It was a bittersweet moment for trucker and Alliance councillor Philip McKinney when the old Burntollet Bridge was demolished last week.
The beautiful and historic archway that spans the Burntollet near Ervey is being sacrificed for the new A6.
The old structure famously stood sentinel as civil rights marchers were attacked on January 4, 1969 in the Burntollet ambush, an epoch-making moment in our recent history.
That attack took place as marchers tried to cross the bridge laid to replace the old arch in 1955 and that lies perpendicular to it. The newer bridge forms part of the main Derry to Belfast road but will also eventually make way for the new dual carriageway.
Colr. McKinney said: “It’s brilliant to see the progress on the A6. The narrow winding part of the Derry-Belfast road - between Toome and the start of the M22 at Randalstown - is now widened and opened. A great improvement for lorry drivers like myself. And we’re impatient for progress on the Derry-Dungiven stretch. But that’s a much longer stretch. Work is well under way. But it will take more than a year to complete. Drivers and passengers really look forward to the Dungiven Bypass - and the people of Dungiven certainly do as well!”
Colr. McKinney, however, felt a twinge of sadness at one of the sacrifices made in the name of progress.
“Progress brings other changes. The old Burntollett bridge was demolished last week. It was a lovely old bridge. That stonework carried a lot of people and wagons for over a century. And it was strong to the end. You could see how long it took the modern machinery to knock it down.”