A vessel that once belonged to the Lambeg Bleaching & Dyeing Co in the 1920’s has returned to the Lagan Canal at the Lock Keepers Cottage.
The mooring of the original 1871 Industry Barge is the first stage in an extensive restoration programme to restore the original Lagan Lighter entitled ‘Industry’ back to its former glory.
Once refurbished, the Industry Barge will contain an exhibition focusing on the history of the Lagan Navigation and the workings on the Locks, along with a set showing the living conditions of the Lighterman and his family. The barge will also be available for private hire for persons and groups.
Supported by the Lagan Rural Partnership through the Northern Ireland Rural Development Programme, the project aims to increase the service provision for visitors in the area by enhancing the heritage and tourism product associated with the historic Lagan Navigation at Lock III.
Gareth Evans from the Department of Agriculture said, “This project is a perfect working example of delivery on the ground made possible under the RDP.
“It is estimated that 750,000 people visit the lagan tow path and this project will provide them with a real glimpse of our rural past and industrial heritage, and the important role canals played in it.
“This hopefully will also give impetus to the re-opening at some point of the whole of the Lagan canal right through to Lough Neagh and the resulting increase in footfall to rural areas.”
Chair of the Lagan Rural Partnership Joint Council Committee, Anne-Marie Beattie said, “Lagan Rural Partnership is delighted to fund this project which will attract even more visitors to the Lock Keeper’s site and raise the profile of both Lagan Valley Regional Park and the Lagan Canal as a leading rural tourism attraction.”
Mayor of Castlereagh, Alderman Jack Beattie MBE said, “I am thrilled that Lagan Canal Restoration Trust discovered the barge and it can be returned today to its rightful home on the Lagan Navigation.
“It is hoped the barge will not only add a nostalgic feel to the area, but it will also complement the existing facilities on site and provide visitors with an exquisite piece of Northern Ireland history.
“I wish to thank the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and the EU and Lagan Rural Partnership.”
The restoration is scheduled to be completed later this year. For more information ring Yvonne on 028 9093 7413.