Let the story of Newry Street be told once more;
How the confluence of river and road set the scene
How there’s an independent business behind every door
How when we say ‘revitalise’ we know what we mean.
A bridge across the river’s at the centre of the thinking;
A bridge you can saunter over in the evening light;
Real bridge, bridge as metaphor, bridge of ideas linking
Peoples’ concerns as the daytime softens to night.
Meet me on the boardwalk, see you at the park;
Here come the visitors, let’s show them where to sit
Inside a late-night café, bright lights in the dark
Or outside a bustling restaurant, the River Bann lit
By the light of hope and progress. This is the place to meet
Where the present kissed the future down on Newry Street.
30 Newry Street businesses were destroyed by a bomb in 1998. Security checkpoints were introduced, along with concrete planters for shop front protection. The street was closed every night and by the year 2000, vacancy rates were at 26 per cent. But this innovative council pursued a series of grants to regenerate the street. A central reservation with trees was introduced and hard landscape design removed all trace of the previous environment. The council has recently harnessed the optimism of the community with an ambitious programme of initiatives. Street wardens were introduced for day and night-time assistance. Many cultural and sporting events are held on the street, which work well with the physical improvements. Local family businesses are building on tradition to create a broad mix of shopping. Newry Street shows how deep cooperation between a council and local businesses can create vitality and a highly successful reinvention of a great street.