Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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Anonymous
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Have just noticed that DCC have recently granted Planning permission (Reg no. 2430/09) for the redevelopment of the site of that great terrace of six Billys at nos. 6 – 11 Hendrick Street.


The gabled houses are nos 6,7,8,9,10 & 11 with no. 12 (the one surviving house) beyond these.


Planning drawing of the apartment block planned for the site of the six houses, (now a yard and store).

Unbelievably Dublin City Council haven’t even sought a survey record of the foundations of these important houses.

As usual there’s a 48 page ‘Archaeological Assesment Report’ that completely misses the significance of the site. They go on about the possibility of of locating part of the 17th century Bowling Green and some stray burials associated with a nearby graveyard, but the report manages not to mention the term ‘Dutch Billy’ or even ‘Gabled House’ once!

They report that they put three trial trenches into the eastern half of the site and discovered that the entire basements of these three houses were preserved and loosely back-filled, . . . . and that’s it!

One miserable diagram that could have been drawn by a ten year old! . . . . that’s as much as these houses merit?

The report states:

”The testing revealed the backfilled basements of the three 18th buildings, depicted on Rocque’s map of 1756, that had previously stood on the eastern side of the proposed development site. A rear return was identified to the east of the middle building (no. 7) as well as one internal subdividing wall in the eastern basement (no. 6) and a chimneystack between the eastern and central building (nos. 6 & 7). . . . .On the basis of the results of the archaeological testing programme it is concluded that the eastern part of the proposed development, comprising nos. 6 – 8 Hendrick Street, will have no significant negative impact on archaeological material and no further mitigation is recommended for the eastern part of the proposed development site”.

There were no third-party submissions and apparently no inter-departmental reports from the DCC Conservation Officer, or the City Archaeology Dept.!! . . just a condition to carry out the same feeble ‘archaeological assessment’ of the western half of the site (nos 9, 10 & 11) which couldn’t be explored the first time round because there’s a single storey structure on this part of the site.

The really infuriating thing here is that there are significant unanswered questions about these houses that a thorough basement survey could probably answer:

Nos 6 & 7 appear the least altered in the 1950s photograph and are classic three-bay houses, as is no. 12 beyond, which we know was slightly later (post Rocque) and was not gabled but had all the attributes of a transitional house before it was drastically ‘renovated’ ten or fifteeen years ago (looked at earlier in the thread). No. 8 & 11 are two bay and the entire facades (and not just the gables) may well have been subsequently rebuilt. Similarly although nos 9 & 10 appear to have retained the broad string courses that mirror nos. 6 & 7, the single bay arrangement and the window proportions suggest that these facades may also have been altered in the 19th century. In this regard, a detailed survey of the window arrangements at basement level could tell us a lot.

What should happen in this case is that the full basement storey of these six houses should be excavated of all backfill, surveyed and photographed in detail, before careful removal, under specialist ‘building’ archaeological supervision with a particular focus of uncovering valuable information on building practices and with an eye out for any specific dating material. As improbable as it sounds, I once found a small inscribed wooden plaque under the floor boards of an 18th century house we were conserving in Clonmel that recorded the builder, the owner and the date of construction!

OK it’s a bit hard to make out, but it says something like ”James Bray, carpenter . . . built this house . . . for Mr. John – – – ? 1794”

This is what would be done in any civilized city.


example of full basement excavation and survey of almost a complete city block in Stralsund.

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