Re: Re: ‘Dutch Billys’

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It was said earlier is this thread that the ‘Dutch Billy’ developed into a full blown building tradition with a highly developed range of typologies developed to address particular site conditions.

A particular favourite appears to have been the tappered corner site. Unlike their Georgian successors, who were often clueless when faced with anything other than a square site, Dublin’s ‘Dutch Billy’ builders absolutely revelled in angled corners.

We can only speculate about the treatment of many of the angled corners that appear in Rocque’s map, but one or two examples survived long enough to be photographed and these few examples hint at the depth and ingenuity of the tradition.

Probably the best example to study is the junction of New Row South, Ward’s Hill, Mill Street and Blackpits, in the Liberties. Three of the four corners here produced angled building plots that appear to have been developed simultaneously and with real synergy and must have appeared in the 1720s as a genuine urban declaration of intent. We have scant information on the two western corners, but a series of early photograps record glimpses of the original appearance and, subsequently, the sad decline of the two brilliant structures, (each a pair of houses), on the two eastern corners. [Red X = site of current proposed development] [Blue X = corner developed by Zoe, in the 90s]

The New Row corner with Blackpits is now going forward for redevelopment (site notice posted last week) after being in a development hiatus since the pair of houses, known locally as the ‘7 Gables’, was substantially demolished in 1903.

I will post up below some of the sequence of photographs that illustrates these two eastern corners together with a drawing of what I believe was the original appearance of the ‘7 Gables’ corner.

This vista up New Row towards St. Patricks Cathedral, records a terrace of ‘Billys’ and the corner with Ward’s Hill, on the left. On the right is a former distillery building, known as ‘the Laundry building’ in the 20th century, and a Protected Structure, which it is proposed to refurbish and convert to office use. In the right foreground is what then remained of ‘7 Gables’ with original 18 pane flush sash windows still evident on the first floor.

This older photograph shows the same Ward’s Hill corner on the left, but this time with the elegant curvininear gables still intact, if only just. The New Row facade is four bay and is capped by a Siamese twin gable arrangement reflecting the fact that the tappered site has been resolved by the ingeneous device of splicing the primary roof structure into two, with the junction probable covered by a central common chimney stack.

The little axonometric drawing of the Ward’s Hill corner, I did a long time ago and I think I need to review some aspects of it.

The least that we should look for, if this development is to be granted planning permission, is a thorough archaeological investigation of the corner site to record and recover the exact original floor plans of the houses and any other information that a dig might reveal. We know so little about these ‘Dutch Billy’ houses and especially the complex corner houses, that it would be unforgivable if this corner was to follow the Zoe corner under concrete without every last original detail being recorded and published.

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