Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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Anyone who attended Peter Walsh’s superb lecture on the subject of ‘Dutch Billy and the lost gabled tradition’ in the Gilbert on Wednesday evening will have noted that these two houses at nos. 5 and 6 Benburb Street had been identified as altered Billys as far back as 1973.

It could be argued that the replacement roof structures gave these houses a later appearance, but the evidence for the original cruciform roof profile was there in the fabric, if the characteristic plan form, stair detail, and shared corner chimney stack weren’t in themselves enough to trigger the identification.

A high level view from the rear taken immediately after the fire. Under the satelite dish on the adjoining roof to the left [between the later yellow brick gables of the new roof on no. 4] you can just make out an area of roughly finished red brick and stone corresponding to the central gable that would have originally completed the party wall separation between the cruciform roofs of nos. 4 and 5.

another view with the outline of the internal gable outlined in red . . . and in more detail below

Why would you go to the trouble of replacing the entire roof structure?

In all probability the roofs of these two Benburb Street houses probably looked a lot like this surviving cruciform roof at no. 92 Camden Street, with tiny slates patched and repaired repeatedly over the course of nearly two hundred years before someone decided [probably around 1900] to strip the lot and replace them with a pair of simpler roofs.

A drastic decision certainly, but not quite as drastic as the decision taken last week to deal with the fire damage by knocking the two houses down.

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