Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby urbanisto » Wed Oct 02, 2013 10:32 pm

Sadly it looks utterly destroyed. I am sure the Dangerous Buildings section will spring to action in the morning.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby exene1 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 2:32 pm

Is this the building that was burnt?:

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Seen here on the left:

Morlan wrote:Marshalsea Lane, Thomas Street. Site of Robert Emmet's principal depot in 1803. These depots were used to manufacture and store war material. Taken from "Footprints of Emmet" published in 1903.

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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby Punchbowl » Thu Oct 03, 2013 3:55 pm

Afraid so - here's some pics from the Thomas St side - it's ruined. (apologies for the quality, it was lashing)

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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby exene1 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 5:55 pm

Bluddy hell, I was only looking at that building recently wondering how did it survive when all else around it was demolished.

It was either a two-storey rear annex to the main four-storey building, 144 Thomas Street, with a facade and doorways onto Marshalsea Lane, or a separate individual building on the lane.

So here it is with 144 Thomas Street still standing:

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And then after No. 144 was demolished to ground floor level. Still in use as a dwelling, apparently:

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And then on its own:

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Even struck me that it would be worth keeping in its own right, as an example of an old building in the lanes where Robert Emmet had his weapons depot. May well have been there in Emmet's time ............... And since they demolished his family's house on Stephen's Green only in the 1970s.

Even if the shell is kept now any sense of oldness it will have had inside will be gone.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby GrahamH » Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:01 pm

A shame indeed. I passed this morning and the former shop unit has been completely gutted. The roof of the return structure that exene1 charts has collapsed, and it appears that the interior is destroyed.

Apparently No. 143 and No. 144 have both been tied up in wrangling for quite some time. Believe it or not, I understand Dublin City Council themselves hold the fee simple to No. 143 next door, in spite of a giant advertising hoarding oversailing the site on the gable wall of No. 142. I'm not sure what the ownership status of No. 144 is.

The most unassuming house at No. 142 (below) is older than it appears. It has good, deeply coved cornicing to the first floor front room characteristic of 1750-1770. A modest arched and pilastered surround of c.1800-1830 survives at ground floor level in the side entrance corridor. I must find those pictures. There is evidence internally that the first floor windows were shortened in height from their original, more elegant length. Admittedly, the rest of the house is largely gutted and/or drylined out, but there's no question that the structure is salvagable. No. 143 appears to have been its matching pair. What a fine group they would have been.

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No. 142 is in the upcoming Allsop Space auction on October 15th. No doubt another of Thomas Street's old decency that will vaporise with time, or given the current climate in the city, just be gutted in broad daylight.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby Paul Clerkin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:02 am

Wasnt that a chipper back in the day?
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby GrahamH » Mon Oct 07, 2013 10:22 pm

Not sure Paul - certainly there's Fountain chipper a bit further down at the James's Street island. A particular favourite of the Kilmainham Gardaí.

Good to see the distinctive horizontally-paned sashes going back into No.37. Hearteningly, it appears the originals were retained or brought back to the site, as at least the second floor windows that have just gone in feature delightful cling film-like sheets of cylinder glass. The attic floor windows are more difficult to make out. But what about the massive internal works - are we going to see action here?

Encouraging also to see an informed, robust, principled approach taken by the case planner in respect of a recent retention application by Lidl for its nasty signage erected about two years ago on its flagship Thomas Street store, located in the high Venetian styled former Blanchardstown Mills. Virtually all of the arches of its impressive granite arcade were adorned with back-lit scenes of products along with additional signage to the windows: in her assessment, the planner concluded:

The proposed development, by reason of its excessive use of bright colours; replacement of a modest fascia sign with a poor quality and bulky projecting sign; obscuring of extensive areas of glazing with garish-coloured images; and the loss of an active window to the street, exacerbate the poor quality of the existing shopfront and detract from the character of the protected structure and the character and visual amenities of the streetscape in general. The proposed development therefore adversely affects the Thomas Street & Environs Architectural Conservation Area, is contrary to the policies and objectives set out in the Dublin City Development Plan 2011 - 2017, The Liberties Local Area Plan 2009 and the and the Thomas Street & Environs Architectural Conservation Area 2009 and is contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby urbanisto » Tue Oct 08, 2013 3:26 pm

Good news. I think the DCC team on Thomas Street deserve credit for recent efforts to bring a little more order to the street. It is only to Thomas Street's benefit.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby GrahamH » Thu Oct 10, 2013 11:30 am

Certainly they seem to be much more engaged and active than elsewhere in the city.

All of the sashes have now gone back into No.37. Day-glo brilliant white paint aside, they look stupendously good. The delightfully unorthodox pane arrangements were playing host to the most incredible light displays in the cylinder glass this morning, catching the low autumn light. It appears every sash was returned to site, unharmed, and reinstated. The first floor windows are particularly fine. It appears their boarding-up for the past decade has helped preserved so much of the glass. We forget that through bomb damage in Britain and on the Continent, and waves of redevelopment in the late 1800s and early 1900s that we did not experience, that Dublin - and Ireland - has some of the best surviving historic glass in Europe. These windows are a wonderful testament to this and the owners should be proud as punch of them.

These windows are pretty much unique in the city of Dublin - it was so important to get them back. The recent efforts also demonstrate the critical importance of securing the protection and/or return of original fabric as part of enforcement cases, as has been so tragically lacking in the case of No.90 Camden Street. Reproduction is simply not good enough. Planning authorities have to take the unique and irreplaceable value of historic fabric much more seriously, and lobby for additional powers as may be necessary to ensure they have adequate control over cases such as this. This is a good news story for Thomas Street, though I still dread to think what has happened inside.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby urbanisto » Thu Oct 10, 2013 9:21 pm

The restored windows...

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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby urbanisto » Thu Oct 10, 2013 9:23 pm

Meanwhile a couple of doors down, that restoration that never was...

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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby Punchbowl » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:24 am

The original paving outside the off-licence/former pub on James St (opposite the former COI curch) is currently being ripped up as part of the QBC works - beneath the destuction I noticed a lot of red brick, something which I also saw during the service digging at the Guinness Power Plant during the summer. What are these bricks - old cellar roofs, demolished buildings, foundations?
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby Antoine » Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:22 pm

Punchbowl wrote:The original paving outside the off-licence/former pub on James St (opposite the former COI curch) is currently being ripped up as part of the QBC works - beneath the destuction I noticed a lot of red brick, something which I also saw during the service digging at the Guinness Power Plant during the summer. What are these bricks - old cellar roofs, demolished buildings, foundations?


Punchbowl - I'm the archaeologist for the QBC shceme. The relayed paving outside the off-license was carefully lifted up by hand after each piece was numbered and photographed by archaeologists and sent to a special store set up behind Echlin Street so we can put it back the same way once the works are completed. This was a strategy agreed between myself and the DCC Archaeologist to protect them.

I monitored the c. 700mm deep trench for a new duct below this paving and did not notice a lot of red brick. However, today, outside the old pharmacy just to the east we did identify a lot of brick dust and burned clay associated with a c. 18th century industrial feature.

We also found part of the crown of a vaulted red brick cellar roof outside Steven's Gate development on the opposite side of the street. We moved the trench so as to preserve it.

Of particular interest, we identified an early metalled surface outside the church with no spire (Lighting World) which may be part of a 17th (or older) surface of James' Street or the old access to the old St. James' Church. The surface was cleaned and recorded by archaeologists and preserved below the ground.

An archaeologist (usually me) will be monitoring the digging part of these works every day so feel to drop by and ask for us (it says archaeologist on our viz-vests) and we'll be happy to show you what we are finding.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby Punchbowl » Tue Dec 10, 2013 11:17 pm

Thanks for the brilliant reply Antoine, I will bow to your superior knowledge on the bricks at the off-licence, although I presume being a former pub that there was a cellar there at some point, which may explain the shards of red brick I saw. Delighted the slabs are being looked after too

I also look forward to what surprises present themselves as you make your way down the street, particularly at the old site of the original 'James Gate' and along the route of the old city wall at Cornmarket

That metal surface outside the church is very interesting. What's your feeling on what it is?
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby gunter » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:18 am

There was no basement at the off-licence [41 James Street], nor apparently at the houses to the west, now a taxi office, leading to the suspicion that this section of James Street may have been originally occupied by 'weaver' type houses which, unlike most other brick built houses of the period, characteristically didn't have cellars.

Cork Street was apparently developed this way, with weaver-type houses interspersed with Billys and the odd vernacular structure.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby urbanisto » Thu Dec 12, 2013 12:54 pm

While the QBC may not deliver the quality of street environment that some would hope for on Thomas Street (the layout of the street essentially remains the same and the street is still very much viewed as a traffic route rather than a place that people might wish to linger on), the work undoubtedly will improve on the current dismal condition of the street. It also comes at a time of further improvements to the street and area which should hopefully start to stimulate some new development and rejuvenation.

The High Street dual carriageway will be the focus of a Part VIII to be published shortly considering how to make this section of street more hospitable to pedestrians. There are two new distillery developments opening in Newmarket in the coming month, bring a traditional industry back to the area, and a new cultural use mooted for the former St James's CoI Church. These will add to the various cultural attractions on the area. DCC have also had long standing plans to refurbish the former graveyard of St James's as a public park.

A recent application for a new student residence was submitted for one of the sites on the Digital Hub and a new planning scheme for the Hub will hopefully encourage temporary uses to take over some of its many vacant and derelict buildings along Thomas Street. The Hub is kind of getting there...slwoly but surely. Emmet House, an office premises on Thomas Street (not owned by the Hub) is also due to to be refurbished in the coming months which will be a shot in the arm for the street.

The nebulous "Dubline" strategy remains an unknown quantity. It will need to start delivering some tangible results, beyond apps and marketing-inspired initiatives. The wasteful proposed Dubline visitor centre at Barnardo's Square received permission a couple of months back. Its hardly the best way to spend a million or so...I think the money should be invested in small grants to encourage people to improve their premises, perhaps along these lines..targeted grants to stimulate new investment:

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Business continues to ebb and flow on Thomas Street and the biggest issue for businesses on the street is commercial rates and the lack of big draws to get customers coming back to the street. The retail profile of Thomas Street is very mixed to say the least. There is little or no reason to shop there beyond local needs such as supermarkets etc. It needs some new ideas.

The street remains a puzzle and its future remains uncertain. However, hopefully the impetus of the past year, which saw a voluntary group push for a greater focus on the street by DCC and other agencies, will lead to longer term growth and redevelopment.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby Antoine » Thu Dec 12, 2013 3:37 pm

Punchbowl wrote:I also look forward to what surprises present themselves as you make your way down the street, particularly at the old site of the original 'James Gate' and along the route of the old city wall at Cornmarket

Thank you very much. We will be very careful at these locations for obvious reasons – also there is a former watercourse (the Glib Water I think) at James’ Gate which is of great interest, and some human remains were found by workmen in front of St. Catherine’s church in 1973-4 so that’s another area of high potential.

Punchbowl wrote:That metal surface outside the church is very interesting. What's your feeling on what it is?

A ‘metalled’ surface is the somewhat confusing name archaeologists give to a densely packed surface of small stones, like gravel, often pushed into clay. This metalled surface comprises two stretches of sloping metalling 400mm-780mm below existing pavement level laid directly over natural clay subsoil. The surface stretches E-W over c. 36m across the frontages of Nos. 119, 120 and St. James' CoI Church (now Lighting World), and is truncated at No. 124 to the West (presumably by late Georgian basements).

Surfaces like this are difficult to date: there was nothing underneath it, and it is the earliest feature found by us on James’ Street so far. It is truncated by a possible late-18th century pit and numerous 19th century services, a few sherds of North Devon Gravel-Tempered Ware (c. 1630-1730) were found lying on top of it, and it predates the late Georgian streetscape as indicated by the level of the coal cellar crown identified outside No. 130 James' Street.

The most interesting thing about the metalled surface is that it appears to incorporate an access of some sort at a locally high point leading northwards off James’ Street approximately towards the existing gates of CoI church. As noted the surface is probably earlier than the 1860 church and thus is associated with something that was there before. It is the site of one of the oldest churches and graveyards in Dublin – St. James’, which later gave its name to the street, and in the medieval period it was a point on the European pilgrimage circuit. We may expose more of the surface after Christmas.

Location of surface: Western Extent: 313952.425E, 233917.780N, 16.352 OD (truncated at this point to W). Eastern extent: 313989.280E, 233921.733N, 16.124 OD (may extend further East)

Punchbowl wrote:… although I presume being a former pub that there was a cellar there at some point, which may explain the shards of red brick I saw. Delighted the slabs are being looked after too


gunter wrote:There was no basement at the off-licence [41 James Street], nor apparently at the houses to the west, now a taxi office, leading to the suspicion that this section of James Street may have been originally occupied by 'weaver' type houses which, unlike most other brick built houses of the period, characteristically didn't have cellars.


I didn’t find any evidence for basements in front of No. 41 (Next Door) and to the best of my knoweldge the modern shop has no access to a basement level, so you are probably right about this Guntar. I did find the backfilled open air basement-level areas in front of No. 43 and adjacent plot to the west (possibly not No.42) so this plot did have a basement; the current building (Spic & Span) is later however and the original building seems to have had a slightly different footprint. These basement areas are depicted on the 1910 25” OS Map, and a tiny part of the original building of No. 43 appears to survive in an odd curving feature inside a corner to the west of the modern building.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby Punchbowl » Sun Jan 05, 2014 6:04 pm

Another fire, this time in this on Thomas Court. Always wondered about this building actually, it's probably the oldest building left on that street, but it's not on the RPS

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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby GrahamH » Mon Jan 13, 2014 11:46 pm

Well spotted, Punchbowl. The list of important buildings in this area that are not Protected Structures has yet another addition. I can't believe this isn't even listed within the curtilage of the church!

Presumably it's the former presbytery of St. Catherine's, built contemporaneously with the church itself in the 1760s. Interestingly, the L-shaped plan of the house accords with John Rocque's depiction of the site on his map of 1756, before the church was rebuilt, lending the tantalising possibility that it incorporates early fabric. It almost certainly contains recycled material from the previous building. The block-and-start granite doorcase and carriage arch are of course typical of their period, while the tripartite central ground floor window is a later modification. It has lost its original roof to a flat 20th-century affair.

Sadly the building appears to have been completely gutted in the fire, though at least its magnificent raised-and-fielded panelled front door that we saw lying outside on the news footage survived with only some charring. The building was for sale for only €200,000 about 18 months ago - I meant to go have a look at the time. It appears to have gone sale agreed, but there's no record of it having sold. Presumably the sale fell through. What a mess all round.

You'd itch to get hacking at that cement render coating.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby Punchbowl » Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:32 pm

Well hopefully its restoration includes stipping the render, or at least a lick of paint.

After years of nothing, Thomas St/James st has sprung to life in recent weeks - at the moment we have these current projects:

The QBC works are currently ploughing their way towards Thomas St
The empty shop at the corner of Catherines Lane has been sold and is currently being gutted
The small row of houses/shops at the corner of Crane Lane have been tidyed up (including window supports)
The Millhouse Pub opposite the fountain on James st has the scaffolding up
A number of empty Diageo buildings are now 'to let', as is the old Post Office
The site behind the old Library is being cleared
The old COI church has been sold and is due to be converted to a Distillery
McGrudders pub and buildings have been sold
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby urbanisto » Tue Jan 21, 2014 6:53 pm

Great to see isnt it.

The site behind the former Library now a Digital Hub office unit is to be used as a temporary car park for the next few years pending development. McGrudders was sold to Digital Hub so it effectively owns this whole terrace now. Also within Digital Hub, permission was granted before Christmas for a 100-bed student residence on Bonham Street.

Work is to start shortly on a rebuild and refurb of Emmet House at 138/140 Thomas Street. The plan is to set it out for serviced office use. The facade will be remodelled to better reflect the 3 plots it currently occupies.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby kefu » Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:50 am

It's a pattern that seems to be repeated across the city. A lot of land and property that was 'sat on' for the past four or five years is now being sold and leased.
The concern, I think, would be that we take an approach of accepting low standards in what work is done on the basis that it is better than nothing and a sign of an improving economy.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby GrahamH » Fri Jan 24, 2014 1:14 am

Well this is it. While most of the above is to be welcomed, there are a lot of elements of concern.

Take, for example, the approach to public realm improvement now being undertaken as part of the QBC. This is hardly an illustrious start. If ever you saw engineer-led ‘design’, this is it – ranks of galvanised electrical cabinets mounted against the historic curtilage of pretty much the only historic public building on James’s Street! If you went out of your way to make a bags of this, you couldn’t achieve better.

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The length of the thoroughfare is also to be treated to the skeletal proportions of faux heritage lampposts, endorsed through part-funding by Fáilte Ireland. Proudly declared as “The Cuffe Street Post”, as flatteringly showcased by our model of Palace Street, Thomas Street will soon be lined with over fifty gawky, badly detailed, skinny posts with thin features. If this is the best that can be done, we’d be better off with some decent contemporary catalogue jobs.

But at least the paving is encouraging. Very heartening to see crisp concrete slabs being deployed with no finicky detailing.

No. 29 appears to be an unstoppable disaster unfolding before our eyes. Tragically, this important building is not a Protected Structure (another to add to the above list), in spite of incorporating extensive early fabric.

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One of the most intact Victorian merchant premises left in the city, it is a substantial c.1885 rebuilding of an earlier house that is famously depicted by James Malton in the 1790s as having an overhanging eaves roof. A single-room deep building is shown on Rocque’s map of 1756 - more than likely the same building as Malton's.

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This almost certainly accounts for the reason why, today, No. 29 has the most extraordinarily deep plan to its front rooms, and ridiculously small rooms to the rear.

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It’s like a ballroom up there.

By contrast, the back rooms are miniscule, comically dominated by the enormous angled chimneystack that is shared by the front and back rooms.

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This stack would originally have served the pair of square houses, indeed, if not all four houses, show above on Rocque’s map above. An extraordinary survivor. We can only presume that much of the wall fabric also dates from this time, with the late Victorian rebuilding stitched in about it. A subtle kink in the St. Catherine’s Lane elevation also accords with this ancient memory of former plot divisions.

A skinny rear room looking out to the back. Only about eight feet wide!

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No. 29 also has the most marvellous cornice sprawling way out onto the ceiling in its principal reception room on the first floor. Clearly the rebuilders weren’t going to be outdone in the comedy stakes by that chimneystack; the cornice has notions beyond any reasonable expectations. An unforgettable, ridiculously lovely, Dublin merchant thing.

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The stairwell, unusually and helpfully, has separate access from St. Catherine’s Lane, rather than consuming retail frontage on the main street.

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It has evocative views overlooking the austere side elevation of St. Catherine's from its useful laneway windows.

The top floor front room was originally two rooms, with the shadows of former cornices still evident. Again, pretty much everything is intact up here. The little fireplace on the outside wall is catered for by the charming dinky stack on the outward elevation.

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Also worthy of note is the picturesque highly steeply pitched roof. As far as Victorian roofs go, they don’t get better than this. Shame I don’t have a rear shot.

Many well meaning people have viewed this property over the past five years, which was for sale with multiple agents on behalf of the Brabazon family. It eventually sold in the past few weeks – I’d imagine for little more than €220,000 – and is now very suddenly a major construction site, with a pavement licence issued to a company registered down the road in Bow Lane, Kilmainham.

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(an unusually seductive conservation shade on its hoarding!)

Vast plumes of lime plaster were quite literally filling the breadth of Thomas Street yesterday, as acres of historic material was shovelled into the rubbish chute. One can draw one’s own conclusions. As mentioned, this is - yet another - non-Protected Structure. Not that it makes the slightest bit of difference. A similar building a few doors down has been gutted for the past two years, and DCC won’t budge on it.

Next up, Frawley’s.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby Antoine » Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:22 pm

GrahamH wrote:Take, for example, the approach to public realm improvement now being undertaken as part of the QBC. This is hardly an illustrious start. If ever you saw engineer-led ‘design’, this is it – ranks of galvanised electrical cabinets mounted against the historic curtilage of pretty much the only historic public building on James’s Street! If you went out of your way to make a bags of this, you couldn’t achieve better.


Yes you are right to bring this up Graham. I spoke to the DCC Engineer about the placements of these cabinets: he knew about the historic nature of the building and would have preferred to place them elsewhere but he felt he had no choice. The cabinets themselves are not mounted against the historic wall (which is a Protected Structure, built I think 1860s), and instead are free-standing and mounted on the pavement, so at least in the future they could be removed with no impact on the wall. We excavated the underground holes for the cabinets, partly by hand, and found more the 17th century metalled surface I described above, and above it some nice late 17th/early 18th century artefacts.

Similar cabinets were also supposed to be positioned further east on James Street outside the old Post Office/trio of red-brick Protected Structures; in this case the DCC Engineer in charge of the project was able to change their location away from the historic building.
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Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Postby GrahamH » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:49 pm

Thanks Antoine for the background. I don't know how you endure the bitter monitoring conditions as I pass every morning!

That's good news about the post office ensemble, thanks to your efforts, but it's still a shame for St. James's. One would have thought the cabinets could be clustered and moved to the end of the wall at least. Also, all of these services are plotted and planned in advance, so this impact should have been spotted and eradicated on paper. It doesn't bode well for the stretch further east, which is an Architectural Conservation Area, and which local authorities have a habit of thinking only applies to private property and not their own public realm. Have service placements been contrived in relation to the sensitive environment there? One suspects not.

Peering through the open windows of No. 29 today, the first floor ceiling, and our cornice, is gone.
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