Revamp for Ha’penny bridge

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    • #704831

      Revamp for Ha’penny bridge
      June 30 2000 : The Irish Independent
      Dublin’s famous Ha’penny Bridge is to have all its railings and deck scrapped to be replaced by modern replicas because of serious public safety problems. The bridge’s ‘toll booth’ areas are to be removed to make way for more pedestrian room for safety reasons. This has caused An Taisce has hit out at the plan as the bridge is a List 1 structure and as such is fully protected. An Taisce has said that it did not accept the removal and destruction of the original railings and their replacement with a replica.

      now dont get me wrong, but if you replace

      a) the railings

      b) the decking

      of a bridge, what have you left?

      As regards the safety of pedestrians waiting the cross the wuays, surely a traffic island would be the answer, but as a traffic calming measure and somewhere to stand…..

    • #714559

      I sort of agree – however, remember the Glass House in the Botanic Gardens – the OPW replaced all metal parts of that structure to great acclaim. Is it still the same building or not?

      Whatever happens they need to preserve the look and charachter of the bridge – including the toll both areas – wonder what they looked like originally?

    • #714560
      Paul Clerkin

      I would argue that its not the same building… in the same way that Commercial Buildings at the Central Bank Plaza is not the same building that was there 30 years ago, neither is the glasshouse at Glasnevin…..

    • #714561

      You could look at it in the sense of Japanese palaces or temples which are completely rebuilt every 30 years or something like that. The Japaneses look at it as a renewal.

    • #714562
      john white

      A bit like the way your bodies have been totally replaced every 12 years cell by cell – but you’re still you?

      IF the elements are un-sound, falling to pieces then replace them [not with modern crap though..] but to remove the toll booths? Are they serious? Who CARES about congestion? I don’t give a “^%£! Close the the bridge – keep it as a non-functioning object of beauty and history – do that before replacing it.

      I could never understand why certain decorative elements disappeared from the original Eiffel Tower – those lovely half wheel/fanlight-esque arches that ran around the second level. Very Jules Verne. Surely if crumbling they could have been faithfully replaced?


    • #714563

      If, as it is said, The bridge is a List 1 structure, then it is a scandal that there are plans to alter it AT ALL.

      The conservation work that took place at the Botanic Garden’s Curvlinear Range re-used the same iron. They just stripped the rust and reconditioned it.

      If that’s what they’re planning for the Hapenny Bridge, then fine. Its long overdue. Anything more than that (and maybe the removal of the horrible tarmac surface) and there should be public lynchings of those responsible for whatever outrageous renovations carried out.

    • #714564
      eamonn mc loughlin

      This is a case of having to be cruel to be kind. Replacing the original iron work (which was cast in 1816 in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire)might be necessary, but I hope an exact replica of excellent quality is planned. William Walsh operated a ferry service across this section of the Liffey, and he commissioned the bridge in 1815. Originally named the Wellington Bridge (after the Duke), it was also known as the Metal Bridge and the Liffey bridge. I believe it will be closed for three months, which is a pity because it is loved by Dubliners as much as by tourists.

    • #714565

      Tom F is quite right, really the ironwork should be repaired with minimal cutting out of the existing fabric, as for the removal of the toll booths these shaould remain as the are an integral part of the bridges identity (hence the “Ha’penny Bridge” moniker) also its worth noting that when the Glass Houses at Botanic Gardens were being restored the OPW took great pains to source matching original castings of decorativve iromwork, which was eventually provided by Kew gardens in London and had been coincidentally available as a result of an over zealous stripping out and repair of glass houses there.

    • #714566

      Who is the conservation architect for the project?
      Has a conservation report been prepared and is it on the public record?
      Has the overall proposal been made available for public inspection/comment?
      Has the Heritage Council approved of the Corporation’s plans?
      If not, will the Heritage Council consider using its power to ‘call in’ the project (it can do it because the bridge is listed and in public ownership) for review?

    • #714567
      Paul Clerkin

      Anybody from the DCA branch of An Taisce monitoring this? wanna comment? or drop me an email at

    • #714568

      The three areas of alteration proposed are:

      1. To replace the railings with “modern replicas” as worded in the Indo. The word modern here may have been a poor choice as it could be misinterpreted, but replica however has only one meaning. These railings are in very poor condition and have been very badly repaired in various places where the original railings have corroded away completely. Perhaps only sections, where necessary, need be replaced. Will the height of the new railings be increased, where required, to comply with regulations? Hopefully not.

      2. To replace the deck. Is it proposed to replace this with a replica of the miserable attempt that’s there now or a replica of the original? I believe the original had boarding with gaps between revealing the river below. This in itself might reduce congestion.

      3. To remove the tollbooth areas. This would certainly widen the bridge where needed but at a cost. Were there actual booths in these areas and could these, if worthy, be replicated and possibly put to some use for tourist info. or such like. It would make a huge difference to the congestion if the sequencing of the lights at the pedestrian crossings were altered to allow people to move onto the bridge and continue off the far side, rather than the bridge filling up before the lights change. But then pedestrian crossings in Dublin don’t get me started.

      To sum up this is one of the best landmarks in Dublin, it is a tourist attraction and a structure which is close to the hearts of those who live in and visit Dublin. I firmly believe that if it had been maintained properly and regularly in even the recent past, instead of waiting for pieces to fall off, this discussion would not be happening.

      Repair and maintain rather than revamp is still an option.

    • #714569

      I remember as a child crossing the bridge over the Liffey and being able to view the river below from between the gaps in the timber decking which was quite slippy too on wet/frosty days. This was covered up with the asphalt surface in the late 70’s/ early 80’s. God only knows what condition the decking is in now hidden beneath the tar.
      But it would be good to see the bridge fully restored with the timber surface, metal struts, toll booths, etc……….it deserves such good attention.

    • #714570
      Hugh Pearman

      The use of timber for bridge decks – particularly bridges with gradients – has been virtually forbidden over here in Albion since a spate of high-profile new pedestrian bridges proved to be just as slippy as KevMac recalls.

      Norman Foster’s infamous Millennium Bridge, for instance, was originally going to be timber-decked, but had to go to ridged aluminium decking instead, which blinds you with sun reflections.

      But some architects here now propose a solution to slippy-timber misery: instead of grooving the slats lengthwise as is the norm (which collects water, algae, etc), why not groove them across the grain? It seems nobody had thought of this. Mind you, nobody knows if it will work, either.

    • #714571

      The timber boards on the Ha’penny Bridge ran lengthways, in line with the span of the bridge. There were small, continuous gaps between the edges of the boards. The surface of the boards was smooth. Raised, anti-slip, brass straps ran across the surface of the boards, as if binding them together. The intervals between these straps were not regular, but seemed to accelerate towards the point of greatest inclination.

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