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Referenced in 1744 in Walter Harris’ book The Antient and Present State of the County of Down as Warring’s Point, Warrenpoint began to grow as a town after 1767. The Newry merchants petitioned the Irish Parliament for a grant to build a dock at ‘the point of land commonly called Warren-point’ and submitted a plan which was estimated to cost almost £3,000 and take two years to build. 

Roger Hall, Robert Ross, Robert Scott and Edward Corry were appointed commissioners and a grant of £1,500 was given. In 1777 the Newry Merchants petitioned for another grant of £1,447 which was granted. The harbour subsequently became the property of the Hall family of Narrow Water. 

Extract from a map of Warrenpoint Dock relating to a new pier to be built for the Dundalk, Newry and Greenore Railway in the 1860s. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Extract from a map of Warrenpoint Dock relating to a new pier to be built for the Dundalk, Newry and Greenore Railway in the 1860s. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

Warrenpoint had grown quite rapidly by 1820 with most businesses being publicans, lodging houses and grocers. The maritime element of the town provided employment in carpentry, ship building and sailing. Other employment was available in the mills in the area which included Narrow Water corn mill which was built in 1802. It was owned by Roger Hall and was powered by a 16ft water wheel with the mill race being supplied by lakes in Burren and Aughnamoira

By the 1830s, the town had expanded from containing one house in 1740 to having a total of 462 houses. Around this time piers were also extended into the channel to enable vessels to come in at half-tide. By the 1840s the port had become the point of departure for emigration ships to America such as the Lady Caroline which sailed to New Brunswick in Canada during the Great Famine. 

Warrenpoint and Carlingford Lough from the Bridle Loanan c.1900. This image shows the Windmill which was located just off the Square and had been built by Robert Turner in 1802. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Warrenpoint and Carlingford Lough from the Bridle Loanan c.1900. This image shows the Windmill which was located just off the Square and had been built by Robert Turner in 1802. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

In 1846, an act of parliament was passed for the construction of a railway between Newry and Rostrevor. Opening on May 28th 1849, the six mile line ran between Kilmorey Street in Newry to Newry Street in Warrenpoint. As the plans to extend the railway to Rostrevor failed to become a reality, a horse-drawn tram was created to link the Great Northern railhead at Warrenpoint with Rostrevor. The tram ran from 1877 until 1915. 

Postcard showing visitors enjoying the Promenade in the 1920s. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Postcard showing visitors enjoying the Promenade in the 1920s. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

The late 19th century saw Warrenpoint continue to develop as a tourist town with seven hotels built to facilitate the large number of tourists visiting the town. However, it declined as holiday resort in the later 20th century with the closure of the Newry-Warrenpoint railway in 1965 and the increasing popularity of foreign holidays. Its role as a port became more profound in 1968 when the government announced that Warrenpoint would be the official port for the newly established city of Craigavon. The port also experienced an increase in work when the Newry Ship Canal closed in 1974 and all international shipping traded was transferred from Newry to Warrenpoint. The port expanded to approximately 28 acres and is one of the main ports in Northern Ireland today.

Newry and Mourne Museum is temporarily closed.

By Joanne Glymond

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