Northern Ireland news

Second lorry hits Banbridge bridge in two days

The lorry which was damaged in last night's collision. Picture from Gary McDonald on Twitter

A second lorry has struck The Cut in Co Down in the space of 24 hours.

On Monday evening a goods lorry became jammed in the underpass in Banbridge, causing severe damage to the vehicle and forcing police to close the Newry Street route while it was removed.

It happened 24 hours after a lorry damaged its roof while driving under the bridge. The driver apparently did not realise what had happened on Sunday and drove for another 10 miles.

Images of last night’s crash, which showed the lorry wedged under the bridge, spread on social media.

“Remember, only the fire service are qualified to make your motor a convertible by the road side, but you really don't want that to happen,” the PSNI wrote on its Banbridge page.

“First up, if you're driving a vehicle you're not used to, make sure you know its dimensions!!...

“Secondly, if you're driving a larger vehicle, especially one with a cab where you maybe wouldn't feel a smaller impact, if you have even a suspicion you've hit something - pull over!!...

“If it happens to be a railway bridge you hit, you must immediately use the phone beside the bridge to contact NIR (Northern Ireland Railways).

"There's no way of telling what structural damage could be caused by a bridge strike, and those trains aren't light.”

The Cut was reputedly one of the first fly-overs in Europe when it was built by famous Irish road and rail engineer William Dargan in 1834.

And the latest incident may hasten calls for the route to be restricted to cars only, thus taking commercial vehicles away from the town altogether.

The Cut, which is straddled by Downshire Bridge (sometimes also referred to as Jingler's Bridge after a lady called '˜The Lurgan Jingler' who kept an apple stall there in the 1800s), was carved through the centre of Banbridge to give easier passage to horse and carts making the journey from Belfast to Dublin.

It was an engineering marvel in its day, completed at an expense, including the erection of the viaduct and the formation of its approaches, of £19,000 – a phenomenal sum at the time.

Indeed The Cut and its approaches provide a feature that makes Banbridge like no other town in Ireland.

But with the advent of modern transport, drivers of high-sided vehicles have been caught out down the years.

Indeed one of my first stories as a trainee journalist in the Banbridge Chronicle in the late 1970s was to report on how the entire top deck of a double decker bus was literally sliced off, injuring a number of people including children. Thankfully there were no fatalities.

On another occasion a lorry got completely stuck under the bridge, and it took engineers the best part of a day to dislodge it (letting the tyres down proved the ultimate solution).

Indeed the Chronicle office at that time overlooked The Cut, and crashes into the bridge were an every three- or four-month occurrence, with damage invariably caused to the lorries as well as the drivers' ego.

Such is the sturdy brick structure of the bridge that it has always remained standing. But how many more knocks can The Cut take?

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