'Dutch Billys'

Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby ake » Fri Sep 05, 2008 6:44 pm

Here's a clearer detail of the Van der Hagen painting of Waterford City, seen earlier in the thread.

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As for surviving structures, is it naive of me to conclude that since the Buildings of Ireland Survey has no records for any of these residential types long before 1720 that none exists?

Now I wonder if there are any interesting old photographs in this respect?
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Sun Sep 07, 2008 11:27 am

ake wrote: . . . a clearer detail of the Van der Hagen painting of Waterford City, seen earlier in the thread. Now I wonder if there are any interesting old photographs in this respect?


That's a much better copy, ake.

I can't find any photographs on the web of the Waterford Quays, either now or in the past. Google earth don't seem to cover Waterford. If I hadn't a bunch of other things to do at the moment, today would have been a good day to go down there and have a look see, all the traffic would would be going the other way.

On the regional spread of Dutch Billys, I tracked down a copy of a 1786 painting of High Street in Belfast, by John Nixon (who, lets hope had a day job) and some nice standard three storey Billys show up. There's a group on the left and, in the distance, another low terrace of two or three. The houses at right centre may simply have dormer windows, it's hard to tell.

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There's at least one other print, or painting, of Billys in Belfast that I recall seeing, but that I haven't tracked down yet. They seem to be extraordinarily disinterested in them up there, you would have thought that Dutch Billys would be right up their street, as it were.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby ctesiphon » Mon Sep 08, 2008 11:51 am

I was up in the Weavers Square / Cork Street area yesterday to have a look at some of it in the flesh.

Interesting to see how succcessive alterations have utterly undermined any sense of enclosure in Weavers Square, from the removal of terraces on the east side and especially the south side, to the blocks of flats set 5 metres behind the old building line. Even the 'chamfering' of the north west corner, which now means Ormond Street just flows into the square instead of entering it.

(Also, the block of flats on the corner of Chamber Street and Weavers Square seemed still to have people living in it; or, at least, people coming out of it- a mother and three small kids.)

Anyway, more on topic- I saw this house on Cork Street, just opposite the junction with Ormond Street, and it set me thinking- a candidate? I don't think it's been mentioned on here before.

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Low ground floor, slightly odd proportions, windows slightly closer than usual, possible removal of upper floor; and then, from Virtual Earth (just above the R110 label), it seems the roof is split in two, with one part of the plan projecting further than the other.

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Maybe my eyes have been opened by this thread, or maybe my mind has been poisoned. ;) gunter (or anyone else, for that matter)- your thoughts?
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Mon Sep 08, 2008 11:16 pm

The Cork Street house would be a possibility, the entrance door is on the right side of the facade diagonally opposite the rear return, but the return looks a little wide (could have been re-built). In a standard Billy, the return has to be narrow enough to still leave room on the rear elevation for a window to the main back room as well as the full width of the stairwell.

This is a good example at 56 Capel Street. A unremarkable 19th century re-built brick facade conseals a classic Billy arrangement to the rear.

Image Image
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby GrahamH » Tue Sep 09, 2008 12:17 am

Oooh that's a real beauty! gunter must start organising Billy Hunts around the city - it'd be like Pat Liddy Tours, sprinkled liberally with added nerdism.

In reference to ctesiphon's picture, passing the other day I noticed the large house in front of the red shed (with the roller shutter) is identical to the Victorian houses on Weaver's Square. It's located just across the road from the entrance to the square. I suspect it was the intention to clear all of Weaver's Square and replace it with these houses, but the developer halted mid-way, hence the survival of the ruined Billies on the square beside otherwise well-to-do housing. Is it any wonder a later picture of these houses from the 20th century shows them in poor condition.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby ake » Wed Sep 10, 2008 10:21 pm

just as an aside, would anybody have any good links to material on Dutch architecture 17th/18thc with good pictures? can't find anthing online myself.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Thu Sep 11, 2008 11:08 am

ake; no obvious web link comes to mind, but I do have an old fashioned book that might be of some use to you. It's just a simple 'Amsterdam Canal Guide' published in 1978, but it has accurate line drawings of every house on the four circular canals and it gives the dates and details of any alterations or re-buildings.

Interestingly it charts restorations by the 'Stadsherstel' from as early as 1940, when you would have thought that they might have had other problems on their hands.

I've found the book to be an invaluable source in trying to understand the stylistic development of the gabled house, from the 16th century onwards, in the city where the development of the gabled house type probably reached it's zenith..

I'm sure a short loan spell could be organized.

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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Fri Sep 12, 2008 12:02 pm

ctesiphon wrote:
I saw this house on Cork Street, just opposite the junction with Ormond Street, and it set me thinking- a candidate? I don't think it's been mentioned on here before.

Image



Had a look at the back today and sure enough, it does fit the pattern!

Rear return on the opposite side to the stairwell with window to main back room in between. Not much sign of original brickwork, but interesting remnant none the less.

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Here's one of those well known views of the three 'Dutch Billys' on Sweeney's Lane (continuation of Ardee Street to the south), just to re-acquaint ourselves with the complete article.

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Apparently the small square plaque on the left side of the first gable recorded the date 1721. Date stones themselves are a bit of a Dutch characteristic. These houses were among the most drawn and photographed houses in the city until they were knocked down in 1932 and replaced by a yard.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby tommyt » Fri Sep 12, 2008 10:20 pm

Gunter, you musn't have a pair of trousers with the arse left in them at this stage from sneaking round the back of various inner city gaffs to investigate the bona-fides of our heritage- I would doubt many of the local guard mutts are of Nederlands stock-more likely of Alsatian or Staffordshire lineage!!!
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Sat Sep 13, 2008 12:06 am

It's a funeral home next door, I could have been looking for a loved one.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby phil » Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:53 am

I have been reading this thread whenever I get a chance over the last few months and find it fascinating. It has led me to all sorts of questions about the history of Dublin's urban form. One broad theme that I see emerging is the manner in which many of these buildings may still exist, yet remain almost invisible. It has got me wondering if this is one of the defining characteristics of Dublin's urban morphology. Whether it is the re-facading of Dutch Billy's, older Georgians getting a Victorian make-over, or, more recently, the 'facadist' approach to some of our built heritage, this form of layering seems to be a constant in the development of Dublin through the ages. Added to this could be the present trend of placing a more 'contemporary' facade on modernist buildings, or a box on top of older stock. Maybe I am way off the mark, but it is just something that struck me and got me rethinking my opinion on some present trends.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Thu Oct 02, 2008 12:46 am

Re-fronting has probably always been there as an option when decisions about renovation, or rebuilding, were being considered, as it is today, but I suspect that the trend to re-front 'Dutch Billys' as flat parapeted 'Georgians', as well as reflecting a desire to conform to the prevailing architectural orthodoxy, involved the other motivation of simple practicality. Exposed projecting pediment topped gables must have been particularly prone to severe weathering and/or occassionally falling into the street.

Whereas Billys survive today in their Georgial altered form all over Dublin, It's interesting to note that where Billys survived long enough to be protographed in their original unaltered state was only in the depressed areas of the city where the houses had become tenements and no investment in the building fabric was being made. This is why 'Dutch Billys' have long been associated with the Liberties in particular, when in fact there are far more Billys (albeit re-fronted) to be seen today in Dublin 1 and 2.

South Fredrick Street is a case in point.

Of the 10 surviving houses on the east side of the street, probably 7 or 8 of them are essentially 'Dutch Billys' built between the early 1740s and the mid 1750s.

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The east side of the street looking north. At first glance, this just looks like a normal small scale Georgian Street.

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The same terrace from the rear. The cruciform roofs, single shared central chimney stacks and gabled return structures are all classic 'Dutch Billy'. The lengths to which the Georgian owners of no. 27 went to modernize their 'Billy' included not just replacing the whole cruciform roof and front gable, but also the back gable and they even re-roof the tiny return to get rid of it's rear gable.
(There's a nice piece of original timber panelling to be seen in the front room and hallway in Brubaker's Cafe at no. 22)

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No. 24 with the very low rain water outlets giving away the profile of the axial volume of the cruciform roof behind the altered flat parapet. The quite unGeorgian window proportions, particularly on the second floor, are also interesting.

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South Fredrick's Street in Rocques' time (1756). The street was a slightly lower status version of Molesworth Street, where curvilinear gabled house of all sizes must have presented a stunning contrast to the sober palladianism of Leinster House.

Because of the largely convincing 'Georgian' appearance of the street frontage, it could be argued that the South Fredrick Street terrace were 'transitional' houses that utilized a 'Dutch Billy' plan and rear elevation, but were always flat parapeted and hipped roofed to the front, but I don't buy that. 'Transitional' houses are a distinct group (more endangered even than 'Billys') and there's no evidence that there was ever a house type in Dublin that was designed to be hipped roofed to the front and gabled to the back.

These are photographs from 1995 of a terrace of 'Transitional' houses on James' Street (one of which still survives, just).

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The steeply pitched roofs and shared central chimney stacks survive from the 'Dutch Billy' tradition, but there is no exploitation of the attic space and the reduction in window height towards the top storey is original to the construction and 'Georgian' in character. The brickwork is also a mottled yellow/red as opposed to the deep red that is characteristic of the 'Billy'.

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As with the three 'Transitional' houses at the west end of Hendrick Street, the flat parapet and hipped roof to the front of these James' Street houses is reflected in an even simpler hipped roof arrangement to the rear. The return is still there, but it's litterally starting to disappear, no longer an essential element, it only reaches to the first floor, or even just the ground floor in some instances.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby ctesiphon » Thu Oct 02, 2008 10:43 am

gunter wrote:(There's a nice piece of original timber panelling to be seen in the front room and hallway in Brubaker's Cafe at no. 22)


No. 26 retains many internal features too, at least in the hallway and stairs- heavy stair handrail with swan necks, door and window architraves, etc.

And the door on the top floor leading to the room in the return is about 5'10" high- a lesson learned the hard way.

(Interesting also to see that the archway from Sth Frederick St to Stable Lane [which one!] is an original feature- I wasn't aware.)
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Thu Oct 02, 2008 2:52 pm

ctesiphon wrote:No. 26 South Fredrick St. . . . door on the top floor leading to the room in the return is about 5'10" high- a lesson learned the hard way.


Tall people get what's coming to them, as far as I'm concerned.

I found some of my pics of that extraordinary house in Mountrath which, if built in 1713 as stated, comes right from that period when builders were grappling with the challenge of ornamental gables and complicated roof structures.

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I wonder does anyone have any local knowledge. or old prints, of this house?
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby tommyt » Fri Oct 03, 2008 12:22 pm

[quote="ctesiphon"]No. 26 retains many internal features too, at least in the hallway and stairs- heavy stair handrail with swan necks, door and window architraves, etc.

And the door on the top floor leading to the room in the return is about 5'10" high- a lesson learned the hard way.



Must google old news stories to see if the re was ever an attempted break in at the PDs office by a confused looking, tall gentleman :p
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby ctesiphon » Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:10 pm

Tall? I'm the same height as Joe Jordan was in the football Top Trumps! :D

(26 is actually the building opposite PDHQ, so I deny your accusation! I was, in fact, trying to spy on their AGM, but the lack of visible evidence suggests it was being held in, how shall I put it... a cupboard?)
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Oct 07, 2008 3:46 am

The birthplace of Swift in Hoey's Court
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby phil » Tue Oct 07, 2008 11:07 am

Nice sketch.

Interesting to note the 'S' shaped binders/retainers used here (wrong word, and would be very grateful for proper word here). Still see quite a few of them around Dublin. A house on Drumcondra Road comes to mind, and I recall seeing them at various other locations that I can't think of at the moment too.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Tue Oct 07, 2008 2:55 pm

Paul Clerkin wrote:The birthplace of Swift in Hoey's Court


That house is a bit of a puzzle! Swift was born in 1667 and his birth place is always given as 7 Hoey's Court, but I'm not sure that the house in this print could be that early.

Of course this could always be another example of that long tradition of commemorating the birth place of famous people by attaching the historical footnote, or the plaque as the case may be, to the nearest decent house still standing at the time of the commemoration. (The Beethoven House in Bonn would be a good example)

This is Hoey's Court in 1756 and again in 1872, after half the houses, probably including no. 7, had been demolished.

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phil wrote:Interesting to note the 'S' shaped binders/retainers used here .


I can't think what the special name for these things might be, but it's 'Tie Bars' that connect them and hold the building together. I know people who lived in a house on the quays that was held together by tie-bars and they used to be terrified in storms because the tie-bars would 'sing'.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby phil » Wed Oct 08, 2008 2:40 pm

Thanks for that Gunter. I would say they make a very interesting noise in the wind!
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby ggeraghty » Fri Oct 10, 2008 4:31 pm

Loving this thread. I noticed a building on Queen Street this morning that is almost defo a Dutch Billy. It's one of the Bargaintown buildings and it looks like it's more or less intact at the roof line at the front of the building.
You can see it on this link: http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCP&cp=swr0r9gg8zsn&style=b&lvl=2&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&scene=29506912&phx=0&phy=0&phscl=1&where1=dublin%2C%20ireland&encType=1
The building in question is beside the white building that is on the corner of Queen and Arran. You see the top floor windows are different. Also the roof line/parapet still has the classic Dutch Billy shape, in other words rounded off rather than squared off.
Has this building been discussed? It looks like its rather original to me.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Sat Oct 11, 2008 6:39 pm

ggeraghty wrote:. . . I noticed a building on Queen Street this morning that is almost defo a Dutch Billy. It's one of the Bargaintown buildings . . . .


I think Devin might have put up a better picture of this one, but I can't just locate it at the moment.

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Queen Street.

Not sure about it though. This house, and another similar one in Mary Street, could be Billys with a Victorian make over, or they could just be Victorian. Both are close to corners which might explain why the characteristic rear returns appear to be absent (in the circumstances where the building plots converge and space to the rear was restricted). For sure, both Queen Street and Mary Street were first developed in the period when the curvilinear gabled house was pretty much the the only show in town, so it is possible that they are, at least in part, surviving Billys.

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Mary Street.

While most Dutch Billys were either three of four storeys, there appears to have been a significant sub-group that were five storey and also more specifically 'Dutch' in their detailing. The tall house behind the tree in Malton's print of Stephen's Green (posted earlier) and a house on the south side of Haymarket would be Dublin examples and then there's that amazing five storey house besisd the exchange in Limerick that CologneMike posted up a fews pages back.

It would be a interesting exercise to gather together the known five storey Billys and get a look at them and see if we can stick dates on any of them.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby GrahamH » Sun Oct 12, 2008 12:38 am

Wouldn't it just. Indeed an entire city survey for that matter, piecing together all surviving fragments and documentary evidence as an establishing baseline study. There's a couple of hours whiled away for ya gunter, allbeit minus the €120k.

I agree that both Mary Street and Queen Street are sadly dubious cases (you can throw Dame Street into that category too for what it's worth). Although in the case of Queen Street, quite why you would build such an ugly structure with actual intent is not entirely clear. Perhaps it's a thorough rebuild of a Billy where like with modern-day replacement plastic windows, a tenuous element of reproduction is incorporated for the sake of reassuring continuity - in this case the clustered central windows are the dodgy plastic glazing bars of the 1870s.

So many interesting earlier postings there - Mountrath a gem! And an interesting point raised by Phil regarding facadisim (we won't go down that road again), but it does indeed appear we have been at it a long time in this city. I suppose the central difference today however is that erecting a reproduction facade on a modern-framed building aspires to a much greater level of 'deception' than the make-do-and-mend improving efforts carried out on Billies. Conversely, reinstating a Billy facade on a thoroughly altered former Billy such as those of Thomas Street is a move of great integrity and arguably the easiest of all decisions to make in the reproduction debate.

Good to see South Frederick Street posted - saves me having to upload my pics :). Is it disturbing I'm now getting excited every time I encounter a downpipe serving a low outlet in a parapet? This was very helpful in identifying South Frederick houses that aren't easily visible from the rear. Also now that the PDs are ordering in the parcel tape, one doubts many of them will miss their stunning early Georgian scalloped chimneypiece in their front room mounted on a corner chimneybreast. It's well worth a gawk in their window if anyone hasn't seen it already. An extremely rare survivor.

I have been Billy hunting about Dublin over the past while and hope to post some pictures soon - some known and one perhaps not (and right slap bang in the midst of one of the main streets of the city). Also, MSN Live Search Maps should be renamed Billy Camâ„¢. A purpose-designed program if ever there was one.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby gunter » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:49 pm

GrahamH wrote: There's a couple of hours whiled away for ya gunter, allbeit minus the €120k.


I'd only squander it on food and bills anyway.

We're on much firmer ground here with this house at 31 Aungier Street. This is a Protected Structure and is actually called up as a 'Hugenot house' on DCC record of PSs no less.

The flush windows are a clue, but the very high ground floor is initially confusing until we factor in that it probably incorporates a half sunken basement with original front railings and front area having probably been removed when the street went commercial. The back is classic 'Billy' with the cut-off upper landing window giving clear evidence that there was another storey and not just a gabled roof.

ImageImage

Initially there's not much to base a reconstruction on though; are we dealing with a four storey, or even a rare five storey? If a standard four storey, did it have a single window in the attic storey or did it have another pair of windows in another full storey, either in line with those below, or slightly pinched together under three quarter height wall plates?

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I've ghosted in a simple curvilinear gable with a single window, based on the evidence of a 1950s photograph that shows this house, no. 31, still shorn of it's top storey, but at a time when the adjoining streetscape was still relatively intact. In this photograph there is a striking resemblence between no. 31 and no. 30 (beyond Aungier Lane) with the same unusually high floor levels and general proportions. There's enough in that to convince me that these two houses were designed as a pair, or at least were designed to be consistant with each other.

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The 1950s photograph of Aungier Street taken from the triangle at the junction with Bishop Street with no. 30 (reduced at the time to a simple triangular gable) in the distance.

In isolation the 'Dutch Billy' can look a bit flaky, but in their original context, the rhythm of the gables would have created fantastic streetscapes full of energy and variety.

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This is a rough stab at a reconstruction of the gables on these houses. Obviously the rendered elevations and the shop fronts belong to a period after the gables had disappeared, but there's a limit to what I'm goin' to do without my €120k.
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Re: 'Dutch Billys'

Postby Devin » Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:18 pm

Good stuff gunter.

I remember the Dublin Civic Trust discovered a number of late-17th century houses on Aungier Street in the 1990s - at least four with heavy pear or barley-sugar staircases from ground to top.
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