The Quay

Trade in Strangford Lough grew in the 1600s and was the reason for the existence of Strangford which became the main port. The Old Quay and slipway were built in the first half of the 17th century by Valentine Payne, agent to the Earl of Kildare. In 1629 he wrote to his employer stating,

‘I have builded a chapple from the ground for your Lordship. I have likewise builded you a key where there was none before, that the biggest shippe the King hath may lay beside her. Besides I have builded a custom house, and have bestowed in other buildings alone, above £300, and have resolved to dye your servant.’

The quay was a substantial stone pier built with flat stones set vertically, with a minimum of mortar. The custom house which Payne mentions was also made of stone. At the same time a slipway for the ferrymen was constructed.

Until 1876 there were two quays in Strangford which were used for cargo, fishing and ferry boats. They were this Old Quay and the Newry Quay which was at the southern end of the harbour and was mostly used for unloading timber. In 1876 the New Quay, with a set of passenger steps, was built.

The Quay

At low tide the Old Quay dried out and ships were left stranded until the next high tide when they floated alongside the Quay.

Rapid Expansion of Trade

  • 1707 – 42 ships landed 531 tons of cargo
  • 1795 – 143 ships landed 8,807 tons of cargo
  • 1852 – trade through the port was 34,107 tons!

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