Rams Island Heritage Project Supported By
The Rams Island Heritage Project is an undertaking of the River Bann and Lough Neagh Association Company.
The Barge JK16 Sandmartin History
Built in Belfast by Harland & Wolff in 1955 for John Kelly (Coal)
The barge (JK16) an ex John Kelly coal barge was originally used to transport imported coal along the Lagan from the Belfast Coal Quays to the Gas Works in Belfast. The coal all imported by John Kellys fleet of coal boats was transhipped directly into the fleet of dumb barges waiting at the Coal Quays. They then were towed 6 at a time up the Lagan to the Blackstaff River which had been canalised to Cromac Quay for discharge into the Belfast Gasworks.
Clips taken circa1960 from around Albert Bridge
Many thanks to Joe Graham for the above video clip and W.A. McCutcheon for the pictures below.
J.K. 16 dumb barge
JK16 was subsequently sold to the sand trade on Lough Neagh and was last used by Readymix at Toome Bay. Replaced by larger barges JK 16 was donated to the Rams Island Heritage Project by Readymix in 2004.
After conversion JK 16 was renamed “JK 16 Sandmartin”.
Conversion of a Lagan Coal Barge to a Floating Interpretive Centre
Saved from the scrapman in 2004 ex John Kelly Coal Barge JK16 refloated and fitted out in Toomebridge and Antrim during 2008 and 2009 as a floating Interpretive Centre for Rams Island Lough Neagh.
Saved from the scrapman in 2004 Converted to a floating Interpretive Centre for Rams Island Lough Neagh.The journey to Rams Island and the berthing of the barge at the Island
The barge is now the cornerstone for volunteers who come to Island to work at the various environmental restoration projects that are planned/in progress (native tree planting, path restoration, habitat creation, invasive species management etc.) Up to thirty volunteers have dined aboard the barge thanks to the volunteers who staff the galley.
Local community groups who work on the Island with us participate in volunteering weekends on the Island and the barge plays a key role in these activities as a facility for volunteers who spend a weekend working on the Island. The barge also acts as a first aid post and wardens office. The barge is also used by the wardens for overnight stays. The barge is not a public toilet with fixed opening times but visiting boaters are welcome to use the toilets aboard the barge when RBLNAC volunteers are on the Island. The barge was open for over 100 days last year mainly at weekends. Also the kettle is usually on the boil.
The Video below was made by Rev. Chris Bennet Chaplain to the Titanic Quarter in Belfast. Rev.Chris is contemplating building a floating Church in the Belfast Docks. We wish him every success as the floating Interpretive Centre has certainly worked for us.
...in which I travel to Lough Neagh to explore a boat, created virtually from scratch by some skilled volunteers, and wonder if something like this might be a way forward for The Dock...
This site was last updated 26-May-2015