Tag Archives: Lagan

Lagan Navigation: Ballyskeagh High Bridge

A brief account here, with some photographs and some thoughts on the design of the locks of the Lagan Navigation.

Drum on the Lagan

I was introduced to two places on the Lagan Navigation last weekend. The first was Drum Bridge; here is a page about it.

UC@NIA

The Northern Ireland Assembly mentioned the Ulster Canal twice on 20 February 2012; the Lagan was mentioned too. Nothing new, really.

Canal parties

I wondered recently whether the proposed canal to Clones was really a Sinn Féin canal. And I have also wondered whether the proposed restoration of the Lagan Navigation was a Unionist riposte, to be undertaken without the involvement of cross-border implementation bodies. With Michael McGimpsey having supported it, I thought of it as an Ulster Unionist project: although there seems to have been some DUP interest in at least some aspects, I’d have thought the Upper Bann was more DUP territory, with at least part of the Lower Bann staunchly supporting Ulster Scots heritage.

Now (h/t Industrial Heritage Ireland) comes news that the SDLP has got itself a canal: it wants the Newry Canal to be handed over to Waterways Ireland by the four local authorities that currently own it. This would extend the influence of the cross-border body into another area of Northern Ireland and bring it even into Portadown.

The Newry and Portadown Branch of the IWAI wants the thing restored and no doubt the local authorities (who have maintained it as a popular walking and cycling route) would be glad to get it off their budgets. Waterways Ireland, alas, remains deaf to my blandishments and is determined to have the Ulster Canal made navigable instead of setting up a walking and cycling route, and no doubt it would welcome having the good folk of Newry and Portadown lobby for it to get United Kingdom taxpayers’ money (if there ever  is any to spare) to restore the Newry Canal.

But the major question that nobody has answered is this: what is the Alliance Party doing? What canal does it want restored?

 

The Liffey before the Lagan

According to the Heritage Boat Association, the Guinness jetty on the Liffey was built in 1873, but the first steamer, the Lagan, was built in 1877. The Guinness Storehouse‘s fact sheet confirms the 1873 date, but is vague about when the first boats were built. So why the four-year gap? Why would Guinness build the jetty before it had the boats to use it?

At the half-yearly meeting of the proprietors of the Midland Great Western Railway Company, held on 7 September 1876, the Chairman (Sir Ralph Cusack) said that the largest trader on the Royal Canal (owned by the MGWR) was about to retire from business because of ill health. Sir Ralph said:

[…] it might be very inconvenient to persons in the country, who carry on the canal materials that are not exactly suited for a railway, such as coals, timber, slates, bricks, etc. […] it is therefore our intention to commence — perhaps in a small way at first — carrying with a couple of boats on the canal, so as to relieve the railway of this rough kind of traffic, and at the same time to benefit the country through which the canal runs. [Irish Times 8 September 1876]

Sir Ralph said that the company had ordered a small steamer:

We don’t propose that the steamer shall carry goods, but we propose to have a few small tugs similar to those used by Sir Arthur Guinness on the Liffey to draw laden boats. […] we will begin in a small way and see what way the thing will do. We cannot lose very much by it. We are getting one small tug, and I suppose we will get another.

So in 1876, one year before the Lagan was built, Guinness was using dumb barges, towed by small tugs, on the Liffey.

 

More workboats

Here is a very long page showing working boats that are not operated by Waterways Ireland. They include hotel boats, restaurant boats, trip boats, rescue boats, police boats and sand barges.