Page 1


Background to the Study The Inventory on Historic Pavements and Street furniture was commissioned by Dublin City Council in 2004 and funded by the Heritage Council. The City Council commissioned Dublin Civic Trust to carry out the study. •

Identification of the rock types used in pavements in the city centre was carried out by Dr. Patrick Wyse Jackson of Trinity College Dublin.

Advice on Care and Conservation was provided by Blackwood Associates Architects.

Peter Pearson , Architectural Historian provided valuable advice on historical elements.

The Extent of the Study Area The 1999 Dublin City Development Plan listed under List 5 paved areas and streets with

granite paving flags and kerbing, coal hole covers, traditional pattern man-hole covers and protective bollards to be retained or restored and included in the Corporation’s programme for restoration. The list, as a base line was used by the Trust to identify and record the remaining stock of these elements in situ today. The Approach The study was carried out by architectural historians, Marian Isa Nouri, Catherine Kelly and Stephen Farrell. A steering group was put in place by the Heritage Officer Donnacha O’ Dulaing. Meetings were held to agree methodology of recording the material and to agree the format of the final presentation of the study

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1. It is necessary to generate an awareness within the public domain of the richness of the surviving historic pavements and street furniture in the City and to create an appreciation as to its potential to serve as well as to enhance the lives of all. 2. The man made paving so dominant in Dublin today are not visually desirable and often expensive to replace. Consolidation of the existing stock of antique granite slabs must be a priority. A stock inventory should be undertaken for this purpose. 3. Lots of setts exist buried under tarmac. Due to the robust nature of diorite setts it is possible to rescue them for re-use. It is a free material and therefore sustainable.

4. Specification of good quality materials, such as historic or modern granite must be followed by good workmanship on site. When granite slabs are laid with irregular sized joints and poorly levelled they fracture. They are also a danger to the public.

5. Lorries and delivery trucks show little respect for historic or contempory street surfaces, as witnessed by broken and loose granite kerbing. 6. Resetting of and reinstating of missing setts, as is necessary in Temple Bar, should be done by uplifting the material and setting it aside. The existing setts should then be relayed on a new stable sett base. Utility Companies have to coordinate their work schedules when carrying out work programmes in the same area. 7. In the UK, new legislation compels developers and utility companies to reinstate historic paving materials with prescribed material and to a prescribed standard.

This is to ensure that repairs, replacement and reinstatement meet the original standard. Local Authorities enforce this policy. 8. Historic streetscapes should not be allowed to deteriorate due to a lack of maintenance or the uncontrolled intrusion of new paving materials. 9. Recreate pavement light, as with basement grids and block lights, as an artistic endeavour, the “Borrowed Light” installation. This has been done in other cities to create lighting effects - by illuminating them from underneath. 10. Lamp standards, reproduction or retention of original – Scotch standard or gas style lamps contribute to the overall atmosphere and appearance of the streetscape. 11. Post Office Boxes, although not in the ownership of Dublin City Council must be retained in situ. They need to be cleaned repainted and conserved on a regular basis. 12. Early green enamel Place Names are part of the Dublin character and must be recorded and kept in situ. Due to new developments many streets and roads are no longer identifiable as place names are not reinstated. 13. ‘Hidden Dublin is its lanes’. They exist to a greater extent than is realised, retaining much of their original street elements. They are under threat from the speed of developmental change.

Historic Granite to be Relayed or Replaced Suggested Areas

Area 1 •

Complete the paving of Parnell Square including the area around the Rotunda Hospital and former Ambassador Cinema and to the Gate Theatre, Great Denmark Street, North Great George’s Street and onto Parnell Street.

Area 2 •

O’Connell Bridge.

Area 3 •

College Green, - Foster Place - Dame Street - Cork Hill - Lord Edward Street Christchurch Place.

Area 4 •

Fill gaps in Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Square, St Stephen’s Green.

Individual Streets to be Considered for Historic Paving 1.

Kildare Street,


Molesworth Street,


Dawson Street

Setts for the Market Areas Green Street Area – Markets

Troughs - Vandalised Water Troughs should be reinstated to Patrick’s Close/Parnell Street/St Stephen’s Green and Gate Theatre




The Legacy of Dublin’s Streets Streets are places in their own right, not just a route from one destination to another. Dublin’s historic street furniture makes a major contribution to the character and appearance of its streets and gives a sense of self esteem and confidence to the resident and occupiers of buildings on the street. Dublin since the time of the Wide Street Commissioners, the body who are responsible for laying out the principle streets is noted for the quality of the its granite pavements. Many streets are made up of a mixture of local and imported materials selected for their fitness of purpose and durability. In Dublin a range of natural granite and diorite slabs and setts were commonly used. They are still evident through out the city. Dublin set its paving policy through the Act of 1774, for paving the “streets, quays, bridges, squares, yards, courts and alleys”. This was enacted because such public areas were not properly ”pitched, paved or regulated for the free intercourse of the inhabitants” Dublin City Council in the 1999 Development Plan lists Historic Items of street furniture under list 4 and list 5 as part of their conservation policy to retain in-situ such items rather than have them removed. Policy CA9

Setts off Winetavern Street


Setts on Smithfield




Street Lighting Street lighting combines a twofold service. Firstly it contributes to public safety but also the style and design of lamp standards contribute greatly to the overall appearance of the streetscape. Early antique pillars are beautifully proportioned and elegant in design. They mostly have a rounded fluted base, leaf mouldings and a crossbar to support a ladder for the gaslighter when illuminating the shorter standard, 4.5m in height. They are still to be found on streets in the inner city. When electricity superseded gas the standard increased in height as high as 9m. Between 1920-40 Dublin Corporation reproduced many of the gaslight design standards to a greater height and positioned them on the secondary streets. Historical Background Street lighting first appeared in Dublin in the 17th century under the Candlelight Law of 1616, in the form of torches or flambeaux. In 1697 a contractor by the name of Michael Cole was appointed to place lights on both sides of the thoroughfares eight houses apart and on side streets six houses apart. They burned on oil from six to midnight at the cost of three shillings per year to each householder. An account of London lighting in 1816, which was identical to that in use in Dublin, reads as follows: The lamp consisted of a small tin vessel, half-filled with the worst train oil that the parochial authorities, for the most part the chosen of the select vestries, could purchase at the lowest price to themselves and the highest charge to the ratepayers. In this fluid fish blubber was a piece of cotton twist which formed the wick. A set of greasy fellows were employed to trim and light these lamps, which they accomplished by the apparatus of a formidable pair of scissors, a flaming flambeau of pitched rope, and a rickety ladder, to the annoyance and danger of all passers-by. – J. Richardson, 1856. Derry O Connell, ‘The Antique Pavement’ Gas Lighting Public lighting by Gas appeared in 1825 and this service was in place until 1957. The early gas lamp had a free burning flame in a lantern this was followed in 1887 by the introduction of the gas mantle. Public lighting was confined between the canals with the addition of the townships of Rathmines, Ballsbridge, Glasnevin, and Drumcondra. At the peak of this service the Corporation employed 25 lamplighters to light and quench 3,750 lamps. In 1866 the alliance and Consumer Gas Company was formed through the amalgamation of three existing suppliers to supply gas for public lighting. Electric Lighting Electric streetlights appeared on Dublin streets in 1892 after work commenced on the first lighting scheme in 1890. The Irish daily Independent of 24th June 1892 reported: final preparations for the lighting of the city during the tercentenary of Dublin University are going on apace. The erection of large iron columns, which act as supports, is complete. During the past week, gangs of workmen, heaving cables from one man hole to another, have formed great





attraction to the crowds of passers-by, who wonder at their singular labour. The generating of electricity was not ready for the celebrations, due to the late arrival of generators for the Fleet Street Station. The streets were illuminated by September 1892 and almost all the centre city form O’Connell Street to Grafton Street, going west to Mary Street and Parliament Street were electrified. The eighty lamp standards include 9m. swan-necks imported from Britain.. The opening of the Pigeon House generating station in 1903 extended electric lighting to almost all major streets in the city centre. Rathmines and Pembroke Borough Councils started their ownelectric lighting schemes. The large standards with straight stem-heads and semi-circular overhangs appeared at this stage. Dublin Corporation in the 1940’s and 1950’s commissioned many replicas of the Scotch Standard as part of an infill policy on streets. Today a mix of originals and replicas can be found on Fitzwilliam Square. Now ten’s of thousands of lamps (of different types) light the city. Intermingled are standards of every era from the early gas pillars of 1825. Many replicas of early standards have been repeated in recent times but the older ones are easy to spot, with their heavy ornate decoration.

‘Sugarstick Standard’ 1915


Fitzwilliam Street ‘Scotch Standard’ 1903-20.

Ely Place ‘Standards of Rathmines’ 1900-1920




Cole Hole Covers A great variety of circular coal plates with wonderful patterns are to be found in the Georgian and Victorian streets of the inner city. They are mostly set in a granite slab where a hole was hammered out by hand to the dimension 30cm to 35.5cm in diameter into which was placed the coal plate 12.7cm thick, in a variety of designs. Many of the early covers, cast between 1760-1830 are badly worn but good examples are to be found in Parnell Square and Fitzwilliam Square some having their foundry name. The coal holes were, of course, delivery chutes to the coal cellars, which are situated under the pavements. They were affixed to the cellar wall by means of a chain. This was for the purpose of preventing intruders entering the house through the coalhole.

Ironwork Wrought iron and cast iron are the two forms of iron, which are obtained from iron ore by a process of smelting. Iron ore deposits in Ireland were extracted first on an industrial scale in the Blackwater Valley during the first half of the 17th century. The major catalyst for technological improvements in the production of iron, in both England and Ireland during the 18th century, was the growing need for armaments. The industrial revolution also benefited from these advancements from the second half of the 18th century.

Iron ore is burned, like limestone, in a kiln to remove impurities. Wrought iron is obtained by smelting iron in a furnace to form ‘pig iron’. When the iron forms a cake of thick molten iron, it is removed from the furnace and worked on an anvil with a hammer into bars of wrought iron. This process is repeated by reheating and forging to remove more of the slag impurities. Wrought iron often appears worked into elaborate decorative scrolls by means of manipulating sheets of wrought iron. The use of coke in smelting iron increased the production of cast iron after 1750. Cast iron unlike wrought iron has a high carbon content, which renders it more brittle and prone to shattering on impact. It is obtained by smelting iron in a cupola furnace until it can run off easily into prepared sand moulds. The molten iron, once at the required temperature is poured by two workers operating large ladles. The first process of moulding is done by a pattern-maker who makes a timber model to a required shape, which is pressed into a damp hard sand frame to form a mould. Funnels are created by wooden sprues to allow the mould receive the molten iron. When the cooled cast-iron has been removed from the mould it is usually shot blasted to remove surface blemishes, and primed with zinc oxide to prevent rusting. Iron in use in Dublin The early use of iron in Ireland is evident by iron artefacts uncovered during.Iron smelting increased during the 17th century due to the vast quantities of forestry in the country, which was needed to produce charcoal for smelting. A lively export trade in DUBLIN CIVIC TRUST




Irish ‘pig’ iron with England and Holland existed during the 1620s. The healthy demand for Irish iron was due in part to the war between Spain and England. Another influencing factor was that from the early 17th century England was suffering from a shortage of forestry. A slump in the market occurred when Sweden and Russia began to manufacture iron more cheaply and in larger quantities than either Ireland or England. Most of the iron used in Dublin during the 18th century was imported. The demand for wrought iron increased with the rise in the speculative building developments of the 18th century. Whole terraces of Georgian houses were laid out with basement areas bounded by wrought iron railings. Later in the century wrought iron, and in the 19th century, cast-iron balconies were applied to facades. Wrought iron grilles guarded basement windows and fanlight windows. There was also a notable increase in the number of smiths working in Dublin during the 18th century. During the first half of 18th century the use of cast-iron was limited to small items such as door furniture, cole and man hole covers, fire backs and railing posts. The production of cast-iron developed in 1709 with the use of coke in smelting iron. This was first achieved by Abraham Darby at the English foundry, Coalbrookdale. Technological advancements and mass production made cast-iron a popular building material during the 19th century. In Ireland, cast-iron was used in industrial architecture from the first quarter of the 19th century. By the last quarter of the century cast iron was a significant building material. But by the early 20th century both cast and wrought iron were superseded by steel, the production of which was invented by Sir Henry Bessemer.





Iron Foundries The earliest recorded iron industry in Ireland was established by Richard Boyle, at the beginning of the 17th century, on the banks of the Blackwater River. The first documented worker of wrought iron in the 18th century is Timothy Turner, who produced some of Dublin’s best known examples of wrought ironwork. Timothy’s brother was also a smith. The Turner family were the most influential ironworkers during the 18th and 19th centuries. The first iron bridge, the Halfpenny Bridge, constructed in 1816, spans the Liffey between O’Connell Bridge and the new Millennium Bridge. It was pre fabricated in Shropshire by the Coalbrookdale iron foundry, and transported to Ireland in sections. •

Richard Turner, a descendant of Timothy Turner, is synonymous with 19th century cast-iron work in Ireland. At his Hammersmith Foundry, located in Ballsbridge, he advanced the design of the curvilinear wrought iron and castiron glass house, an example of which is the Palm House at the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin. Turner erected the railings on the College Street and College Green side of Trinity College. He designed the gates closing the entrance to Dublin Castle at Cork Hill.

Charles Geoghegan in 1859 designed the former AIB in Foster Place where cast-iron Corinthian columns support the roof structure.

In 1885 T. N. Deane designed the National Museum, with a double height museum surrounded by a cast-iron gallery. The gallery and roof structure are supported by superimposed cast-iron columns.

The rise in the number of indigenous and foreign companies operating foundries or selling ironwork in Dublin increased dramatically during the 19th century. The famous McLoughlan’s of Pearse Street erected the highly ornamental gates to the Kildare Street entrance to Leinster House. Their gate locks survive all over the city. Messrs. P. Daniel & Sons, Ironmongers and Hardware Merchants formerly of Grafton Street, were among the many to import ironwork goods to the city.





Kennan’s of Fishamble Street produced trading catalogues illustrating the vast range of ironwork they produced. Amongst other things, Kennan’s made farm machinery, railings, iron-framed housing and sanatoria, interior plumbing installations, and domestic wares. Thomas Moffit with an address at 330 Chancery Lane, was a wrought iron and a fire proof safe maker to the Bank of Ireland. The English firm of Hill and Smith, with a branch at 47 Dawson Street, enclosed St. Patrick’s Cathedral park with heavy cast iron railings with spike finials. The Hammond Lane Foundry lit many streets with elaborately decorated lamp standards. Look for the street lamp with a single shamrock on the lamp bracket. The cast-iron coal-hole covers of Tonge and Taggart, along with most of the aforementioned foundries, can be seen under foot on most Dublin Streets. While not operating in Ireland, Glasgow’s Saracen Foundry, established in 1850 by Walter MacFarlane, is well represented in Dublin. The cast-iron work of the foundry to be seen in Dublin, much of which is early 20th century, includes the highly ornate street lamps with triple shamrock embellished the lamp bracket, the porch to the Olympia Theatre, and what remains of drinking fountains in the Coombe and Dun Laoghaire.





Understanding Historic Street Furniture Care and Maintaince

Historic Ground Surfaces Historic paving makes a major contribution to the character and appearance of many streets in Dublin. A long-term programme of repair and replacement should be devised for areas where historic paving is still in place. The Conservation Officer should always be consulted before repairs are carried out, as inappropriate repairs of damage to original material can spoil its special character.

• Protecting Paving Slabs and Kerbstones •

Original paving slabs should be retained wherever possible. Where it is necessary to take up and relay paving, special care must be taken. Though a very hard stone, granite can be brittle and can easily break if stored or stacked incorrectly.

Stone should be laid carefully on an even bed of sand and tapped down to ensure continuous even support and absence of air-pockets.

Where vehicular traffic is expected, it is preferable to re-lay slabs on a concrete base to ensure even bearing of wheels, rather than introducing bollards.

Bollards cause damage to the paving if hit by vehicles and add clutter to simple paved surfaces.

Joints should be slightly recessed. Raised strap-jointing which is commonly used detracts from the aesthetic appearance of the stone by covering the arises of the slabs.

Jointing material should be weaker than the stone, preferably traditional limesand mortar. Hard cement pointing can not easily be removed when slabs are re-laid, and inevitably results in damage to the granite.

The excellent craftsmanship of Dublin’s granite paving is particularly apparent in its details.

Coal-hole surrounds and slabs around pillar bases should not be disturbed.

Curved kerbs at corners, quadrant-shaped corner paving stones and doublestep kerbs are examples of distinctive original features which should always be retained.



Original kerbstones were often of varying widths. They did not always form a continuous joint with paving slabs, but formed part of the staggered bonding pattern of the pavement. This pattern demonstrates the skill of the craftsman and should be retained.

The practice of cutting original Wicklow granite kerbs, to simplify junctions to new paving should be avoided.

New material should always be adapted rather than the historic stone. Where cutting is unavoidable, edges should be tooled to match historic cut edges.

Disabled accessibility requires kerbstones to be dropped at crossings. This often results in cutting of original slabs into chaotic patterns, which spoil the simplicity of the paving in prominent positions. Radial or dovetail patterns should be used to cut and lay paving so that paving layouts at dropped kerbs look neat.

Protecting Setts and Ironwork insets In many places in the city high-quality setted surfaces survive beneath layers of tarmac. •

Where this can be identified or may be assumed, great care should be taken if the street surface is disturbed for repairs or for laying of services.

Decorative coal hole covers, iron kerbs, gullies and manholes of cast-iron or with insets of wood should always be conserved.

Historic Street Furniture To conserve the surviving fine examples of historic street furniture: •

Clear lines of responsibility for future maintenance must be adopted. Public lighting and paving departments must be appraised of the importance and maintenance needs of these elements.

Ironwork Historic street furniture consists for a large part of cast-ironwork; Lamp standards, pillar boxes, wall post-boxes, bollards and base-protectors are important historic items which lend an authentic atmosphere of continuity, valued by residents of the city and visitors alike. Cast ironwork is less susceptible to rusting than wrought iron and so paint finishes have been better preserved. Paint layers are often an important aspect of the history of ironwork in the public domain. Pillar boxes have changed from red to green, but other elements have also changed, following changing fashions. These layers of paint document such changes and add layers of history, which should not be removed when restoring of renewing finishes.



Inspect ironwork regularly and repaint at the first sign of rust or paint breaking down.

Preparation and painting pf ironwork should be thorough to ensure a proper seal.

Repairs should preferably be carried out in-situ to avoid damage during disassembly and reassembly.

Lamp Standards The lamp standards of Dublin, as identified by Derry O’Connell in The Antique Pavement, are a unique feature of the city. Every effort should be made to retain and conserve all surviving standards. Inappropriate modifications should e reversed. Light sources should be identified which produce a level of lighting close to the original gas light. This would enhance the appreciation of these elements of the historic streetscape. Street signs Where historic street signs survive, these historic elements should be retained or reinstated, as they lend a richness and sense of historic continuity to the public domain, which standardisation of street signs erodes. Pillar boxes Pillar boxes make a significant contribution to the character of Dublin’s streets and should be retained. Though element of the public domain these are not under the control of the city authorities, but of An Post. •

The tendency to replace historic pillar boxes will remove from our streets a historic element of great character and should be halted.

Protection under the Planning and Development Act, 2000, may be the best way to ensure that historic pillar boxes of all periods are retained.

Also addition of unsightly pouch attachments to increase capacity of boxes should be discouraged and alternative solutions found.

Stonework Bollards, Horse troughs and drinking fountains are rare elements of stone street furniture. •

A policy for the cleaning and repair of these items should be adopted.

Replacement with modern copies detracts from the authenticity of the historic streetscape and should be avoided.

Inventory of Historic Street Paving and Furniture 2004  

This inventory was commissioned from Dublin Civic Trust in 2004 to map and assess the degree of historic fabric remaining in the city's publ...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you