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16 October 2014
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I am going to tell you about Pennybridge, which is near to Ballymena. I will take you back in time and tell you what it was like thirty-five years ago.


By Ellen O'Hara (P6 St Mary's Primary School, Ballymena)

I am going to tell you about Pennybridge, which is near to Ballymena. I will take you back in time and tell you what it was like thirty-five years ago.


Before all the industrial units were built, there was a bridge called Pennybridge. If you were walking across it you would have to pay a penny toll. It was also a road bridge that means that cars could drive over it. The bridge separated Ballykeel and Ballycraigy. In Ballykeel there were no houses or shops at that time. The Pennybridge used to be where Beggs the plumbers now is.

It was on the main road between Ballymena and Kells. My dad lived quite near to the Pennybridge and he used to cross it to get to school every morning. There was a river that ran underneath the bridge called the Deerfin Burn. This river is now piped under the road.

Up the hill from the Pennybridge the Lindsays used to live. One of the people who lived there was John Lindsay, who's the uncle of Kelly Orr. My Uncle Barney has a picture of the Pennybridge and hangs it on the wall in his good room.

thatched cottage

There used to be some cottages near the bridge that had thatched roofs. They were very small and had no electricity. When my dad was a little boy the cottages had tin roofs. In the cottages there was a crane beside the fire to hang pots on to cook with. Instead of paint the cottages were whitewashed. In those days paint was dear so people made whitewash out of lime. It was white washed on the inside as well as the outside. The people who lived in one of the cottages were call Soutars. There were four sisters and two brothers in their seventies and had never been married. One of the brothers Harry Soutars was the last cooper in Ballymena. A cooper is a person who makes wooden barrels. He worked at the Fairhill market.

Nowadays none of things I have told you about are still here. Now in Pennybridge Industrial estate there are shops and companies. In fact my dad has his office in the Pennybridge Industrial Estate.

What do you know about Pennybridge's history? Have you any old photographs of the cottages or what the area used to look like? Do you remember the Soutars? Have you seen a cooper at work?

Share your comments and thoughts with others by either e-mailing "Your Place & mine" at or posting your remarks directly yourself at the bottom of the page.

St Mary's P6 pupils are obviously proud of where they live. Pick a tower and click on it to read more of their contributions....

Motte and Bailey
and Bailey
Headless Horseman
Ballymena today

Click to return to St Mary's Primary School page..

Your Responses

Christopher Peake - Sep '06
J noticed the name Howe Loaning in Liz Hamill's message. Loaning must mean lane. A master at Rockport School, Craigavad lived in one of the two houses at Green Loaning which was a short lane off the longer lane running down to the school. In the early 1800s the Donegall Road in Belfast was called Blackstaff Loaning.

Liz Hamill - March '06
It was lovely to turn up this link and learn that `Sarah from Australia` has fond memories of THE PENNYBRIDGE. My grandparents Jim and Maggie McAuley lived at the `bridge` until the powers that be decided it was a usless commodity! Prior to that and just a short distance away they resided for many years at the HOWE LOANING - an unusul name for a lane that led up to McQuittys' farm! The small houses at the `bridge` had no modern convenienes - water was drawn from a well, light was supplied by a Tilly lamp and the toilet was a little shed at the back of the house. A few years before the `bridge and houses`were demolished my grandparents had electricity - but the Tilly and oil lamps still burned bright on winter nights... I often drive the short distance to the `Pennybridge Industrial Estate` I park the car and just sit... the memories come flooding back... an easy going lifestyle, time for friends and visitors, cool refreshing water from the well, the parade of cows at milk time, the Lint Dam just brfore the Lindsays' family home - the smell of the Lint when it was lifted out to dry was horrible - I know - I helped lift it out! I moved to Belfast in 1960 but returned home each weekend, how glad I am that the `bridge` lasted long enough for my children to enjoy the simple lifestyle and beauty that was THE PENNYBRIDGE. I know we all must move with the times, but I will never understand why a place of history and beauty that was unique to Ballymena was seen as a usless commodity...

Congratulations Ellen, your article in regard to the PENNYBRIDGE was both interesting and informative - keep on with your story writing...

Wilfred Neeson - Feb '06
Hi There
My name is Wilfie Neeson. I am a part time artist living in Ballymena. I have done paintings of Pennybridge/cottages and am willing to do some more on demand. It is a lovely picture to copy from.

Sarah Gillen (Australia) - Sept '05
I remember Pennybridge well..I was a Harryville school girl then about 9/10 years old I got a heafty biff on the ear for straying so far from DOUGLAS TERRACE but I'd heard of the fresh spring water there so of course I had to try it..I remember the whitewashed cottages; Lizzie Weir lived there, remember her? Little did I know she would be the lady who would take me to my first work on the day I was 14 years old! In Crevilly Vally weaving Co in Kells I often wandered out to Pennybridge on a sweet summer evening..sometimes with a sweetheart or a girlfriend just to gossip and enjoy the peace and beauty ..oh to be in old Pennybridge again

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