Heritage Trail Glimpses into the Industrial Past of East Belfast

A new heritage trail, which will offer Belfast locals and visitors a glimpse into its great industrial past, was launched today, 4th October in east Belfast. The Connswater Industrial Heritage Trail, a collaboration between Connswater Community Greenway Trust and The Very Local History Group, is a self-guided trail highlighting the industries that once flourished along the banks of the east Belfast rivers. Through research and memories, the voices of east Belfast residents past and present, who worked in these industries, are brought to life through this colourful and inspiring trail.

The trail, funded by Big Lottery Fund, Belfast City Council and Department for Communities is a fantastic addition to Connswater Community Greenway’s existing portfolio of self-guided trails which include; Connswater Community Greenway Trail, George Best Trail, C.S. Lewis Trail and Van Morrison Trail. The Connswater Industrial Heritage Trail follows the route of the Connswater Community Greenway, a £40m regeneration project in east Belfast. The Greenway, when completed, will be a 9km linear park along the courses of the Knock, Loop and Connswater rivers. It will create safer, cleaner and greener public space, connect people and places and it will bring new life to the rivers which were a vital part of our industrial past.

Although much of east Belfast’s heritage has been lost, the Connswater Industrial Heritage Trail provides a glimpse of an era when Belfast was one of the mightiest industrial cities in the world, employing thousands of people in the rapidly growing linen mills, rope factories, engineering works and shipyards. The trail highlights where huge factories once stood on the river banks. Some of the sites include; Thompsons Bakery; Goblin (BVC) ; Avoniel Distillery, McDowell Ropeworks; Cantrell & Cochrane – to name but a few.

Wendy Langham, Programme Manager of the Connswater Community Greenway said:

“The Connswater Industrial Heritage is a great addition to our existing portfolio of self-guided tours, which aim to encourage visitors to visit the Connswater Community Greenway and to explore the EastSide of the City. We were delighted to work alongside the east Belfast based ’ Very local History Group’ who helped bring the wonderful stories, memories and voices of local people connected to these industries alive. The trail not only highlights the industrial heritage of east Belfast but importantly those industries located on the banks of the Connswater River and the significant role our waterways have made to our industrial heritage.”

Speaking at the event, Charles Ludlow from The Very Local History Group, commented:

“On behalf of The Very Local History Group I would like to thank Connswater Community Greenway for their support in making the Connswater Industrial Heritage Trail happen. It will jog the memory of the older members of the community and give an insight to others about the industrial life of east Belfast. Our Group is very pleased to have contributed to the trail which will make information readily available to both locals and visitors. We are delighted to have captured in a trail for both locals and visitors to enjoy”.

Download a copy of the Connswater Industrial Heritage Trail