THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Decision to bury Blackstaff River welcomed in Belfast

From the News Letter, April 22, 1881

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 6:00 am
The culverted mouth of the Blackstaff at the Belfast Gasworks. Photo © Rossographer (cc-by-sa/2.0)
The culverted mouth of the Blackstaff at the Belfast Gasworks. Photo © Rossographer (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Ambitious plans to culvert the Blackstaff River were published in the News Letter on this day in 1881. The scheme, which had been advanced by Mr Montgomery, the borough surveyor, entailed the diversion of the river, the construction of a double culvert and the levelling of the adjacent ground.

In the opinion of the News Letter the culverting of the Blackstaff was not before time.

The paper remarked: “Time was when the Blackstaff ran through the suburbs little more polluted than a mountain burn. Now it has become the greatest eyesore in the town.”

There many who supported the scheme being advanced by Montgomery but they were still not agreed how to use the reclaimed land once the work was completed.

The News Letter noted: “One party demands that the site shall be made available for the erection of business premises.

“Another insists that an obstacle to the regularity of the town shall be removed.

“A third asks that the noxious exhalations shall no longer be allowed to poison the air.

“All agree that the Blackstaff must be buried out of sight, and that under a noble avenue devoted to the purpose of trade a standing grievance of the critics of municipal shall be hidden.”

The works were to begin at “the Paper Mill Bridge” and end at “the Dublin Bridge” and it was planned that both bridges would eventually be demolished and the roadway at Cromac Street would be lowered.

Meanwhile, the old reservoir that stood in the area was to be removed and the earth disturbed by the works would be used fill in the current course of the Blackstaff.