distinguished himself even further, leading audacious raids in northern France following the evacuation of troops at Dunkirk, and later fighting Vichy French forces in Lebanon. Mayne was hand-picked to become one of the first members of the newly formed SAS in 1941, after which he took part in night raids deep behind enemy lines in Egypt and Libya, destroying enemy aircraft on the ground.

He was later awarded the Distinguished Service Order and mentioned in despatches.

However, his supporters to this day claim that he deserved the Victoria Cross, and a campaign to award him the honour posthumously is still active.

After the end of the war, Mayne joined a survey of Antarctica before later becoming the secretary of the Law Society of Northern Ireland.

During this time he planted many of the trees and shrubs that can now be seen at Mountpleasant.

On December 14, 1955, the war hero and living legend was tragically killed in a car accident.

Newtownards came to a standstill on the day of his funeral, with many of his former SAS colleagues attending.

In 1997, a statue was erected in Conway Square in the town in his memory.

Belfast Telegraph


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