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Quite a few years ago and being in the unfortunate position of suffering a long term illness, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. I have quite a long background in computers and IT and one day I was looking at old postcards of Warrenpoint and thought it would be a good idea to start a collection as a hobby. While doing this I realised that not only was there a lot of old cards, there seemed to be quite a few people collecting them as well.

I then came up with the idea of a website that would feature some of these cards and maybe some other old family photos I had come across and started looking into how this was done. At this stage I had absolutely no idea how to go about this, and at the time Internet speeds were very slow. With broadband starting to arrive I thought maybe the time to do this was here. After many trials and tests on free web hosts for a couple of years I eventually managed to get oldwarrenpoint.com up and running in 2005.

Word of mouth soon spread and the site started to attract a fair amount of visitors, I started getting emails from people (both local and abroad) that had fond memories of the times they spent around here and it was at that point that the idea for a web based forum was born. I felt that for every photograph there was a story, and there were very few (if any) places available on-line for those stories to be told, no Facebook, no Twitter, nothing. Again, this was new to me and after a couple of disasters (server crashes and everything) the current version of the oldwarrenpointforum was launched on Sunday May 6th 2007.

At first things moved along slowly, but word of mouth soon spread and soon the site was attracting well over 30,000 hits a day (yes a day!) traffic increased, bandwidth spiraled and daily hits peaked at 45,000 and one day and I found myself struggling to keep the site afloat, then I thought about asking for voluntary donations to help with the costs of running the site (these are many and varied from equipment to hosting and bandwidth) and thankfully some kind members responded and contributed and I am very grateful to them.

Unfortunately like most web based methods of raising funds the donations have more or less stopped, people get bored and move on to other sites such as Facebook and Twitter and no longer feel the need to support sites such as this, so I had to make the decision to allow direct sponsorship on the websites home pages. This allows me to still keep the forum itself more or less advert free but the day is coming when I either take on adverts or close the site. Despite the recent lack of new material, the bandwidth and visitor numbers are staying more or less constant and we now average 30,000 hits a day and 21GB a month of data.

I can certainly say it’s been a steep learning curve, and with new members still joining (at the time of editing this we have over 1700 members) hopefully it will continue for some time. Like all forums it relies heavily on input from its members, and I would like to ask those of you reading this that have not commented or posted any pictures yet to have a go. I often find people with photos that they think would be of no interest, and meet people down the street that start telling me stories about something they looked at or read on the forum, and can assure them that every single photo has something in it and every single story is wanted.

Don’t forget the backgrounds can be just as important as the photo subject, as they tell another story – Cars (or carts) houses shops and even bystanders have all been recognised in the past, so stop thinking nobody wants to see your old pictures, as we do!