Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Iconic Bessbrook tram replica set for display at Newry Train Station

A beautifully restored full scale replica of the Newry to Bessbrook Tram, originally mooted to be installed as an art piece in the centre of the Camlough Road Roundabout in Newry, is now expected to be put in place at Newry Train Station, due to fears over the potential for vandalism at the busy bypass junction.  

The iconic tram has been painstakingly brought to its former glory over the past five years by students from Southern Regional College, after the dilapidated carriage was rescued from a field in Sturgan Brae, where it had spent 60 years hidden behind a bus shelter there and used as a sheep pen.  

The public art piece project, led by the Camlough Heritage Society, was intended to have been erected at the centre of the Camlough roundabout, where it would have been seen by thousands of passing visitors every day.

Council officials have now recommended the relocation of the piece, with the train station site described as more secure, with  CCTV and heavy footfall leading to “less opportunity for vandalism to occur.”  The Camlough Road area of the city has been a hotspot for anti-social behaviour and stone-throwing attacks in recent years, which is believed to have impacted on the Council decision to relocate the piece.

The restored Bessbrook Tram carriage will take pride of place at Newry Train Station
In December 2014, the ruined carriage from the Bessbrook Tram is retrieved from a field at Sturgan Brae, Camlough where it had lain for more than 60 years

A report to the council’s tourism committee on Monday last revealed that the council have entered into talks with Translink to request the tram be sited at Newry train station. It is understood that Translink have agreed in principle to locate the tram on the gravel area between the car park and platform, where it will be seen by thousands of visitors travelling to the area. .

The committee is being asked to enter into the agreement for a minimum of 10 years to remove the tram from its current storage space to the train station.

Approval to bring the ambitious public art piece to the area was first sought last year. The  stunning restoration of the life-size replica of the iconic tram, which officially opened in 1885 and carried workers and freight to Bessbrook flax mill, will stand two-and-a-half metres tall, stretching to an impressive eight-and-a-half metres.  The art installation will include seated and standing figures depicting passengers and the driver of the tram and is expected to take residence at Newry Train Station later this year.