Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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@Devin wrote:

‘Transitional’ is the best term for these houses – though I don’t like that term much myself as it implies a lack of inherent validity, or of simply moving from one perfect moment to another, which is not the case. But it can be used here to convey buildings which are basically Georgian in style but still utilising earlier construction features.

‘Transitional’ is the right term for houses that attempted to appear, more-or-less, Georgian, but which included in their design and construction significant elements of the previous gabled-house tradition. I think it is appropriate that the term implies an element of artisan head-stratching as builders grappled with the challenges of adapting modern taste to the long established building tradition that they would have been schooled in and comfortable with.

We cannot however use the definition ‘Transitional’ for houses that have been altered to appear more Georgian, that would lead to a misreading of the record, and it would lead to a roll-call of ‘Transitional’ house that would out number the gabled houses that they are presumed to represent a transition from, which would be illogical.

We know that the majority of ‘Billys’ were subsequently altered, we can see that in every photograph where Billys are identifyable. If the pattern of alteration of the houses with the twin roofs matches the pattern of alteration of standard, single gabled, Billys, [which it does] and these houses are located in known Billy streetscapes [which they are], it seems pretty reasonable to me to conclude that these house are likely to have originally been twin gabled.

These are two glimpses of another section of Arran Quay, a bit further to the west.

a circa 1820 view possibly by Petrie. A group of the houses towards the Queen Street junction are shown with their original curvilinear gables.

Shaw again [1850]. In the thirty year interval the gabled houses have all been altered and given flat parapets. The point is that there would have been a period, early in the 18th century, when the virtually the entire streetscape would have appeared in it’s original form – totally gabled – and that’s the context in which we should examine the evidence for the probable original gabled form of no. 17.

@Devin wrote:

Not at all the case. They were small, light, and probably relatively untroublesome roofs, sitting on top of heavy Georgian walls. I can see how they they were popular for a while. The central valley has three resting points, on the front wall, spine wall and rear wall. It’s no surprise a couple still survive today.

OK, if you’re happy to believe that, that’s your business.

@Devin wrote:

That’s a rather arrogant assumption. Conservationists, urban historians and others have known the early Georgian [and pre-Georgian] house type for decades now and its characteristics and the many clues to its age.

There’s been no comprehensive study of this period at all, that’s the problem. The Corpo have been making noises about undertaking a study, but I certainly haven’t seen any concrete commitment. IMO, It would be relatively easy to categorise all the various house types in the gabled tradition and pin them up on a chart. This could end a lot of these disputes [maybe], but it would take access for inspection and a lot of detailed survey work.

Personally, I think the cultural payback would be massive.

@Devin wrote:

I also note that, like 32 Thomas Street, the Paddy Whelan twin roof building does not appear on Rocque in its current format, indicating that it also belongs to the post-1756 drawer.

It’s been pointed out again and again that we just can’t rely on Rocque for that level of detail, and certainly not in the more crowded built-up areas like Thomas Street. If we get a fairly direct correlation between known structures and their representation on Rocque in a location where it’s reasonable to suppose that access was available to rear views etc. then it can be reasonable to draw dating inference from their appearance on the map.

@Devin wrote:

I know that those roofs have nothing to do with twin gable fronts. I would bet my life on it.


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