Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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Back on Usher’s Quay, there was a particularly crisp former Billy at no. 12, which is round about where that filling station with the 2 litres of milk for 99c [splendid establishment and long may it thrive] is now located.

front and rear views of no 12 Usher’s Quay plundered from IAA files

If we put the information on no.12 together with the identical depiction of no. 29 in the Bartlett view of 1832 and the bill-head depiction of no. 32, the picture that emerges of Usher’s Quay is one of a thoroughly coherent gabled streetscape where sober single gable pediments would have been loop-linked with busy twin pediments in what must have originally been a streetscape of lyrical quality.

As an aside, a poignant fact emerged in a trawl of the records relating to no. 32. This was the address given by a private Stephen Byrne of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who enrolled in the British army in January 1916 and who was executed for desertion at Basseux in October 1917 – another strand in our complicated history.

Returning to the building record, the evidence suggests that Billys extended westward onto Usher’s Island too, the final stretch of quay to be developed until the 19th century.

both versions of the Brocas view of 1811, the exaggeratedly decrepit print above and the cleaner line drawing below, depict Billys to the west of Moira House.

The only definitively Georgian House in this stretch is ‘The Dead’ house on the right, several of the others have unconvincing roofs and chucky chimneys that could suggest that their original form may have been consistent with the glimpse of Billy streetscape in the Brocas depiction

aerial view of usher’s Island from the late 1950s, with Moira House [later the right-hand half of the Mendicity Institute] outlined in red.

So if we take Usher’s Island as the western extremity of developed quay frontage and the Billyscape at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay [as partially anticipated by Brooking in 1728 and as partially recorded by Malton seventy years later] as the eastern extremity, are we not looking at a 3km streetscape of pretty remarkable consistency in architectural treatment? although admittedly incorporating a number of short stretches where quay frontage had not yet been made, or where haphazard older building stock survived.

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