Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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This is nos. 52 and 53 Dawson Street.

Dawson Street, as we know, was laid out for development by Joshua Dawson in 1705, or thereabouts, but although the venture was a success from the start, it took nearly twenty years for several of the plots to be developed.

One plot that seems to have taken a while to develop was this one outlined in red on Rocque’s map of 1756, containing 44 foot to Dawson St. and 114 foot to Duke Street. In June 1725, Charles McEvers, carpenter, mortgaged the property to a John Darragh, silk dyer, for two sums amounting to 110 pounds ‘together with the two new houses thereon’.

The corner house [no. 52], already let by McEvers to Robert Nixon, shoemaker, and afterwards sub-let by Nixon to John Thompson, whip maker, in December 1729, was demolished in the 1950s and replaced by the present brick and concrete structure with the roundy corner.

No. 53, however, substantially survives behind a stuccoed 19th century façade.

From the rear we can see that the roof pitch has been lowered [or the wall plates raised], but otherwise the characteristic Billy elements; single large composite chimney, closet return with corresponding signature step-in in the plane of the rear gable wall, and particularly fine flush-framed and slightly arched window, are all there.

On the Duke Street frontage of this block, two houses with substantial Billy fabric survive at ‘The Duke’ [nos. 8 + 9]

These two were never quite the pair that they appear on Rocque. No. 8 appears to have been developed by Robert Arthur, who had held the adjoining, double house, plot on Dawson Street since 1709 and the appended Duke Street plot was certainly developed prior to 1722 when this house on the corner of the Stable Lane was in the occupation of a Mr. Painter.

Again the main Billy elements are in evidence, despite a nineteenth century make-over that has added at least one additional storey to the house accentuating the contrast between this and its little three storey neighbour at no. 9.

No. 9 Duke Street retains almost dolls-house proportions and while the upper façade has clearly been rebuilt, the original cruciform roof appears to survive substantially intact.

the roof of no. 9 from the front

the roof of no. 9 from the rear

Probably using the funds raised by the Darragh mortgage of the two prestigious, four storey, houses on Dawson Street, McEvers developed the remainder of the property constructing four modest houses on the Duke Street frontage between 1725 and 1729. These latter houses were leased by McEvers at an annual rent of between 11 and 16 pounds in a property market suddenly stalled by a combination of over-supply and a series of country wide crop failures. With the balance of advantage shifting to the buyer, William Perry, who leased one of these modest new houses [probably no. 9] from McEvers in Jan 1728, had the temerity to insist in the lease that McEvers ‘put a door to the front cellar of the said house, with a lock and key, and put the pump belonging to the said house in order, as also to clear the said house from all taxes and other encumbrances whatsoever . . . ’

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