'Dutch Billys'

Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:05 am

No, it's there. At the corner of Brown St & Brickfield Lane. Can yis not see it? It hasn't been demolished.

Re 'Dutch Billys'. gunter I can tell you suffer from last-word-itus so I'm not saying anything else :-)
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby ctesiphon » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:18 am

It's the Billy that's gone- other side of the road from the extant mystery house.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:33 am

Ok. Well it'd be something to find that still there !
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Fri Aug 22, 2008 11:34 am

Devin wrote: gunter I can tell you suffer from last-word-itus so I'm not saying anything else :-)


or else what?
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby GrahamH » Sat Aug 23, 2008 12:13 am

Just off Brown Street is Weaver Square. Now a desolate space to the south side of Cork Street, its form was obliterated by slum clearance and 1960s social housing.


1880s

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Today

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The Billies were probably of c. 1700 date, while the Victorians were pretty much brand new.

Here's the terrace just a few years later. Two of the already-delapidated Billys were by then truncated. It looks like one collapsed and both were subsequently 'made good'.

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Interestingly for the 19th century Liberties, it appears even these buildings were considered out of bounds for the most wretched of potential tenants.

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Just another typical day. I wonder where these ladies were off to. What a beautiful lamp.

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I thought I'd (crudely) layer the modern-day scene from precisely the same position of the 1880s.

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It is an extraordinary sensation to stand right on the site of the houses, with the foundations probably still concealed beneath your feet. The crudeness of the urban form at this location - essentially a cleared site unresolved from the 1960s (or should that be resolved 1960s style) - makes the former presence of these houses all the more vivid. Some forms can even still be made out on the gable of the adjoining Victorian.

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The site of the houses is just poured concrete.

The Victorians still standing are curiously grand and middle class given the dereliction formerly directly adjacent. These were by no means artisan housing.

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The central house owners are particularly deserving of credit for their beautiful maintenance.

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The flat complex that replaced the Billies is now vacant and awaits demolition. Plans are currently being drafted - surely any half-decent contextual development would acknowledge through design reference both the former significance and the dominant architectural idiom of this place and that of the adjacent Chamber Street which it principally fronts.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby GrahamH » Sat Aug 23, 2008 12:25 am

Indeed here is that block.

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And an aerial view with the Billy sites partly outlined.

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Also, of some concern are works being carried out to the unprotected probable former gabled house beside the pub around the corner on the Chamber Street.

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The former timber beam has been taken out, the void plugged with breeze bloacks, and the beam chopped into pieces for the skip.

A lot of hammering and banging was coming from the interior also.

Image
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Sat Aug 23, 2008 1:45 am

That's disturbing about the Chamber St. house Graham. No Bob the Builder should be allowed butcher the last original house on a three hundred year old street. This is a brick house, you can't just bang in concrete lintels and concrete bricks.

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The beam was decayed, in part, but there are conservation experts to deal with this kind of thing.

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A postcard view down Chamber Street from Weavers Square, with Newmarket in the distance. I hadn't realized that the Weavers Square block of flats was up for demolition. As you say, the opportunity to replace it with a sensitive scheme that respects the original urban intentions should not be missed this time.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby GrahamH » Sat Aug 23, 2008 1:55 am

Absolutely. A great opportunity coupled with the other more attractive 60s blocks across the road.

Any chance you could zoom in on the Chamber Street house there gunter. The dominance of three-bayers all the way down certainly explains the replacement pair of big plate Victorian windows at first floor level today.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Sat Aug 23, 2008 11:48 am

GrahamH wrote:Any chance you could zoom in on the Chamber Street house there gunter.


I'm not a machine, you know.

No, I have zoomed in, but it's just a brown blur. It's the house with the white gable party wall in the distance at the far end of the derelict site.

The 1935/6 O.S. map shows the street pretty much intact with only the corner house on Ormond Street (of the terrace of 14 houses in the postcard) not shaded, indicating that it had been demolished.

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I've outlined your house in red and shaded the Corporation terrace, that in-filled the derelict site, in orange.

Since I had the map out, I put a blue line around that probable 'twin Billy' on Cork Street, the one with the 'Whelan' part of 'Paddy Whelan' sign. Every time I go down Cork Street, I half expect to see this one gone.

Image Image
The 'Paddy' house was probably also a gabled house ,but looks to be totally derelict. It must have had very low floor to ceiling heights and it may be the remains of a very early house, possibly of the semi-vernacular, triangular gabled, Marrowbone Lane type, of which there are few, if any, remnants left.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby newgrange » Sat Aug 23, 2008 8:46 pm

Here's a couple of other old photos - taken about 1905. The Weaver Sq one is from a postcard which stated the houses were for demolition.
Image
Weaver Square

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Poole Street
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:03 am

So sad. The sequence of streets and spaces of Brown Street / Weaver Square / Chamber Street / Newmarket / Ward’s Hill & related is enough to get any planner’s juices going. Talk about undervalued. Though DCC did put out a Use Strategy Discussion Paper for Newmarket a couple of years ago, suggesting, among other things, that it was a suitable space for events.

And would be great to see Weaver Square restored to something of the jump-off-the-map clarity and definition it had in Rocque (below), with quality buildings. Already a bad, cheap redbrick & PVC building was built on the west side 5 or 10 years ago, which can be partly seen in some of GrahamH’s photos above.



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The fascia and cornice of the Chamber Street house (below) were taken off about 4 years ago. Presumably they noticed some movement in the front fa̤ade and decided to investigate the state of the bressumer beam Рand only got around to doing something (butchery) about it now.

Hard to know what this house originally looked like (if gabled or not) as it seems to have a different appearance to the other gabled houses on the street in the old photos. But it’s clearly very old because you can see it and the single-bay one next door on Rocque, 1756 (above), also corresponding fairly much to the 1935 OS posted above. I was passing by the single-bay house one day and you could see an angled chimney breast in the front room.

Image
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:30 am

Devin wrote:So sad. The sequence of streets and spaces of Brown Street / Weaver Square / Chamber Street / Newmarket / Ward’s Hill & related is enough to get any planner’s juices going. Talk about undervalued.


It's depressing to think that had those streets survived another 70 odd years, the Liberties could be basking in UNESCO World Heritage Site status today!

The fact that this area has not been intensively redeveloped, and the fact that it still preserves fragments of its original fabric that could be restored as representative examples of it's unique building legacy, presents us with a huge opportunity to regenerate the area in ways that respect and do justice to the wonderful streetscapes that we've lost.

If we put our minds to it and stopped throwing in generic apartment blocks with outsized corner tower features on every site that once had sublime examples of varied and ordered urbanism, we could yet turn the Liberties into something special again.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby ctesiphon » Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:29 am

Fascinating to see the old street patterns in such detail, and the almost domestic-Hanseatic feel of Weaver's Square in particular.

A few minor things that caught my eye in the images above:

I know the gables are the thrust of this thread, but the house that really interests me on the east side of the square is the odd 3 1/2 bay one with the split pitch roof to the north of the Billies. Is it just (just!) a vernacular oddball? Is it even older? I sense a bit of history there... And it seems to have persisted until the 1930s map above too.

Also, there's an odd little feature or discrepancy on Rocque's map- the east side of the square is the only street front on the whole map that is not a hard black line. A simple mistake, presumably?

Finally, if they're the same houses on Rocque and the OS 1930s map, how come the carriage arches have moved? Lazy mapping on Mr Rocque's part?
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Fri Aug 29, 2008 7:18 pm

By the way, despite its obvious urban design and historic significance as 'weaver central', and the existence of some decent late 19th century buildings on it, Weaver Square doesn't have one scrap of conservation provision at present; it's not a Conservation Area or a Residential Conservation Area, let alone an ACA, and it doesn't have any Protected Structures, apart from a convent building on the adjoining Ormond Street. It presently has a mixture of three different zonings: residential, mixed services facilities and institutional & community use. Getting Conservation Area status for it in the next development plan would be a start.




Image

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Some more weavers' houses above on Ardee Street, or 'Crooked Staff' as it was in the 18th century, with the same view today. We really did a terrific job of eliminating every last one of these houses out of a whole network of streets of them in the area. There was probably some sniveling pen-pusher in the 1940s or '50s who was personally seeing to it that every one of them was gotten down. How else can it be explained? They were over 200 years old at this point, so their antique value was not to be sniffed at, whereas a lot of Georgian was only 100-150 years old (maybe a bit like the difference between Georgian & Victorian now).

You can see the Ardee House pub at the corner of Chamber Street in both pictures, subject of a current planning appeal. I do hope An Bord P don't permit its demolition because, as well as being a decent corner pub, it represents the weavers' houses. It was there when they were there; it is a 'witness building'.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Rory W » Mon Sep 01, 2008 3:14 pm

Devin wrote:There was probably some sniveling pen-pusher in the 1940s or '50s who was personally seeing to it that every one of them was gotten down. How else can it be explained? They were over 200 years old at this point, so their antique value was not to be sniffed at, whereas a lot of Georgian was only 100-150 years old (maybe a bit like the difference between Georgian & Victorian now).


I think the fact that they had degenerated into some of the most appaling slums in Europe their demolition was welcomed by the masses (although the break up of communities wasn't).
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Sep 02, 2008 4:56 pm

Rory W wrote:I think the fact that they had degenerated into some of the most appaling slums in Europe their demolition was welcomed by the masses (although the break up of communities wasn't).


Exactly - old photography doesn't always capture the squalor of these places (I have been in some seriously poor areas of Winnipeg, and when photographed, they don't look as bad as they obviously are.). It could quite easily have been the aim of some progressive liberal type to get the areas cleared as opposed to "some sniveling pen-pusher".
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Tue Sep 02, 2008 10:13 pm

Paul Clerkin wrote:Exactly - old photography doesn't always capture the squalor of these places . . .
It could quite easily have been the aim of some progressive liberal type to get the areas cleared as opposed to "some sniveling pen-pusher".


There was definitely some slum clearance as epidemic preventative measure and there was some slum clearance as an expression of civic responsibility, but there must also have been a hugh amount of casual destruction just for the want of any civic understanding of the urban heritage involved.

The fact that these streets were repeatedly photographed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, suggests that there must have been an appreciation of their antiquity value at least, even if that appreciation may have mixed architectural curiosity with the quaintness of the squalor.

I think Devin's point is that, if these streets were significant enough to be photographed and even postcarded, they should have been significant enough to be protected from demolition, especially when, in most cases, nothing of any significance replaced them. How exactly did other cities hang onto their tumbledown gabled buildings? The civic authorities across Europe from Amsterdam to Danzig must have exercised some form of protective regime over their urban fabric, why were we so different?

Whatever excuses we offer, it's hard to deny that, In Dublin in the 20th century, destruction of old houses, became a kind of orgy. In previous generations, the alteration, or destruction of urban fabric, was almost always for the purpose of expounding a newer vision, eg the demolition of a swath of Abbey street was carried out for the purposes of extending Sackville Street to the Quays, or the destruction of the pair of grand new Georgian houses at the top of Sackville Mall was carried out to facilitate the construction of the Rotunda.

That process of re-planning and renewal continued throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, but then a couple of decades into the 20th century, the elements of the process seemed to get forgotten. The connection between 'destruction' and 'replacement vision' was lost. Destruction seemed to become an end in itself and, freed from any connection to a replacement vision, it became viral as it accelerated.

So little more than a hundred years after the production of that 1817 WSC map, (the one that specifically targeted areas of streetscape to be 'improved'), we went from an aspiration to fix and complete the city, to a state where we had almost no appreciation of the city as an intricate artifact at all.

Just with a view to keeping our terminology straight, strictly speaking these triangular gabled houses, whether of the vernacular Marrowbone Lane type, or the red brick Chamber Street type, are not 'Dutch Billys'. In fact these houses, which were concentrated in areas of the Liberties, would have been the only real pre-Georgian stylistic opposition to the Dutch Billy, whose prerequisite characteristic would have been the curvilinear, or stepped gable.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Rory W » Wed Sep 03, 2008 9:19 am

Not wishing to go on about this but one of the main things that the first free state government was applauded for (and subsequent FF govts) was the clearance of these slums. Yes they were historic, but they were also rat infested pits of squalor, riddled with TB and vermin with often 20 families sharing the one house and wc. Poorly maintained, they were demolished before they fell down. Pre WWI Dublin was notorious in Europe as having slums second only to Calcutta - how far we fell from being second city in the empire.

To get a house of your own in one of the grand schemes like Marino, Crumlin or Cabra would have been an amazing change for the people who lived there and though they missed the sense of community that living that close together afforded, the change in health and life expectation was well worth the loss of some buildings. At the end of the day people's lives are far more important, the buildings could not have been repaired by the state (who were broke anyway) so clearance was necessary. Amsterdam was once the capital of the Dutch empire, Dublin wasn't even the capital of an independent Ireland until 1949. These houses were slums and not the houses of the merchantile class. To compare likle with like is wrong.

There are many great books about the decline of Dublin post the Act of Union and Kevin C. Kearns oral history books on Dublin Tenement life are a real eye opener
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Wed Sep 03, 2008 10:22 am

I accept that the slums were bad, but that stock phrase that Dublin's slums 'were the worst in Europe', or 'second only to Calcutta' gets trotted out almost as often as the one that ascerted that O'Connell Street was once one of the 'Finest streets in Europe'. There is actually no basis for these statements. It's part of our insular mind-set that anything that we have that's moderately good, we're convinced is 'outstanding' and anything that's poor is 'horrendous'.

I remember having to research a meat packing plant for a Bolton Street project and each meat factory owner I phoned, without prompting, described his operation as 'the most modern in Europe'! Maybe they were, but I suspect that an average 20 year old facility in Holland or Germany would have given them a run for their money.

I'm not convinced that we had any unique housing conditions in Dublin, there were grim slums, and ghettos, in almost every city in Europe.

The weavers houses of the Liberties were never high status houses, but they were merchantile houses in the European tradition and they had been recognised as unique and duly recorded in photographs and yet we still we allowed these houses, and numerous Dutch Billys, to vanish almost without a murmur of protest. We even knocked down sound houses of known historical importance, such as the row of early 18th century houses on Cornmarket complete with historical plaque recording the birth place of 1798 leader Napper Tandy.

I'm not saying that Dublin was unique in casting off a chunk of it's heritage, other cities and towns in Britain and elsewhere did this too, but the smart cities didn't and planning applications like the current one for the demolition of Frawleys, shows us that this destructive mind-set is still out there. I get the impression sometimes that, in some circles, this is actually the default position and, IMO, we need to recognise this and tackle it head on.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby GrahamH » Wed Sep 03, 2008 11:37 am

Summed up very well.

What is central to this debate was the potential for these buildings, and indeed typical Georgian structures across the city, to be made habitable rather than demolished. There is clear evidence from the 1930s that the initial flat schemes the Corporation were building were not only of a derisory standard, but were more expensive to build that the cost of refurbishing existing buildings. This became increasingly apparent in the early years of slum clearance yet the demolition squads ploughed on clearing for the creation of anonymous housing schemes in place of socially layered and immensely flexible accommodation in converted townhouses.

It also must be remembered that there were two fundamental types of 'tenement' (the term is used loosely): ranks of squalid cottages which were landlord purpose-built rubbish to cater for the masses who had no choice but to take what was on offer, and secondly converted townhouses in once-affluent areas. Naturally the later developments of the Guinness Trust/Iveagh Trust, Dublin Artisans Dwellings Company and others form a third but very different category. The loss of the former type is generally not to be mourned, however the eradication of so many streetscapes of townhouses from vernacular to Dutch Billy to Georgian, all of which exhibited an architectural character and distinctive urban form worth retaining, was as regrettable as it was insanely wasteful.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that wiping out of enormous masses of brick and masonry, often built in heavy barn-like formations in the case of Georgian terraces, and in the case of Dutch Billies with substantial chimney substructures, for the sake of a cleared site on which to build upon all over again was in many cases economics and social engineering from the School of Raving Lunacy. With many of these buildings there was clearly substantial scope for rehabilitation and adaptation, but simply the will, the imagination and probably a broad intellect simply wasn't there to make this happen. There are good quotes of some officials from the time advocating this policy that are probably worth digging out.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby constat » Wed Sep 03, 2008 12:47 pm

Gunter,

The Weaver square picture reminds me slightly of another street that used to be at the foot of Cromwell’s Quarters (40 steps) just off Bow Lane W,.. think it was called Kennedy’s Villas ?
Last time I passed by there, the street appeared to have vanished, the « Corpo-Waffe » again?
I can’t tell if there were any Billies on the street,.. curious to see a picture of it before it’s destruction though if any exists.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Rory W » Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:36 pm

gunter wrote:The weavers houses of the Liberties were never high status houses, but they were merchantile houses in the European tradition and they had been recognised as unique and duly recorded in photographs and yet we still we allowed these houses, and numerous Dutch Billys, to vanish almost without a murmur of protest.


They were indeed merchantile houses until the weaving industry collapsed in the 19th century, following this the houses degenerated to slums and at the time were condemned as the 'worst slums in europe' by the types of people like the Guinnesses who built the Iveagh schemes.

We didn't allow these houses to fall into disrepair and slum status it was ruthless landlords. We didn't fight for their retention as they were squalid. At the time of the slum clearances in Ireland the school of thought as per many other european cities was to get people out of the squalid areas and into new worker housing (see some of the Amsterdam school of Apartments on the continent, and some famous examples in Berlin, Vienna and indeed most european cities) London too got rid of places of character where Jack the ripper did his work but they needed to go as people lived in appaling conditions.

The fine buildings that survived in most European cities, London included were, like merrion square, the hoses of the better off. Almost all the slums deteriorated and were cleared. It was much later in the 20th century (70s onwards) that the thought of restoration came on board in theses Isles, something that we in Ireland have only caught on to recently.

Yes it would have been wonderful to have an intact group of fantasticly restored weavers houses in Dublin, but given the economic, political and academic thought conditions at the time of the free state's foundation this was never going to happen. Grieve for the loss of the streetscape by all means but don't beat yourself up over it.

GrahamH - I wouldn't class the early corporation schemes as derisory or substandard. The effect of poor maintenace on some and later schemes built around road engineers plans and flinging people out to the new towns without infrastructure were far more detrimental.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Wed Sep 03, 2008 7:37 pm

Rory W wrote:The fine buildings that survived in most European cities, London included were, like merrion square, the hoses of the better off. Almost all the slums deteriorated and were cleared.


OK you're probably right there, but I'm still goin' to grumble any chance I get.

constat wrote:The Weaver square picture reminds me slightly of another street that used to be at the foot of Cromwell’s Quarters (40 steps) just off Bow Lane W,.. think it was called Kennedy’s Villas ?


Kennedy's Villas on Bow Lane was a strange mass concrete development that I believe was constructed as early as about 1910. It did have the look of being the surviving lower storeys of much older houses now that you mention it. I'll have to go searching for photographs.

I think Bow Lane was probably a mixture of gabled houses and low vernacular cottages and two storey houses, the likes of which we can see in the distance in this photograph of Bow Bridge from the Kennedy's Villas site.

The pub on the corner became May Murrays and survived with a new front elevation up to about ten years ago. The next house to the pub was, I believe, a twin Billy and we can see a nice pair of steeply pitched hipped roofs peeping up over the parapet. Notice on the 1872 map how a simple urban space had been created by pulling back the northern building line from the edge of the bridge. Irwin Street was created about 1710 as a second approach to the Royal Hospital. Dutch Billys a plenty here I think.

Image

Image

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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Wed Sep 03, 2008 8:09 pm

Hey, I missed this thread! Where was it. It’s been taken off the Ireland/Dublin section?
Rory W wrote:I think the fact that they had degenerated into some of the most appaling slums in Europe their demolition was welcomed by the masses (although the break up of communities wasn't).
Oh yeah trot out the old ‘appalling slums’ line. Look I know all about the slums. My grandfather’s street, Hardwicke Street, was demolished for slum clearance. There were obviously some raging philistines around if this street and the crescent in front of St. George’s Church was demolished ……. not even bricked up if it had to be evacuated.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Rory W » Thu Sep 04, 2008 10:31 am

Devin wrote:Hey, I missed this thread! Where was it. It’s been taken off the Ireland/Dublin section?Oh yeah trot out the old ‘appalling slums’ line. Look I know all about the slums. My grandfather’s street, Hardwicke Street, was demolished for slum clearance. There were obviously some raging philistines around if this street and the crescent in front of St. George’s Church was demolished ……. not even bricked up if it had to be evacuated.


You're missing the point that between the building of the Billies in the liberties (merchantile houses at first and very pretty) and the demolision of the buildings they had deteriorated through lack of upkeep and ruthless landlords.

And anyone from Dublin can all trot out the my grandfather's street in the rare auld times excuse - conditions in slums in Dublin were appaling. Yeah maybe it was the bleeding heart liberals that read it into the parliamentary records in Westminster and later to the Dail, perhaps it was like living in a branch of Smyths Toystore? How should I know I'm not old enough to remember and merely relying on historical records and books by historians - and what do they know? Look I'm not excusing the actions of the Corpo in all areas but the clearances were considered a good idea at the time - I think they and the politicians were (rightly) more concerned with peoples heath and wellbeing than aesthetics
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