Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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It must be over a year and a half since we first discussed these houses at 20 & 21 Thomas Street and in the intervening period their condition has deteriorated further with no evidence that anyone is taking their plight seriously.

No. 20 (in the middle) is a classic ‘Billy’ constructed in standard flaming red brick, with massive corner fireplaces retained on the lower floors. It’s lost it’s original cruciform roof and rear return, but the evidence for both is clearly visible in the brickwork of the party wall to no. 19 (on the right). I doubt if this house is later than about 1720.

No. 21 (on the left) is also a gabled house and is older than no. 20 by perhaps ten or fifteen years. The front wall of this house has been rebuilt and the exact arrangement of the original windows and gable is currently uncertain, pending the discovery of an early photograph. The rear elevation and characteristic gabled return is intact with the only major modification being the lowering of the pitch of the main roof at some time in the past.

The windows of both houses have been left wide open for months and the sound of dripping water can be heard coming from no. 21.

Both houses have full basements and both retain perhaps 80% of their original fabric, including their all important staircases, as far as we know.

This is a grainy copy of a 1980s photograph of the staircase in no. 20 with it’s characteristic early 18th century ‘barley-suger’ banisters.

These house were originally acquired by the state as part of the Digital Hub enterprise before being sold by tender about four or five years ago. The lack of any recent planning activity on the site raises the suspicion that the developer who bought the site may never in fact have completed the purchase and therefore these properties may still be in state ownership. Either way, it is completely unacceptable that these two important, approx. 300 year old houses, sandwiched as they are between later houses that have been given the benefit of ‘Protected Structure’ status, are being allowed to quietly rot away on one of the most prominent streets of the city.

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