The weir, built in 1994, has rejuvenated what used to be a smelly and dirty part of Belfast. It transformed an area of the city so that businesses, visitors and animals can all enjoy the clean river.
The water where the River Lagan meets the saltwater of Belfast Lough used to be horribly smelly. An outdated sewage system and rapidly changing tides left mudflats on the banks of the river at low tide, and there was no place for wildlife. As Belfast came out of the Troubles and looked ahead to a new future, the council decided that something needed to be done to the River.
Funded by the Laganside Corporation and European Commission, the weir was designed by Ferguson and McIlveen and built by Charles Brand Ltd. It took three years to build and was completed in 1994. It cost £14 million and is one of the largest civil engineering projects to be undertaken in Northern Ireland. The gates measure 18 by 5 metres and were manufactured by Harland and Wolff.
However, it’s much more than a simple weir. The project also involved the building of the “Lagan Lookout”, a visitor centre with exhibitions about the history of the river and the weir. It has definitely improved the quality of the river water and you can now find trout, salmon and eels migrating up the river. A footbridge was added in 2015 to cross the river and you see the Herdman Channel and the weir cascade from it as you cross.