Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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The imminent Bord Planeála decision on the Frawley’s site (Reg. no. 3202/08) is so critical fpr so many reasons, that getting it wrong is just not an option.

The future of Thomas Street as a legible historic street, our ability to recognise and care for our built heritage, our ability to see the architectural heritage of this city as an asset, not a liability, the whole credibility of the planning process, they all hinge on Bord Pleanála sinking this proposal with a withering broadside. There’s no room for wishy-washy compromise here.

But leaving all the big issues aside, just for the moment, if you take the case of no. 32 Thomas Street, in isolation, how could the planning dept. have been so stupid as to permit demolition.

This is a former twin ‘Billy’, there just can’t be any doubt about that. These people didn’t drag heavy beams up four storeys for fun, roof configurations like this just aren’t open to two interpretations. This house is very substantially complete and it’s alterations are legible and have their own value, we need to get our act together and protect houses like this.

Gabled houses might have been ubiquitous across much of northern Europe in the 18th century, but you’ll have a hard job finding twin-gabled houses anywhere but here. The twin-Billy was a Dublin speciality, possibly a Dublin invention, they popped up in the gabled streetscapes throughout the city, on grand houses, like 41 Stephen’s Green and on minute town houses like 25 James St.

These houses should be cherished as an architectural symbol of the city. conserved (mostly in their altered ‘Georgian’ condition) and fixed with information panels illustrating their significance, not demolished and lost forever from our building record.

This is another probable twin-Billy that I hadn’t spotted until Morlan posted an 80s aerial shot of Hawkin’s House.

Mulligan’s, 8 Poolbeg Street.

The twin roof has been slightly altered, with the eastern most volume twimmed back creating a wider valley gutter, corresponding to the dimensions of the return, but with the western volume still lining up with a centrally located front to back beam. The top floor windows have a high arched head which wouldn’t be original, but it’s probable that the original arrangement may still have been three windows, (like 25 James St.and 42 Manor St.), but it could also have reduced to two, reflecting the original twin gables above.

Can we be sure it was a gabled house?

Yes I think would be the answer. The whole block is shown fully developed on Rocque (1756), it has a single massive corner chimney stack, characteristic return, characteristic window opes, no evidence of transitional features, not really much room for doubt!

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