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Coordinates: 54°26′50″N 6°23′18″W / 54.447222°N 6.388333°W / 54.447222; -6.388333

Irish: Creag Abhann
Craigavon is located in Northern Ireland

 Craigavon shown within Northern Ireland
Population 81,000 (Urban Area)
Irish grid reference J042562
    - Belfast  27 miles (43 km) 
District Craigavon
County County Armagh
Country Northern Ireland
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district BT64
Dialling code 028, +44 28
Police Northern Ireland
Fire Northern Ireland
Ambulance Northern Ireland
EU Parliament Northern Ireland
NI Assembly Upper Bann
List of places: UK • Northern Ireland • Armagh

Craigavon (Irish: Creag Abhann) is an urban area in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. It was a planned settlement that was begun in 1965 and named after Northern Ireland's first Prime Minister — James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon. It was intended to be a linear city incorporating Lurgan and Portadown, but this plan largely failed and less than half of the proposed work was finished. Among locals today, "Craigavon" refers to the residential area between the two towns, which is bounded to the northwest by a railway line.

Craigavon Urban Area includes Craigavon Centre, Brownlow, Lurgan, Portadown, Waringstown and Bleary; making it the third largest urban area in Northern Ireland.




Original plans

Craigavon was planned as a 'New City' for Northern Ireland that would mirror cities such as Milton Keynes in Great Britain. It was conceived as a linear city that would link the towns of Lurgan and Portadown to create a single urban area and identity. The argument for a new town was based on projections indicating population increases over the following decades that would require large scale house building. Similar projects had been successfully completed in Great Britain so it was in some ways a symbol of Northern Ireland as both modern and a part of British mainstream. Several reasons have been suggested for the suitability of the site including the existing population centres, industrial base, proximity to Belfast and the belief that Craigavon would help spread development away from Belfast. It was hoped that residents of Belfast would be attracted by the suburban nature of Craigavon’s design and that business would see it as an interesting alternative. Cash incentives were offered to some families moving to Craigavon. The M1 motorway (Northern Ireland) was constructed to link the new city with Belfast and there were plans to replace the Lurgan and Portadown Railway Stations with a single high speed terminal in central Craigavon. The Craigavon Area Hospital was built to replace small hospitals in the local towns.

Critics have suggested that Derry would have been the better location and that North Armagh was chosen in order to maintain a Protestant majority in areas east of the River Bann.

The design of Craigavon was imbued with the spirit of the age. The planners separated motor vehicles from pedestrians and cyclists wherever possible, creating a dedicated network of paths allowing residents to travel across Craigavon without encountering traffic. The road network for motor vehicles used roundabouts instead of traffic lights at junctions, giving the planners the ability to easily increase the number of lanes if it became necessary. Electricity and other cables were placed underground and street lighting was standard throughout. The planners clustered the housing developments around small ‘village centres’ with associated retail space, leisure facilities, post offices, primary schools, pharmacies, community centres and other civic amenities. There was a total separation of industrial land-use from all other uses. All estates were built with security concerns in mind, with one vehicle entry/exit point.

Craigavon was designed to be a very child-friendly environment with small playgrounds dotted throughout the residential areas. There was an emphasis on providing green space in the housing estates and safe paths to cycle on. The new town was also provided with many civic amenities including a leisure centre, libraries, shopping centre, civic centre, a large park with artificial lakes, playing fields, a petting zoo, public gardens and an artificial ski slope.


Problems began to come to light when it emerged that some large-scale housing areas had been built with materials and techniques that had not been fully tested, with the result that insulation, sound-proofing and durability were not adequate. The area's main employer, Goodyear, had a large fan-belt factory in the Silverwood industrial estate, and at the time it was Europe's largest factory. The plant failed to make money on a consistent basis, and had to close. It also emerged that the population projections for Northern Ireland upon which the project was based were wildly inaccurate, with the result that the planned development was redundant.[citation needed] This was compounded by the outbreak of the 'Troubles' in the late 1960s, with the result that investment into Northern Ireland dried up and emigration increased.

Consequently around 50% of what was planned was never built, and of what was built, some of that had to be demolished after becoming empty and derelict. It was not uncommon to drive through Craigavon in the early 1980s and see entire housing estates and acres of housing abandoned. The area designated as Craigavon 'city centre', roughly mid-point between Lurgan and Portadown, for much of this time contained the municipal authority, the court buildings, a shopping mall Surrounded by the Parkmore estate and greenfield land it became a source of much derision, although in recent years housing developments have been built up around the shopping centre whilst the area to the East lies the "balancing lakes". A beautiful area of public parkland.

Critics of single use zoning would find much to criticise in Craigavon where this type of urban planning has been used extensively. Only in the older towns is traditional town planning more prevalent.

The identity of a new city never really caught on. The name 'Craigavon' is today used by locals to refer to the rump of the housing between Lurgan and Portadown, but the names of the old towns stubbornly live on and so do their identities. Many citizens of Lurgan and a few citizens of Portadown resent being identified with the new city of Craigavon.[citation needed] Lurgan has been adversely effected commercially by the Craigavon development although Portadown has prospered greatly as a result of its association with Craigavon.[citation needed]

However after many years of development, and increasing house prices closer to Belfast, Craigavon is now taking off. Many of the older housing estates have been demolished, improving the general tone of the area. The introduction of new estates have brought many new people into the area, and the expansion of the Craigavon Shopping Centre (now renamed the Rushmere Shopping Centre) has made it a major shopping destination.

The Troubles

The Craigavon urban area, especially Lurgan and Portadown, was one of the most violent places in The Troubles, even though there was very little violence in central Craigavon. The plan to build a city there was abandoned. For more information, see The Troubles in Craigavon, which includes a list of incidents in Craigavon during the Troubles resulting in two or more fatalities.


The land Craigavon was built upon is split into a number of townlands (bailte fearainn), whose names are derived from the Irish language. Many of Craigavon's roads and housing estates are named after them. The townlands are:

  • Ballyhannon
  • Balteagh
  • Bocombra
  • Clanrolla
  • Corcreeny
  • Crossmacahilly
  • Drumgask
  • Drumgor
  • Drumnagoon
  • Kernan
  • Knockmenagh
  • Legaghory
  • Lisnamintry
  • Lisnisky
  • Lylo
  • Monbrief
  • Moyraverty or Moyraferty (Maigh Raifeartaigh)
  • Silverwood (Coill an Airgid)
  • Taghnevan (Teach Naomháin)
  • Tamnafiglassan
  • Tannaghmore
  • Tullygally (Tulaigh Galla)


Craigavon Urban Area (including Bleary) is classified as a Large Town by the NI Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) (ie with population between 18,000 and 75,000 people). On Census day (29 April 2001) there were 81,000 people[citation needed] living in the Craigavon Urban Area. Of these:

  • 24.5% were aged under 16 years and 17.4% were aged 60 and over.
  • 48.8% of the population were male and 51.2% were female.
  • 44.7% were from a Catholic background and 52.9% were from a Protestant background.
  • 4.0% of people aged 16–74 were unemployed.

As the Craigavon Urban area incorporates the towns of Lurgan and Portadown, it is difficult to determine the exact population and demographics of the area that is generally regarded as Craigavon (principally determined by the BT64 and BT65 postal areas)[1]. This area roughly corresponds with the Drumgor and Drumgask electoral wards which in the 2001 Census had 6,132 residents between them. That said, there has been considerable development in the years since, some of which lies in the Kernan ward.[2]

Craigavon has an 800-strong Chinese community, and a high level of racially motivated incidents. [3]

For more details see: NI Neighbourhood Information Service


Craigavon was provided with a number of schools, with capacity for a number of children which never materialised.

  • Brownlow Integrated College was one of the first integrated high schools in Northern Ireland
  • Drumgor Primary School, controlled primary school
  • Lismore Comprehensive School largest school in Northern Ireland, maintained by the Roman Catholic Church
  • Moyallon Primary School
  • St. Anthony's Primary School, maintained by the Roman Catholic Church
  • St. Brendan's Primary School, maintained by the Roman Catholic Church
  • St. Patrick's Primary School
  • Tullygally Primary School, controlled primary school


  • Craigavon United F.C. - won the Milk Cup in 1986.
  • Craigavon City F.C. - Founded in 2007. In their first season they finished 4th in the Mid Ulster fourth division and won the John Magee Memorial Cup after a 2-1 victory over Armagh Rovers.
  • Craigavon Cowboys American Football - The only American Football Team in Armagh. 2009 Winners of the IAFL DV8s league. Currently preparing for their return to the IAFL proper in 2010


  1. ^ Phillip's County Down and County Armagh Street Atlas, Pages 52 & 53
  2. ^ The large Carnreagh development lies within the Kernan Ward. Google Maps NINIS Map of Kernan Ward
  3. ^ Irish Times 29 May 2008

External links

See also


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