Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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Anonymous
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Great photographs of the Dorset Street houses Graham, good to know no. 40 was recorded before it was butchered.

Still on the northside, I did a bit of delving into that famous drawing by Leask of the twin Billy at 30 Jervis Street. It would seem clear that, though largely intact when surveyed in the 1880s, some erosion of detail can be infered on the gable profiles and the pediments. A house of this status would have been finished with a bit of a flourish, one imagines, especially when they had gone to so much trouble in the composition of the facade.


The Leask drawing and a contemporary view of that section of Jervis Street today.

It turns out that there is a grainy photograph from the RSAI collection, published in ‘Darkest Dublin’ that shows the section of Jervis Street with the partially demolished remains of no. 30 still standing.

Enough of the house is shown in the photograph, together with the information from the Leask drawing, to attempt to sketch a reconstruction of the streetscape, showing this twin Billy in context.

In context, no. 30 doesn’t look half as odd as it did in isolation !

No. 31 appears to have been a narrower, probably single gabled, version of no. 30 with the same robust classical doorway and probably the same unusual granite lintols over the windows. I’ve speculated a little bit on the second floor window arrangement given that the first floor appeared to be two bay, but given the substantial scale of the house.

The next three houses, 32,33 &34 are all similar, two bay, houses with a single window in the gable and no. 35 beyond is a classic three bay Billy again with a single window in the gable. Obviously the exact profile of the gables and pediments is open to question, but I’d bet my bottom dollar it won’t have been far off this, and together the six houses would have created a stunning streetscape with their facades slightly turned to the south to reconcile the rectangular plots with the angle of the street.

Whatever ‘refinement’ subsequent Georgian architecture achieved in Dublin, did anything ever come close to matching the inventiveness and vitality of these Billy streetscapes?

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