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THE PLIGHT OF THE "BALLYMENA ORANGE ARCHES"
FOR many years now Orange Arches which use to be very common in Ballymena Town Centre round the Twelfth of July period, but sadly now have dwindled away to none.

At one time nearly every Street in the Borough was adorned with a beautifully decorated Arch commemorating a Historic event or a Biblical Theme. The last remaining Arches were sited on two of the most loyal thoroughfares of the Town, namely Queen Street and Larne Road.

Insurance and structural problems have presented Arch Committees with an impossible task of erecting Orange Arches. This together with the sheer volume of traffic on our roads making it increasingly more difficult to put up an Arch. Also the shifting population from the town to outlaying housing estates has also played a big part in the demise of the Orange Arch in the Town Centre. Only Arches now to be found in Ballymena is in the staunchly loyal Drumtara and Ballykeel Housing Estates. Outside the Town local Orange Lodges Galgorm L.O.L. 239 and Craigywarren L.O.L. 476 deserve a lot of credit for keeping the Orange Tradition going by erecting an Arch in their areas. In fact the only Arch the Twelfth Parade passes under is the Traditional Arch at the entrance to the Demonstration Field.

Local historian John Luke has provided some great examples of Orange Arches from yesteryear some dating back to the early 1900's.

Street arch made by Geo Robinson, Robt Luke Jnr, Jim Bonar, Bertie Megaw. Taken between Craigavon Tce & White's Row. (Left) John Nevin (Right) John Hogg, man with open neck shirt Roy Speers

12th July arch, Bridge Street (Kane Bros. showroom in background)

Orange Brethern passing White's Row (Larne Road)

Larne Road after Casement Street corner