The end of the line

This is the final post for the foreseeable future. Thank you to the many subscribers and visitors to the blog. I leave for now with a note on Heuston Station.

The King's Bridge by George Petrie (1832). Crawford Gallery, Cork (link to source)

The King’s Bridge, Dublin (West View) by George Petrie (1832). (Crawford Art Gallery, Cork. Click on image to go to source)

Although the establishment of a Commission for the development of a railway network in Ireland in 1836 was motivated by military needs, the subsequent lines built saw the end of canal passenger transport in 1852 and crushed the long distance coach business. With the establishment of The Great Southern and Western Railway Company in 1844, there was a need for a site to act as a terminus for all lines from the south and west parts of the country converging in Dublin. The site at Heuston, selected by Sir John MacNeill, was attractive given that it approached the centre of the city; a contemporary pamphlet advocating this site remarked that the Liffey “divides [the city] into two nearly parts. The terminus at King’s Bridge, will therefore be on the centre line of the city.” It was also convenient to the Royal (now Collins) Barracks, and thus allowed for easy deployment of troops by rail.

Heuston Station (thanks to B)

Heuston Station (thanks to B)

The first sod was cut in a field near King’s Bridge (named after George IV in 1828) in January 1845 in a ceremony attended by among others, the Duke of Leinster. According the the Irish Railway Gazette report that month: 

His Grace, amid the loud cheers of the assembled crowd, took off his coat and in his shirtsleeves, with the skill and goodwill of an able workman dug up six sods which he threw into a wheel-barrow, and rolled off to some distance. The bonhomie the Duke of Leinster displayed elicited the utmost enthusiasm, and a country fellow turning to one of his companions said with the utmost glee, that he would now die happy, as he had seen a duke work like any common man.

The ceremony was concluded with a very elegant dejuner.  

Kingsbridge Station, by Sancton Wood (1848)

Kingsbridge Station, by Sancton Wood (1848). Reproduced in Craig.

The station terminus itself was designed by Sancton Wood and built by Cockburn and Williams of 179 Great Brunswick St (now Pearse St) using native stone. Completed in 1848, it was Dublin’s third railway terminus, following Westland Row (1834) and Amiens Street (1844). It is a substantial building, 107 feet wide, with wings projecting 53 feet each. Two panels on the front, “VIII VIC” and “1844” indicate the Act of Parliament under which the railway company operated. Between these are the three coats of arms of the cities served by the railway: Dublin, Cork, and Limerick. Descriptions of the architectural significance of the building abound, but I like Craig’s best:

…a delightful building, a renaissance palazzo, gay and full-blooded, with fruity swags and little domed towers on the wings, a thoroughgoing formal composition, excellently articulated. It is the fashion nowadays to sniff slightly because it is not as good as Broadstone: but by these standards few buildings would escape whipping.

In what sounds like a familiar tale, after the terminus of the Dublin and Wicklow Railway was built at Harcourt St in 1859, there was a desire to link up the termini at Kingsbridge, Westland Row, and Harcourt St. In 1867, the City of Dublin Tramways Co. was empowered to develop such a link. The proposed track was to run from Kingsbridge along the South Quays to Westland Row, and on to Earlsfort Terrace. Although work began on Aston Quay, it was quickly abandoned after a row caused by track being used, which left a depression in the roadway between the rails.

Map of Dublin (1847) showing the (unfinished) station terminus at Kingsbridge.

Map of Dublin (1847) showing the (unfinished) station terminus at Kingsbridge. (From Cullen, 2015)

The first trip from the station was made in August 1846—they didn’t hang about in those days. A train left Dublin for Carlow at 9 am with carriages of all classes densely crowded with passengers. A trial run had been made the day before to the Curragh, with among others Sir John MacNeil, the man responsible for the enormous railway sheds at the rear of the building terminus, Peter La Touche, Mr Brooke (Governor of the Bank of Ireland), and the Chairmen of both the Paris and Rouen Railway and the Orleans Railway. A dejuner was again served at the Curragh; railway travel clearly being an activity that requires food. Although Independence brought a name change for King’s Bridge, to Sarsfield Bridge in 1923 and Seán Heuston Bridge in 1941, Heuston Station had to wait until 1966 to follow the name of the bridge. A tram now links the station to Amiens St (Connolly) and the missing link to Harcourt St is imminent. All change!   If you’d like to follow my street adventures in a new city, keep an eye out for my new blog later in the summer. In the mean time, enjoy this great song from Boy and Bear: End of the Line.  

Plaques for Sancton Wood and John MacNeill are at the entrance to Heuston Station

Plaques for Sancton Wood and John MacNeill are at the entrance to Heuston Station

Notes

  • Cullen (2015) also shows Petrie’s East View of King’s Bridge, which shows the Royal Barracks in the background.
  • Maurice Craig (1952, reprinted 2006) Dublin 1660-1860: The Shaping of a City, Liberties Press (Dublin).
  • Frank Cullen (2015) Dublin 1847: City of the Ordnance Survey, RIA (Dublin).
  • William J Jacob (1944) Kingsbridge Terminus, Dublin Historical Record, 6(3), 107-120.
  • Francis J Murphy (1979) Dublin Trams 1872-1959, Dublin Historical Record, 33(1), 2-9.
  • Michael J Tutty (1981) Bridges over the Liffey, Dublin Historical Record, 35(1), 23-33.
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Temperance on Townsend St

Terence Dooley mentions in passing in his wonderful new book that an announcement was placed in The Freeman’s Journal in May 1877 advertising an excursion from The Coffee Palace on Townsend St to the home of the Dukes of Leinster at Carton, Co. Kildare (Dooley, 2014).

The Coffee Palace was run by the Dublin Total Abstinence Society. The Society’s Honorary Secretary was Thomas William Fair, who returned to Dublin in 1869, having spent time in Australia (where Coffee Palaces would also become popular). According to records of the Temperance Movement, Fair devoted his spare time to abstinence, or at least the promotion of abstinence, and was the founder of several ‘coffee booths’ throughout the city. After raising money through public subscription, the Coffee Palace was built on Townsend St. This building was large, and included a “temperance hall with room for 500 people.”

Townsend St was not the first such building.The Irish Times reported meetings of people interested in “Improvement of the Working Class” as early as 1862, listing those who had provided money towards Coffee Palaces. By 1864, a “Coffee Palace and Temperance Refreshment Rooms” were being advertised at 2 Marlborough St. Benjamin Benson, the proprietor, opened from 7 am to 10 pm, and hot joints were served from 12 – 5 pm.

By 1875, moves were well underway to establish the Townsend St premises, perhaps prompted by the return of Fair to Dublin. A tender was placed in The Irish Builder to complete the building, designed by Frederick Morley. One of many fundraising Bazaars was held by the Lady Mayoress in May that year to “further the completion of the Temperance Coffee Palace at 6 Townsend St.” Innocent amusement and intellectual recreation were promised. By September, The Irish Times carried an advertisement signed by our man Thomas William Fair to declare that the Coffee Palace was open on and after Saturday 18th September 1875. Hundreds of events at the Palace were listed, and it was evidently very active in the late nineteenth century. The twentieth century was not so kind, and by November 1915, The Irish Times reported from the Court of Chancery that the Coffee Palace was to be wound up. The Society was unable to pay its debts, “owing to a change in times.”

The building was later demolished along with the destruction of Theatre Royal on Hawkins St, and the New Metropole Cinema, now the Screen Cinema, eventually took its place.

Notes
Terence Dooley (2014) The Decline and Fall of the Dukes of Leinster 1872-1948, Dublin.

A Long Lane

Long Lane was longer

Long Lane was longer

While it doesn’t make (as) much sense now, Long Lane was a very appropriate name for the street that ran from New Street/Clanbrassil St to Wexford St. Its length was originally 500 metres, but this was bisected by Bride St/Heytsbury St when that street was laid out in 1846.

Long Lane exists on Rocque’s map of 1760 and the plan of the city in 1797. This area was the Earl of Meath’s Liberty, and the most significant building on the street was the Meath Hospital. This was built on the south side of Long Lane in 1821, moving from its earlier location in The Coombe (the portico of the original building still stands in The Coombe). The hospital was built on what Rocque’s map calls “Naboth’s Vineyards”, which had been bought by Dean Swift in 1722 (it was also called Dean’s Vineyards). Writing in 2008, Walsh states that the wall between the hospital and Long Lane includes sections built by Dean Swift.

meath hospital

The site was purchased from him after a donation of £6000 from Thomas Pleasants, whose money went to build the new hospital. He did not live to see the hospital opened. Money had been sought from the Duke of Leinster and Lord Powerscourt, but in the end Pleasants was the main benefactor. He was rewarded with a street in his own name nearby.

The northern side of Long Lane had on the early maps a Cabbage Garden marked on an area of about two acres. This included the site of the current DIT building on Kevin St., and my own office. Strangely, the recording of brassicas at this site continued onto the early Ordnance Survey map, which seems rather quaint. After its bisection by Bride St., the eastern end of Long Lane initially retained its original name. Buildings here included St Sepulchre’s Marshalsea, now the site of a modern apartment complex, and of course St Kevin’s Church, now a ruin. However, by the end of the century, the eastern end of the lane had been renamed Camden Row. The cabbage gardens were also gone by this stage; replaced by saw mills. The Earl of Meath’s legacy is still visible in a row of houses on the remaining section of Long Lane known as Meathville Terrace.

Notes:

  • Peter Gatenby (2005) The Meath Hospital, Dublin, Dublin Historical Record, 58(2), 122-128.
  • David Mitchell (1989) A Medical Corner of Dublin (1711 to 1889), Dublin Historical Record, 42(8), 86-93.
  • Dave Walsh, The Ghosts of Archbishop Marsh, Swift and Stella, Dublin Historical Record, 61(2), 194-196.