Banbridge developed around
a bridge constructed over the river Bann in 1712. The town developed
after 1767 when a patent was granted to hold fairs and markets.
Here's a description of Banbridge, written by a visitor there
in 1796 . This photo on the left was kindly sent by Erwin
Matthews and shows The Cut, Banbridge.
"This country in entirely occupied in the manufacture of
linen, but the late troubles have made trade to languish. The
mills, however, are still going, and it is hoped that a year of
peace will restore order and prosperity. Military life was rigorously
enforced here on the inhabitants; they were not permitted to have
lights in their houses after nine o'clock, and any person found
in the streets after that hour was in danger of being arrested.
A fair was held during the time I stayed in this little town,
and it passed over quite peacefully; the soldiers promenaded through
the market-place and obliged women who wore anything green, ribbon
or otherwise, to take it off.....
A vigorous government in Ireland has been able to repress, and
hold in the path of duty, a people discontented and seduced by
the success of the French innovations."
(Joe Canning, "The Stranger in Iveagh," Banbridge District
Historical Society Journal, Vol. 2, Banbridge, N. Ireland, 1990,
A brown linen market was erected
in 1817. It was an important staging post on the main Belfast- Dublin
road. The road very very steep as can be seen on either side of The
Cut. The road was levelled in 1832/4 and the bridge constructed at a
total cost of £ 19,000. The clock tower on the right belongs to
the market house which was constructed on its present site in 1834 at
a cost of £2,000. The original market house was in the centre
of the road, where the bridge now stands. The bridge was rebuilt in
1885, widening it from 23 feet to 46 feet.
In 1828, the Flax Market was held
monthly on a Monday. In 1836 the horse fairs were held on 12th January
& 26th August each year. It was described as the best in the north
of Ireland. Cattle fairs were held on the 1st Monday of each month and
a market on Tuesday. The tolls & customs levied belonged to the
Marquis of Downshire. Petty Sessions were held every fortnight. The
Court House is in Scarva Street and was built by the Marquis of Downshire
in 1830. It is a whinstone building corniced with granite. Its dimensions
are 60 by 50 feet with 2 storeys. On the first storey was the meal and
corn market, a black hole and porter's apartment. On the upper storey
was the court room, at the rear of which was the news room and a retiring
room. The top of the building is surmounted by a cupola, in which there
is a clock with 4 faces. A Board of Commissioners was established in
1828 for the purpose of lighting, paving , watching and cleansing the
town. There were 4 main streets- Newry, Bridge, Scarva and Rathfriland.
In 1841 the popukation of Seapatrick parish was 9528 with the population
of Banbridge being 3324 people.
The Post Office Directory of 1886
says that there was a mineral water factory, a hemstitching factory
& a rope making factory. The population in 1910 was 5006.
here for a photo of Banbridge Railway Station
to see information on schools in the area.
Newspaper articles from Northern
Volunteers Militia meeting 23 Jan 1793; Banbridge Fair notice 6 Mar
Newspaper articles from Down
assizes 25 Feb 1843: address by elite in town 3 Jun 1848: tenants rights
meeting 2 Feb 1850;Ladies' School 8 Sep 1855; Sectarian rioting 13 Jun
1868; poisoned chocolates through the post 3 Jan 1936*
Newspaper article from Newtownards
Tenant Farmers' land meeting 3 Mar 1894