Bygone memories

I have fond memories of

 The Turning bridges: there were five such on the town section of the canal: at Sugar Island; Monaghan Street; Ballybot; and Buttercrane, where the rail crossed the canal; and Dublin Bridge. This was to allow barge traffic bound for Portadown. A bell would sound in the Harbour Master’s Office to alert people. School children used the cry, ‘The bridges were closed!’ as an excuse for their lack of punctuality.

The Level Crossings: where the rail crossed the roads. These were at Edward Street; Monaghan Street; Francis Street; Buttercrane; Dublin Bridge; and Bridge Street, where the Carlingford-bound train crossed. One was a few doors from my aunt’s house. It was manned by a railwayman in a raised signal-box. When the train was due, he rang a bell to alert the public and then closed off the street to allow the train to pass. I fondly remember these lumbering giants gushing steam and all the passengers hanging out the carriage windows as the train passed.

The Electric Tram: This ran from Edward Street to Bessbrook, carrying mill workers and cargo. It was by then, notoriously unreliable, resulting in workers forced to walk, losing time and wages as a result.

Ships in Albert Basin: My father worked ‘on the quay’ loading and unloading coal boats and other cargo. Newry remained a port into the mid-60’s.

Horse-drawn Bakery Carts: There were very few motor vehicles in my childhood years and bakery carts drawn by horses were a common sight. As my aunt’s house was directly opposite Willis’s bakery, we would see the horse-vans lined up in the morning and evening, loading and returning. The streets were often awash with manure!  In the days before artificial fertilizer, this was a great natural and free resource to aid the growth of one’s plants on our allotments, and it was dutifully collected and used as such!



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