A historic bridge linking the neighbouring counties of Derry and Antrim is currently undergoing essential maintenance work.
The bridge at Portglenone dates back some 165 years and is a significant landmark on the River Bann.
Local SDLP Councillor Martin Kearney has expressed his delight that the Department of Infrastructure Structures Section has commenced vital maintenance to the bridge.
“Since becoming a councillor in 2014 I have campaigned for a ‘clean-up’ for this listed bridge, which has been in existence for over 165 years,” he said.
“This bridge is a local landmark and record levels of traffic use it day-in day-out. Designed by Charles Lanyon, who also designed Queen’s University, this bridge was first built upside down locally, with each stone numbered individually, to ensure accuracy of design.
“For the last four years I have been in regular contact with all the statutory agencies responsible for its upkeep.
“Residents on both sides of the Bann and visitors to the area have been in contact also complaining about the overall condition, and in particular, unsightly vegetation, weed growth, dirty pavements and rusty handrails.
“The local Enterprise Group, of which I am a member, have ambitious plans to light up the bridge. A suspended footpath is also being proposed as there is little protection at present for people crossing over.
“With very successful community festivals like ‘The Big Splash’ and ‘The GigntheBann’, and the proposed development by the Mid-Ulster Council leading up to the fishing points at Molloy’s Ford, Portglenone rightfully has received much acclaim for recreation, tourism and entertainment.”
The bridge is said to have replaced a timber structure with a drawbridge which was raised every night to prevent outlaws coming across from the County Derry side of the River Bann and getting into Portglenone.