1899 – Dublin Tramways Power Station, Ringsend, Dublin

Architect: H.F. Parshall



At its peak, the Dublin tram system boasted over 97 km of active line – it was heavily used, profitable and advanced in technology and passenger facilities. Most of the services ran within the city centre and near suburbs. Additionally, there were two longer-range services, one reaching to Poulaphouca Falls, and two services concerning Howth. As per Stevenson’s example, the first Dublin trams were horse drawn, but near-full electrification was completed by 1901. The system had a reputation for technical innovation, and was described in 1904 reportage as “one of the most impressive in the world” – so much so that representatives of other cities would come to inspect it. Originally intended to power the trams in the city centre, the Ringsend Power Station would eventually produce enough power for most of the system.

“The working of the electric lines to Dalkey produced such a favorable impression on the public mind, that in 1897 the Dublin United Company obtained power to equip the whole of the system in the city and suburbs a project which they have but recently completed and which system it is the purpose of the following article to describe. In the autumn of the same year some of the directors of the company made another trip to the United States and at that time made contracts for most of the steam and electrical machinery necessary for the generating station and at the same time secured the services of H.F. Parshall who has since acted as their consulting engineer. The entire station and the whole system of electrical equipment was designed by Mr Parshall through whose careful management and engineering ability the complete system has been brought to a successful issue.”

“The building is of steel work throughout from the foundations to the monitors of the roof and rests on heavy concrete foundations varying in depth from 15 ft to 20 ft. The is 180 ft long x 160 ft wide over all the engine which is 80 ft wide inside measurement being separated by a party wall from the boiler house which is 76 ft wide. The engine room is 62 ft high from the floor to the monitor roof and the boiler room is 66 ft high from the stoking floor to the monitor roof. The entire building is above ground, there being properly speaking no underground basement…”

“The engine room proper which is 153 ft long x 80 ft wide presents a very attractive appearance being lined throughout with white glazed brick. It contains at present five Corliss compound condensing direct coupled engines manufactured by EP Allis & Company of Milwaukee, and supplied by RW Blackwell & Company Ltd, each of which is driving a 500 kw General Electric generator furnished by the British Thomson Houston Company of London.” The Street Railway Journal, Volume 16, May 5 1900

Rarely recorded views of Ringsend Tram Power Station, formerly of the Dublin United Transport Co., pictured during demolition in April 1969 by Tom Wall and recently digitised ex IRRS Archive.