Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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Just a correction on the Bachelor’s Walk three [the 3 twins at nos. 5, 6 and 7]. Aerial views I posted earlier showed the middle house without the central cross-roof element that the the other two houses had and it was speculated that this would have removed the need for a central rain water outlet on the front facade if, as I believe, these houses were originally twin gabled to the front.

A slightly earlier aerial view shows that no. 6 originally had exactly the same roof profile as the other two and the cross section was simply removed [as recently as the late 1950s]. This is something we’ll have to bear in mind when considering other twin roofed structures, like 42 Manor Street.

@Devin wrote:

Before this “row” ever started, I had thought these roofs on 2-bay houses were funny, almost whimsical … that you would go to the trouble of creating a double roof with such a short distance to span.

Here’s another, now-demolished one at 27 Bachelors Walk from a 1960s photo, and from Shaw’s Directory, 1850. Very much the same type of thing as 32 Thomas Street and Paddy Whelan: a Georgian building in every way but retaining some features of an earlier period (a probable full-height nib return, and a corner-fireplace plan, as indicated by the appearance of the chimney stack in Shaw’s):

I’ve had another look at 27 Bachelor’s Walk and . . . . Devin’s not going to agree with this, but . . . . this is what I think is going on here.

No. 27 is different in that the front half of the house is a storey taller than the back half. The back half appears to have been a perfectly standard, three storey [with tiny half attic], ‘Billy’ with characteristic return, and steeply pitched cruciform [back half only] roof. Before demolition, the two bay facade appeared to be a ninteenth century re-building so we don’t have an original window arrangement to examine, but the fact that the extra storey [to the front half] was twin roofed suggests to me that the design of the house was altered very early, possibly at the time of construction, to present a more impressive facade to the street, probably incorporating the latest twin-gabled composition emerging elsewhere on Bachelor’s Walk [Nos. 5, 6, 7 and 30 and probably others subsequently lost to the Sackvill Street opening].

If the extra half storey was a Georgian intervention, why would they not have put a very simple, near-pyramidal, roof on it like they did at nos. 27 and 28 South Anne Street.

The 1950s aerial views show this stretch of Bachelors Walk pretty clearly to be the former ‘Billy’ streetscape that we know it was. Nos 23 and 24 [only demolished in the last ten years] shared a chunky central chimney stack, that Shaw also depicted along with cruciform roofs. No. 25 appears to have been a particularly large ‘Billy’ with a standard cruciform roof onto which two small additional dormer-scale roof volumes had been added presumably to gain extra usable floor space on the top storey once the flat parapet had gone in.

We know from Registry of Deeds records that Bachelors Walk, or Jervis Quay, was being developed incrementally from about 1726 and that development in ones, twos and threes was most rapid in the early 1730s, which was arguably the height of the ‘Billy’ movement in Dublin and this is the context in which I think it’s plausable to interpret no. 27 as a hybrid twin-Billy whose owner reacted to the increasing prestige of the location by switching to a more adventurous plan when the house was probably still under construction, or very recently finished.

There is one other house in Dublin, from exactly the same period, which may be a second example of the same thing.

No. 25 Molesworth Street has one of the most baffling roof structures in Dublin, but if you exclude all the bits and pieces that would make more sense if interpreted as alterations, you’re left with a pair of steeply pitched, front-to-back, volumes confined to the front half of the building which appears to have originally been a storey taller than the rear half.

Same date range, same completely ‘Billy’ streetscape context . . . . could be a little sub-group 🙂

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