Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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@gunter wrote:

That big house on Manor Street is a gem, but I would be 95% certain it was never a ‘Dutch Billy’. It’s in the same tradition, but I think it’s a transitional house using many of the features and building techniques of the gabled tradition, but with the new flat parapet from the start.

Almost every other house in Dublin with a pair of apex roofs was a twin ‘Dutch Billy’ (Bachelors Walk, James’s St. etc.), you simply didn’t go to the bother of constructing two roofs unless it was to exploit the potential for a pair of gables, but the Manor St. house is hipped front and back and has, what appears to be, an original moulded granite coping to the parapet, which is quite rare.

I’m going to back-track on this assessment, but we’ll come back to that in a minute.

@hutton wrote:

I beg to differ – looking at that snap, it appears to me that the top two corners are of red brick, wheras the mass of the building is in brown brick, with a definate Billy outline as best seen by the gentle curves in the top left corner.

There’s been a disturbing development with this important house, and early indications are that hutton must have been a consultant on the job 😉

The facade of no. 42 Manor Street had been shrouded in scaffolding for months and, in my innocence, I’d assumed that, given that the house is a Protected Structure, some meticulous conservation was going on.

Unfortunately this appears not to have been the case.

No. 42 Manor Street as it appeared last April and today.

I don’t know what exactly they were at here, they seem to have decided that the obviously renewed brickwork at both ends of the parapet masked some kind of scroll profiles that simply weren’t present in Dublin in the 18th century building record (except on wings to the sides of major gabled mansions). The only way that you can even begin to argue the case for scrolls is by asserting that the remaining, un-renewed, brickwork to the top storey is original, but then, inexplicably, they’ve taken out the three ‘original’ top floor windows and replaced them with three lunettes?

To achieve the new profile, they’ve taken out and chopped up the very rare, almost certainly 18th century, moulded stone cornice.

This is supposed to be a ‘Protected Structure’ for Christ sake!

I struggled with interpreting this house the last time it came up for discussion and that moulded parapet and the square proportions of the upper storey windows were the main stumbling blocks.

On reflection, I think that I was wrong to suggest that this house was not a twin ‘Billy’, for these reasons.

When you see the house on Google Earth it’s clear that the main axial twin roof volumes, even though they are hipped to front and rear (with apparently early cornice details), incorporate one defining twin ‘Billy’ characteristic that would be unnecessary if the hipped roofs and parapet gutters had been there at the start. The central transverse roof volume, (the equivalent of the cruciform roof of the standard Billy) which we can see (from the side elevations) the house wants to have, is absent, as it is absent from almost every known twin ‘Billy’ in Dublin. This was done in order to allow the central valley to drain to the rear and to avoid repeating the mess of wandering drain pipes across the facade of the house, coming from centrally located rain water outlets, often over centrally located windows, that can be seen in the earliest attempts to design twin ‘Billys’, most notably at no. 10 Mill Street.

The facade and roof profile of 42 Manor Street, 7 Bachelor’s Walk and 30 Jervis Street (Leask) for comparison.

The only convincing way to explain a roof profile like this is to recognise that originally the axial roofs must have run to gables to front and rear. In the ‘Dutch Billy’ tradition, roofs were designed, or contrived, to serve the gabled facades, not the other way round. Later, or narrower, twin ‘Billys’, like 32 Thomas Street and 25 James’s Street, dispensed with the remaining bits of tranverse roof altogether, as they must have come to be recognised as essentially useless as attic spaces and also largely unnecessary as chimney supports, given the robustness of the central corner chimney stack.

What I think may have happened with this house, and the surviving, but similarly altered, Bachelor’s Walk twin ‘Billy’, is that, as still fashionable addresses later in the 18th century, these houses were modernised in a very deliberate and professional manner with the original early 18th century pedimented gables taken off and the existing roof structure modified and essentially designed-out of the composition with replacement, low-key, hipped profiles installed and with new flat parapets given even greater emphasis by the addition of expensive moulded parapet copings. There may even have been Georgian building firms specializing in this field; the similarities between the parapet treatment of no. 7 Bachelor’s Walk and that of no. 42 Manor Street, is striking.

A detail of the moulded parapet coping to no. 42 Manor Street, before alteration.

A detail of the similar moulded parapet coping to no. 7 Bachelor’s Walk.

Although initially difficult to unravel, on reflection, no. 42 Manor Street can probably be interpreted as a pretty legible testament to both of the great 18th century building traditions in Dublin and it certainly should not have been altered in this cavalier fashion, potentially distroying in the process valuable records of early alterations in the building’s fabric. It’s not like we have that many good authentic examples of an early 18th century twin ‘Dutch Billys’ expensively made over later in the 18th century to conform to a new ‘Georgian’ taste.

The hatchet job done on this ‘Protected Structure’ obscures all of that and turns the house into a kind of caricature.

To add insult to injury, the crude re-pointing of the brick facade is as rough as I’ve seen in the last twenty years.

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