Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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One would wonder regarding the High Street house if an original single gable, with downpipes either side, was later complemented with a third central branch upon a Georgian remodelling of the roof into a double pitch. The middle pipework does look distinctly arbitrary and later in character. But then again, so too does that of the neighbouring pair of houses to the right, which were clearly always single-gabled. So no real insight derived from that theory. It’s odd the central pipe is depicted higher than the others.

Personally, I’m sitting comfortably on this fence for the moment, but if I had to fall into a pen, it would be the double Billy pit. I think what we have to draw into the debate about the make-up of the alleged double Billy (to keep neutral on this), is the stylistic origin of the format as influenced by the occupants. It is an obvious conclusion to draw that a double Billy would be a high status house, even in spite of a modest width, being built at a time when scale does not appear to have been as important in domestic design as it was in the later 18th century. Comfortable, well-appointed interiors probably took precedence at this early stage.

I would suggest that to have a double gable at roof level was not only a marker of social status in terms of streetscape impact, but critically it also served to elevate one’s home above that of the lower classes, and in particular of the artisans and craftworkers, who, however more modest in scale, essentially owned the same style of house. To possess a four-storey townhouse with a full height floor on every level, without the artisan-tainted characteristic of a compromised workplace attic storey, and a double gabled roofscape to boot, would surely have been desirable for the upper classes of the early 18th century. It is to all intents and purposes the precursor to the modern Georgian townhouse, just with a mild Billy flourish stuck on top for good measure. It could perhaps be termed an early transitional house. In that context, I do not think it unreasonable that these houses existed, and existed on a fairly widespread scale. It is possible that their relative scarcity compared with standard Billys and the lack of modern-day knowledge about them, stems from their transitional provenance and/or that they were the first and easiest houses to Georgianise as soon as it became worthwhile to do so. This would all help explain the floating character of these double-pile roofs.

The Nassau Street terrace is an interesting example Devin, but the shallowness of the horizontal plot it occupies clearly made it worthwhile to install short beams from front to back when these buildings were built in the early 19th century.

Just on the Chamber Street house (words defy what has happened so there’s no point scrambling for them), it is notable that in spite of every relevant department in DCC knowing about the provenance and importance of this house for well over a year, absolutely no attempt has been made to make this building a Protected Structure. Not only were provisions of the National Monuments Act not called into play in respect of such an ancient structure, but not even bog standard Protected Structure procedure, as has been applied to everything from legoland Victorian suburbia to sets of feckin gate piers in the interim, has been enacted. It is a scandal of the highest order and a shocking indictment of how protection is afforded to the built heritage of Dublin city.

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