Cut along to The Cut.
In truth, this is not so much a thing to do as a thing you cannot really avoid. If you come to Banbridge, you simply cannot avoid The Cut, as it is colloquially known, so I might as well fill you in on a little of the history.
The Cut is, as far as I know, a unique road feature in Northern Ireland if not the whole island of Ireland. It was built in 1834 to the design of William Dargan, a noted Irish road and rail engineer who originated from Carlow in what is now the Republic of Ireland. Coincidentally, Carlow is one of the twin towns of Banbridge.
Prior to The Cut being built, the road was very difficult for horses to traverse due to the steep hill, moreso if they were heavily laden, so the road was excavated for a length of 200 yards and to a depth of 15 feet, leading to the situation you see now. It was built that high to allow high vehicles like the mail coach to pass under. Banbridge is on the main route from Belfast to Dubllin so there must have been a fair amount of traffic. As the road was so wide, they decided to leave the carriageways on either side as well.
The whole construction cost £19000, an absolute fortune in those days.
The Bridge over The Cut used to be known as Jingler's Bridge after a lady from Lurgan who had the apple stall there, although it was subsequently renamed Downshire Bridge in 1892 to mark the coming of age of the 6th Marquess of Downshire, the local bigwig.
Well, I amnot suggesting you travel from far and wide to see this thing but, at least if you do pass by, you know a bit about it now.Related to:
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Not much solitude, really.
I remember when I lived in Northern Ireland over 20 years ago, Solitude Park in Banbridge was really rather run down and the haunt of gangs og intimidating and generally drunken youths. On a recent return to the town, I was very pleasantly surprised by the transformation in the place, obviously the result of a large capital expenditure.
Pleasantly situated on the banks of the Bann river, from which the town derives it's name, there are pleasant walks, an observation platform over the river and a sort of amphitheatre affair providing the centrepiece. Also, for a park this size it has the greatest number of brand new toilets I have seen.
There is a general railway theme running through the park, as evidenced by the signal (pictured) at the Bridge Street entrance. This commemorates the long since defunct railway that, in it's heyday connected the main Belfast - Dublin line at Scarva to the town and then later continued to Newcastle. The old station closed in 1957 but the park remains a nice reminder of it.
Certainly the youngsters are still there but now seem to be happy playing hockey and riding skateboards rather than smashing bottles and picking fights. Maybe there is hope for the place yet!
The park is open 0800 - 1800 November to March and 0800 - 2100 April to October, admission free and it appears to be disabled friendly.Related to:
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