John McCullagh September 2, 2008
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So one sunny Sunday morning a few days later I headed out, armed with a camera.  I set off to find and photograph that place of childhood memories.

The place that I speak about is an old railway bridge on the now long-defunct Newry to Goraghwood line; it is the bridge that carried the railway across the Bessbrook River.

 

The Camlough/Bessbrook River rises in the Camlough hills and flows down past the Village of Camlough and then on through the model Village of Bessbrook where it feeds and supplies the water to top up the mill pond that powered the once famous Bessbrook Mill. This same little river then egresses Bessbrook Village past the old tram terminus at the place where the Army used to have their helicopter landing area, and during the times of those thankfully-past troubles, that landing area used to be the biggest heliport in Europe.

 

Our meandering little stream then wends its way to Millvale where its 28 foot head of water (as compared to that river’s level at Bessbrook) was used to good effect at one time to create the hydroelectric power that energised and drove the Newry to Bessbrook electric tram.

 

Onwards flows the little river passing under the Craigmore viaduct (The Eighteen Arches). This main line railway viaduct was designed by Sir John O’Neill and was opened in 1852 and, at a quarter of a mile in length and a height of 126ft at its highest point it makes Craigmore viaduct the longest and highest in Ireland.

 

The Bessbrook River flows under the highest arch of the Craigmore viaduct and then wends its way past the old Craigmore Mill.

What a lot of people might not know is that another small waterway also used to pass under the Eighteen Arches. It passed under the next arch on the northern side from that of the Bessbrook River. This waterway was the mill race. It was an outlet taken from the Bessbrook River and by means of a sluice gate it controlled the level of water in the mill pond that at one time powered Craigmore Mill.

… wading the river …

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