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Banbridge
Banbridge.jpg
'The Cut' in Banbridge
Banbridge shown within Northern Ireland
Population 16,653 (2011 Census)
District
  • Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon
County
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BANBRIDGE
Postcode district BT32
Dialling code 028
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
UK Parliament
  • Upper Bann
NI Assembly
  • Upper Bann
List of places
UK
Northern Ireland
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Banbridge (/bænˈbrɪ/ ban-BRIJ) is a town in County Down, Northern Ireland. It lies on the River Bann and the A1 road and is named after a bridge built over the River Bann in 1712. It is situated in the civil parish of Seapatrick and the historic barony of Iveagh Upper, Upper Half. The town began as a coaching stop on the road from Belfast to Dublin and thrived from Irish linen manufacturing. The town is the headquarters for Banbridge District Council. It had a population of 16,653 people in the 2011 Census.

The town's main street is very unusual, and rises to a steep hill before levelling out. In 1834 an underpass was built as horses with heavy loads would faint before reaching the top of the hill. It was built by William Dargan and is officially named 'Downshire Bridge', though it is often called "The Cut".

History

Banbridge, home to the "Star of the County Down", is a relatively young town, first entering recorded history around 1691 during the aftermath of the struggle between William III and James II. An Outlawry Court was set up in the town to deal with the followers of James. The town grew up around the site where the main road from Belfast to Dublin crossed the River Bann over an Old Bridge which was situated where the present bridge now stands.

The town owes its success to flax and the linen industry, becoming the principal linen producing district in Ireland by 1772 with a total of 26 bleachgreens along the Bann. By 1820 the town was the centre of the 'Linen Homelands' and its prominence grew when it became a staging post on the mail coach route between Dublin and Belfast. A gift of £500 from the Marquis of Downshire around this time helped to alleviate some problems with the steepness of the road and paid for significant improvements. This industry has now greatly diminished in prominence, but Banbridge still has three of the major producers in Ulster; Weavers, Thomas Ferguson & Co, and John England Irish Linen.

The Cut - geograph.org.uk - 190941
'The Cut' from above
Looking West over Banbridge. - geograph.org.uk - 229179
Housing estates in western Banbridge
A view over Banbridge. - geograph.org.uk - 232492
Housing estates in southern Banbridge
Crozier monument, Banbridge - geograph.org.uk - 232446
The monument to Francis Crozier

Banbridge has staged an annual busking competition and music festival called Buskfest since 2004. Performers often travel long distances to participate. The competition closes with an evening concert composed of performances by world-famous artists.

Recently, Banbridge has been twinned with Ruelle in France.

Townlands

Like the rest of Ireland, the Banbridge area has long been divided into townlands, whose names mostly come from the Irish language. Banbridge sprang up in a townland called Ballyvally. Over time, the surrounding townlands have been built upon and they have lent their names to many streets, roads and housing estates. The following is a list of townlands within Banbridge's urban area, alongside their likely etymologies:

  • Ballydown (from Baile an Dúin meaning "townland of the stronghold")
  • Ballymoney (from Baile Muine meaning "townland of the thicket")
  • Ballyvally (from Baile an Bhealaigh meaning "townland of the routeway")
  • Drumnagally (from Dromainn Ó gCeallaigh meaning "O'Kelly's ridge")
  • Edenderry (from Éadan Doire meaning "hill-brow of the oak-wood")
  • Tullyear (from Tulaigh Eirre meaning "hillock of the boundary")

Demography

2011 Census

It had a population of 16,653 people (6,698 households) in the 2011 Census.

2001 Census

Banbridge is classified as a "Medium Town" (i.e. a town with a population of 10,000-18,000 people) by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. On Census day (29 April 2001), there were 14,744 people living in Banbridge. Of these:

  • 24.4% were aged under 16 years and 16.1% were aged 60 and over
  • 49.5% of the population were male and 50.5% were female
  • 33.7% were from a Catholic background and 63.7% were from a Protestant background
  • 3.3% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

Places of interest

  • Near the town lie the ancient Lisnagade Fort, Legannany Dolmen, and the Loughbrickland Crannóg, constructed around the year 500 AD
  • Thomas Ferguson & Co Ltd factory tours.
  • The town is situated a short distance from the Brontë Homeland in Rathfriland- the church at which Patrick Brontë preached often hosts musical performances by well-known artists, e.g. Eddi Reader.

Transport

Banbridge is on the A1 main road between Belfast and Newry. The nearest railway station is Scarva on Northern Ireland Railways' Belfast–Newry railway line, about 4 miles (6.4 km) west of Banbridge.

Banbridge had its own railway station from 1859 until 1956. The Banbridge, Newry, Dublin and Belfast Junction Railway opened Banbridge (BJR) railway station on 23 March 1859. In contrast with its very long name, this was a short branch line between Banbridge and Scarva. This was followed by the opening of the Banbridge, Lisburn and Belfast Junction Railway between Knockmore Junction and Banbridge on 13 July 1863, which gave Banbridge a more direct link via Lisburn with Belfast Great Victoria Street. Banbridge (BJR) railway station was closed in favour of the new Banbridge (BLBR) railway station.

The Great Northern Railway took over both companies in 1877 and opened a branch line from Banbridge to Ballyroney in 1880. In 1906 the GNR opened an extension from Ballyroney to Castlewellan, where it connected with a new Belfast and County Down Railway branch line to Newcastle, County Down.

In 1953 the governments of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic jointly nationalised the GNR as the GNR Board. On 1 May 1955 the GNRB closed Banbridge's lines to Scarva and Castlewellan. Banbridge (BLBR) railway station closed on 29 April 1956, when the GNRB closed the line from Knockmore Junction.

Pop culture

  • "The Star of the County Down" is a well known song associated with Banbridge.
  • In the film The Day After Tomorrow (2004), a fictitious Sky News broadcast shows a depiction of Banbridge in the midst of an apocalyptic blizzard.
  • One of the Game of Thrones sets is located in Linen Mills Studio, which was converted from a failed linen mill.

Banbridge Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.