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Historic Building Details

HB Ref No:

Extent of Listing:

Date of Construction:
1760 - 1779

Address :
Ballyskeagh Bridge Ballyskeagh Road Lisburn Co Antrim


Survey 2:

Date of Listing:
03/10/1981 00:00:00

Date of De-listing:

Current Use:

Former Use

Conservation Area:

Industrial Archaeology:





OS Map No:

IG Ref:
J2883 6691

Owner Category

Exterior Description And Setting

This twin-span masonry arch bridge carries the Ballyskeagh Road high over the Lagan Navigation, here running in a rock-cut channel. One arch spans the water and the other the former towpath on the east bank, now a public footpath. The bridge is built of Triassic sandstone throughout. The abutments and pier are of dressed sandstone blocks, brought to courses and embellished with vee-jointed cut stone quoins. As the pier rises from the bank, there was no need for a cutwater on the pier. There are towrope marks on its quoins. Both arches have semicircular profiles; that over the water is taller and wider than that over the footpath. They have vee jointed cut sandstone voussoirs which are stepped into the spandrels and also raised keystones. The main span has three putlog holes at arch spring level. The soffit has been reinforced with concrete, cast in situ. There is also a tie bar holding its sides together at crown level. The soffit of the footpath arch has been gunited (previous survey notes indicate that it was brick). A string course runs around the abutments and pier at arch spring level. The spandrels are of squared rubble, with a string course over. The parapets are of random sandstone rubble, with some quarried basalt and Silurian shale admixture, all coped with concrete. However, sandstone coping blocks, possibly original, survive at the west end of the north parapet. The carriageway comprises two lanes, but no footpath. Pedestrian traffic is carried on a modern single-span metal girder footbridge just north of the road bridge. An electric cable is carried across the outside face of the north parapet. A steep flight of concrete steps runs up the SE side of the bridge. This is probably a modern rebuild of the steps which enabled the lock keeper (who lived in the lock house immediately SE of the bridge) to access a lock just north of the bridge. There is a twentieth century steel footbridge that spans the same distance adjacent on the North side.


Thomas Omer

Historical Information

The government-appointed ‘Corporation for promoting and carrying on an Inland Navigation in Ireland’ was responsible for the construction of the Lagan Navigation between Belfast and Lisburn. It is termed a navigation rather than a canal because it was essentially the river, bypassed in places with artificial cuts, rather than a stillwater canal proper. Work commenced at the Belfast end in 1756 under the direction of the canal engineer Thomas Omer and the canal opened in 1763. The Ballyskeagh Road, which is carried by the bridge, was one of the main routes between the two towns until the opening of the present road via Dunmurry in the 1810s. It would not, of course, have been necessary to have had a bridge here prior to the cutting of the canal. The bridge was sketched by William Legge in 1816 and shows it much as it appears today. Interestingly, timber spars are shown across the navigation arch at spring level. Whether they were vestiges of the falsework erected when the arch was being constructed, or to keep the abutments apart (or both) is uncertain. The navigation was officially abandoned for commercial traffic in 1956 but has been kept watered as a recreational amenity. References – Secondary sources 1. Green, E.R.R. The Industrial Archaeology of Co Down, p.70 et seq (Belfast: HMSO, 1963). 2. McCutcheon, W.A. The Industrial Archaeology of Northern Ireland, pp 55-56 (Belfast: HMSO, 1980). 3. Brett, C.E.B. Buildings of North County Down, pp 248-249 (Belfast: Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 2002). Legge's picture is reproduced on p.248

Criteria for Listing

Architectural Interest

A. Style B. Proportion C. Ornamentation D. Plan Form H-. Alterations detracting from building J. Setting K. Group value

Historic Interest

V. Authorship W. Northern Ireland/International Interest Z. Rarity


Along with Moore's Bridge at Lisburn, this is the only example on the Belfast-Sprucefield section of the Lagan Navigation where the towpath runs under a road. Unlike the former bridge, however, this one had an inherent design flaw in that it was necessary to unhitch the towrope in order for the barge and horse to pass through their respective arches. Architecturally, this is one of the most impressive canal-related bridges in Northern Ireland in terms of its scale, proportion and quality of workmanship. Along with the canal cut hereabouts, it would have been the biggest single item of civil engineering work on the entire navigation. It is also a striking feature of the riverscape, and has group value with the adjacent former lock keepers house HB19.09.003.

General Comments

Date of Survey

05 June 2010