Downpatrick Hit Again Now With Killyleagh Bridge Failure

Downpatrick is going through a difficult period as early this morning cracks appeared on the Quoile Bridge in Downpatrick.

Quoile Bridge shows cracks in its structure and is closed for the time being

Downpatrick is going through a difficult period as early this morning cracks appeared on the Quoile Bridge in Downpatrick.

The heavy flooding in the River Quoile has put pressure of the structure of the Killyleagh Road Qoile bridge. A length crack between the road surface and the bridge parapet wall appeared this morning early and efforts were made to close the bridge.

By lunchtime, Roads Service had arrived and assessed the situation and decided to close the bridge off for safety reasons until the DfI has structurally assessed it.

The Quoile bridge over the River Quoile – showing the blockage at the base of the pillars.

Large concrete blocks were put in place to prevent pedestrian and vehicular access to the bridge on the KIllyleagh side and a diversion is now in place through the Finnebrogue Road to the Belfast Road.

A large build up of silt, mud and debris has clogged up some of the tunnels under the bridge and the remaining flow of water rushing under the bridge columns has put pressure on them, possibly making the bridge completely unsound.

There is no heavy load limit on the bridge which has been in place for around 250 years and lorries and buses regularly use it.

Patrick Brown Alliance MLA who visited the bridge said: “The South Down Alliance group have been saying for a long time that the river needs dredged and the bridge maintained.

Patrick Brown Alliance MLA on the Quoile Bridge.

“I have made a representation to the Department of Infrastructure already about this. The bridge looks really unsafe and thank goodness it has closed before someone was injured or killed.

“The problems we see in Downpatrick with the flooding and with the bridge’s structure are likely a result of essential maintenance work not being done in the River Quoile.

“I spoke to an official this morning and he said that it appears that a build-up in sludge and debris has caused the river water to pop out some of the large bricks.

“This will again cause significant traffic disruption in Downpatrick which is already suffering from the floods a week ago.”

The River Quoile is also badly blocked up at the Belfast Road bridge outside Downpatrick and this too is preventing water from flowing out of the Quoile water system into Strangford Lough.”

SDLP Councillor Conor Galbraith looks over the parapet at the Quoile Bridge to the mound of debris and mud that appears to be blocking the river flow.

SDLP Councillor Conor Galbrath was also on the scene looking over the unfolding road closure with dismay.

Cllr Conor Galbraith said: “This is frightening. It took this major flood to raise the issues about the River Quoile and the bridge maintainence.

The crack that has appeared on the Quoile Bridge necessitating a month of repairs by the DfI.

“It looks like the bridge could fall apart unless some major work is done on it. I saw a very long crack about an inch wide between the road surface and the wall suggesting there had been some significant pressure on the bridge structure.

“I really hope the Rivers Agency comes down today and examines this issue.

“Questions need to be asked about the flooding and the state of our bridge. The SDLP will lobby on behalf of the residents and businesses effected by the recent problems facing Downpatrick.

“Local people depend on this bridge to get to work and school, and it is a choke point in the road north up the side of Strandford Lough to Ards and North Down.”

Down News will seek a response from the Department of Infrastructure Roads Service and the Rivers Agency.

The Down Community Health Committee has in the past couple of days released a statement about the poor response times of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service for Category 1 cases in the East Down (Downpatrick) area.

This bridge closure which could last two months or more will further congest traffic on the main road without an inch of carriageway to Belfast hospitals (and to the Ulster Hospital via Ballygowan).

And Sinn Féin MLA Cathy Mason said it was just adding to the difficulties that Downpatrick already faced.

Sinn Féin MLA Cathy Mason looks over the closed Quoile bridge.


Downpatrick Traders Pick Up The Pieces

In the meantime, Downpatrick traders are trying to pick up the pieces after thew catastrophic flood in the town a week ago which saw many shops flooded, some under 5-feet of water contaminated with sewage.

Some shops are closed, and may not open again. Others are clearing out the water damage and filling skips, while others are drying out their premises with industrial dehumidifiers, and disinfecting and wiping down walls, floors, woodwork and windows. Carpets and floor tiles were destined for the skips.

Some less fortunate traders have salvaged stock and are having clearance and pop-up sales. Many when they returned to their flooded shops saw a scene of devastation as goods floated about in dirty water, ruined.

And some business owners cited a figure of up to £100,000 to get back to where they were, and one businessman said his losses would run well into a few hundred thousand.

Sadly, only a few of the businesses impacted by the flood had managed to get some flood cover. The others are hoping for the NIO and other Departments to help them in their hour of need. But the Secretary of State only offered £15 million for the South Down area to cover Newry which was badly affected, having 100 businesses under water.

The Newry Chamber of Commerce has said that this is just not enough to meet the needs of the stricken traders in South Down.


ASDA store in Downpatrick is currently closed. Due to subsidence, structural engineers will be inspecting the premises to decide on the building’s future. Staff are currently being deployed in other ASDA stores in the Down area, but there is a fear redundancies may unfold going forward.

ASDA Still Closed But Is Organising Deliveries and Phone Orders

The ASDA store in the Downe Retail Park on the edge of Downpatrick, and close to the River Quoile basin, is faced with an uncertain future.

The floor has subsided and a smaller part of the ceiling has collapsed. The ground that the store was build on was always succeptible being built on soft, marshy ground.

Employees had a meeting with the staff last Friday and they are currently working in other ASDA stores in the wider area. No-one knows yet the full severity of the structural issues, and some of the staff may face redundancy if ASDA has to find a new site to relocate to in the medium to longer term.

Adjacent to the ASDA block are Pound Stretcher, Peacocks, and Harry Corry who also may be facing similar issues with structural subsidence. These businesses are also currently closed.

However, New Look, Costa, Argos and Halfords remain open and are running business as usual. McDonald’s had a short spell of closure but they too are up and running.

At the traders’ meeting held in the RGU last Wednesday, there was a call for setting up a Downpatrick Chamber of Commerce.

More recent efforts to set up representative bodies have fallen by the wayside, but there was ever a more pressing time than now in the County town of Down to set up a chamber that serves the interests of all of the businesses in the town and wider area.