Work due to start on first Belfast boat lock in 250 years

Construction of the bridge is expected to be completed in 18 months. Credit: UTV

By Barbara McCann

Work is due to start on the first boat lock to be built in Belfast in over 250 years.

It is the initial phase of a £4m project to restore a once thriving commercial waterway in the heart of the city.

The pedestrian bridge, linking Annadale and Stranmillis, is about to become a reality beside the existing weir close to Belfast Boat Club.

Erskine Holmes, chairman of the Lagan Navigation Trust, said it will be a "brand new, modern lock".

He added: "It is going to be usable by boats from the tidal system coming up from the harbour."

This stretch of the River Lagan marks the start of Lagan Canal.

It was originally built in the 1800s to connect Belfast and Lough Neagh by water to export coal being mined in Coalisland and in its heyday it was one of the busiest waterways in Ireland, with thousands of tonnes of goods on barges passing along its route every year.

Now the towpath is a popular spot with walkers and cyclists.

The visionary plan to reopen the canal to navigation is aimed at connecting it to other boat locks along the Lagan bringing jobs, tourism and other business opportunities.

Construction of the bridge is expected to be completed in 18 months in the hope that one day barges will once again be working the waterway .