Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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Anonymous
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Ha, what a gem! Nice round-up there. Great to see the before and after comparison – really puts things in perspective. Those lunettes are startlingly large. I wonder if they were enlarged during the attic modification?

Back on Thomas Street, the pair of nondescript rendered houses immediately to the right of the corner building at the junction with Meath Street are almost certainly of an early date.

Seen here just after the Victorian corner building. The high windows indicate just how grand these houses once were with their steps and probable railed frontages to the street.

However both structures do not appear to be Billies as I had long hoped, but rather a pair of transitional style houses of c. 1745-55.

This somewhat revealing photograph taken in the 1960s shows the rears of the houses as being clearly different from each other in terms of fenestration, roof profile and even building depth. There are also no paired closet returns, while the left-hand house seen below appears to consume the central chimneystack all for itself. Traversing cruciform roof forms are clearly apparent.

To this day, the easternmost house still has a lower roof profile (in spite of roof surfaces being renewed in concrete tile).

The remarkable scale of the westernmost house’s quaint roof is quite the spectacle on the streetscape.

The sophistication of the Wide Streets Commissioners block of the 1820s makes for an interesting comparison.

A rear view showing the singular surviving original slate finish to the hip. The sash windows here date from the late 19th century alterations to the front.

The question to be asked of course is what survives to the interiors of the upper floors of these houses. Certainly the lower floors have been completely gutted, carried out for the amalgamation of the properties into The Carpet Mills in the 1970s – now proudly playing host to officially the most hideous shop frontage in the capital.

Also of note is the curious fragment of a facade to the west of the houses as seen below, with a pair of small, slender windows stranded high above the street. Unfortunately, even by the 1960s this building was largely gutted, so we need to go back earlier to get clues as to its origin.

A little further down the street, and as suggested by gunter before, the famous corner building next door to St. Catherine’s Church is indeed of early origin.

For once the vandals give us a helping hand. A smashed window affords us the opportunity to glimpse inside with a zooms lens to first floor level, revealing a corner chimneystack (as suggested by the central stack at roof level) decorated with handsome Victorian egg-and-dart and scrolled cornicing.

A typically fussy centre rose completed the once new look.

Clearly this huge work was a remodeling of some ambition, more than likely carried out c. 1885-1895, involving the retention of elements of the former early Georgian house on the site. It is a pleasant thought that the ghost, the skeleton of the matching house of the surviving russet-toned, cruciform-roofed house to the left at No. 30 remains embedded in No. 29. I’ve a hunch that only the chimneystack, spine wall and possibly the rear wall survive, but there could be more.

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