NEWRY PORT

From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837

The trade of Newry, now of much importance, has gradually risen to its present height from the protection afforded to the merchants by William III. Prior to that time the river was not navigated above Warren point; Newry being then considered as a creek to Carlingford, which was the port for all this part of the coast. But during the reigns of that monarch and his successors, several grants were made for clearing and embanking the river and improving the harbour. At length, in consequence of the many obstructions arising from the nature of the river, and the advantageous situation of the town as a central mart for the introduction of foreign commodities into the interior of Ulster, it was determined to form a line of inland navigation from Newry to Lough Neagh. The communication is carried on from the Newry water by an artificial cut by Acton, Scarva, Tanderagee, and Gilford to Portadown, where it is connected with the Bann, whence it proceeds in the bed of that river to the lake. It was commenced in 1730, and connected with Lough Neagh in 1741, but in consequence of the inconveniences arising from the accumulation of mud and sand in the mouth of the river, near Newry, it was deemed adviseable to prolong the navigation towards the bay to Fathom: this portion of the work, which is two miles in extent, was completed in 1761; the entire length of the navigation, including that of Lough Neagh, is 36 miles, and the total expense was £896,000.

In 1726, the customhouse was removed from Carlingford to Newry: the amount of the first year's customs paid here was only £1069. 12., and there were then but four trading barks belonging to the port; the gross amount of customs' duties for 1836 was £58,806. 2. 6. About 1758, a very considerable trade was carried on with the West India islands, and although at that time the vessels trading with foreign countries were prohibited from sailing direct to the Irish ports, being compelled to land their cargoes in some place in Great Britain, the Newry merchants succeeded in establishing a very lucrative traffic with the most celebrated commercial marts in other countries. This branch, however, was afterwards nearly lost by the competition of the superior capital of Great Britain, until it again revived after the restrictions were taken off the commerce of Ireland, in 1783.

The port is very favourably situated for trade at the inner extremity of Carlingford bay, an arm of the sea extending nine miles south-east, and two miles in breadth at its mouth between Cooley point, in the county of Louth, and Cranfield point, in that of Down. Vessels of the greatest draught can come up to Warren point, within five miles of the town, where they can ride in from 6 to 8 fathoms of water in all states of the tide in perfect security. Proceedings are also in progress by D. Logan, Esq., in pursuance of a plan recommended by Sir John Rennie, for deepening and securing the channel from Narrow water, and scouring it by a steam dredge and other means calculated to facilitate the admission of vessels of a larger class than those which at present come up to the quays: the total expense of these improvements has been estimated at £90,000.

The despatch of business is also facilitated by the construction of a line of quays on the eastern bank of the canal, bordered by stores and warehouses, at which vessels can unload: farther north are basins or floating docks, where boats navigating the canal can take in and discharge their cargoes. The custom-house, a neat and commodious building, is situated on the quay, in a position well adapted for business, and has extensive yards and stores for bonding goods adjoining it.

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