lord edward street, dublin

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This topic contains 34 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  GrahamH 4 years ago.

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  • #710101

    Paul Clerkin

    A scheme that I hadn’t seen before for new council offices –
    1913 – Winning Design
    Architects Macdonnell & Reid

  • #802725

    Paul Clerkin

    Actually I’m wrong in that I have seen it before because it’s on here 😉

  • #802726


    A good lot of Edwardian pomp and (restrained) swagger there – another victim of WWI? Actually, it’s position on a narrow street would have made it very difficult to see properly, but the tower would have been a nice counterfoil to Christchurch, the kind of effect we’ve forgotten how to do. The illustration seems to take little account of the westward slope of the street; were they going to level it?

  • #802727


    Hey johnglas, this looks like some of your lot marching up Lord Edward Street about 1900.

    The background is very faint, but I’m pretty sure it’s Lord Edward Street looking down towards Dame Street before the north side (or possibly either side) had been developed.

  • #802728


    Yes it definitely is – great shot.

    Given this particular site (or rather part of it) wasn’t finally developed until the late 1920s, it seems this proposal lingered around for quite a while. There’s quite an incline johnglas with the basement if you look closely – what a dull frontage at street level though as a result. An elegant facade but what a spectacularly ugly tower.

    Nonetheless Mr McDonnell still got his way elsewhere in the capital some may have noticed.

    Recognise anyone? 😉

    Talk about copying and pasting.

    It is of course his bank building at the corner of O’Connell Street and Middle Abbey Street of 1917.

    Other trademark features include elaborate fluted Ionic columns employed in a double height fashion across the facade, ebullient heavy cornice, and a sparse attic storey.

    A hint of what the Edwardian(ish) interior may have been like…

  • #802729


    GrahamH: great shots of the O’Connell St place; I still think they smoothed out the LE St slope a bit. I like the tower – over the top, but it was good enough for Vanbrugh (cf. Blenheim, etc.).
    gunter triumphs as usual, but they’re about 6 pipers and several drummers short of a band – economies in c.1900 as well?

  • #802730


    Oh the cupola is pleasant, but the shaft – not quite…

    Another view of the area from around 1930. The northern side has been long developed, but the southern side remains empty except for the 1927 current HSE centre (behind the white Newcomen Bank), the tall and lonely solitary Victorian built on the street (its incongruity still evident to this day), and the remarkably narrow 1910ish terrace to the west.

    I’ve never quite understood how this thoroughfare developed though – did the nasty 1990s infill along here and the 1980s hostel just fill the above vacant sites? And if so, how is it that a short street laid out in the 1880s in the very heart of the city only came to be completed over a century later?

    The Civic Offices area to the top of the picture is nothing short of a forgotton world…

  • #802731


    Thats an amazing view of that area. It really is absolutely staggering what we destroyed.

  • #802732


    Agreed reddy, but you can’t unscramble an omelette; however, I’ve long thought that some kind of building just north of Christchurch, between it and the Civic Offices, would redress the balance. The views of the old quarter above give a strong hint as to scale. The idea of surrounding public buildings with meaningless open space just to give ‘views’ is very 20th C with little historical precedent.

  • #802733


    The former Labour Exhange on Lord Edward Street is a little-known example of civic architecture of the early 20th century, built by the Office of Public Works in 1915. It is very much in the style of the then-being-completed Royal College of Science on Merrion Street, and was designed by Harold Leask (later to become Inspector of National Monuments) and Martin Joseph Burke (later to become Assistant Principal Architect for the OPW during the War).

    It has just been cleaned and fully refurbished. The usual application for setback storeys was refused. Hopefully that scaffold rail is coming down.

    The building’s distinctly flat and somewhat appliqué facade is remarkably similar in composition to that of the newly refaced Buckingham Palace, carried out in 1913. Given Aston Webb’s notions were sloshing around Dublin at the time, perhaps this is no surprise.

    Another Palladian portico features on the Ulster Bank on O’Connell Street of similar date.

    Marching ranks of fenestration.

    Lots of orginal glass survives.

    Unfortunately the secondary glazing is crude and unnecessarily cumbersome. Merely painting the rear of the frames a charcoal shade alone would eliminate this.

    The granite is now glistening – beautiful texture at ground floor level when coupled with the deep chanelling.

    The entrance door was more than likely intended to have a date stamp carved into it.

    One of the side entrances.

  • #802734


    The ground floor also features metal windows, probably steel, an indication of the modernity of this building. Indeed the entire structure is probably of steel.

    It is of some concern that the scaffolding has just come down yet already there’s rust appearing through the new paint on some of these frames.

    The wonderfully expressive main entrance.

    Otherwise, the building is completely gutted interior-wise – it appears nothing of substance had survived before the renovation got underway. Chic plaster slab ceilings and walls now predominate. Indeed given the building’s original purpose, it’s likely it was a pretty sparse fitout to begin with.

    The new tongue-in-cheek rear.

    A few public domain works wouldn’t go amiss.

    The glazed corner insert to the side elevation, while perfectly valid, is poorly detailed.

    It also compares unfavourably with the texture elsewhere here.

    Alas I’ve no pictures of the building before it was cleaned, but the difference is startling. I’ve heard a couple of people commenting on it, having never noticed it before. It catches the morning sun very well.

  • #802735


    Scrubbed up very well; I remember this being sold in 2004 for what seemed like a reasonable sum.

    It is amazing that a leisure use wasn’t preferred at this location given the quality of the facade it would look great on last minute.

  • #802736

    Paul Clerkin

    Before cleanup

  • #802737


    @grahamh wrote:

    I like that little shopfront that was put in at the side. Reminds me of the way a traditional dwelling might have been altered for a shop, with just the bare essentials of a window, door & fascia …….. actually there’s an example round the corner at Fishamble St / Essex St cnr. building.

  • #802738

    Paul Clerkin

    Two more schemes from the 1913 Municipal Offices comp

    2nd Place – Frederick Hicks

    3rd Place – O’Callaghan & Webb

  • #802739


    The third placed entry has a certain grace and beauty to it, though what has happened to the former Newcomen Bank (Dublin City Council Rates Office)!

  • #802740

    Paul Clerkin

    That design seems to propose the rebuilding of the facade to Lord Edward Street.

  • #802741


    though what has happened to the former Newcomen Bank

    Subtly altered, it’s the left-hand bookend, or pavilion if you like; context,context, context.

  • #802742


    O’Callaghan & Webb’s proposal is definitely the more elegant of the two, with its elegant saucer dome reminicent of the graceful public buildings of 19th century Europe.

    (here Castle Ploskovice, a private mansion)

    Surely a feature that could never be appreciated though?

    Hicks’ proposed pilastered facades are extremely elegant (and a welcome introduction to Dublin which is devoid of that particular design feature on a large scale), but sadly let down by a crude resolution of the upper storey and roofline. The join with Newcomen is a disaster!

  • #802743


    @grahamh wrote:

    O’Callaghan & Webb’s proposal is definitely the more elegant of the two, with its elegant saucer dome reminicent of the graceful public buildings of 19th century Europe.

    Surely it’s the most elegant of the three proposals, not just the two runners up.

    I always find the variation in people’s tastes amazing. How people thought that the winning proposal by MacDonnell & Reid, shown in the opening post on this thread, was superior to the third placed design by O’Callaghan & Webb is beyond me. If it was because of the alteration to the Newcomen bank, I would have quite easily accepted such a change if it meant having such an elegant design on Lord Edward Street.

  • #802744


    Fully agreed. In any event, the most important aspect of the Newcomen Bank is that from outside City Hall at the Castle gate, where the two high quality facades present themselves equally to Cork Hill and the once-important Castle Street. The Lord Edward Street elevation, however exposed by the creation of that same street, is secondary. While still important to its composition, its refacing as part of a palatial public building which shapes the character of this important thoroughfare leading from Christchurch is rendered relatively insignificant!

    It’s amusing to note that such a gradiose public building project is so compromised by way of being shunted eastwards over the Newcomen Bank, purely for the sake of accommodating a single privately owned plot to the west – the site of the 1880s Victorian sliver of a building. The plot after that is vacant! This also highlights the typical lack of vision that so pervaded in Dublin historically, even in the context of the clean-slate opportunity that was the laying out of Lord Edward Street. The potential for a unified composition reaching from Newcomen all the way westwards, wrapping around the corner onto Christchurch Place (originally Fishamble Street) is so obvious its blinding, offering the opportunity to provide a distinguished setting for Christchurch and a dignified entrance to the processional thoroughfare leading to Parnell Square.

  • #802745


    The Processional Thoroughfare gets a bit lost roundabouts Charlies, Supermacs and Abrakebabra on Westmoreland St.

  • #802746



    This remarkable colour photograph of Lord Edward Street, taken in June 1961 by Charles W. Cushman, tells us much about the protracted development of one of the city’s most prominent thoroughfares. Nearly eighty years after the laying out of the street, large tracts remain undeveloped (all the lampposts have a brand new shiny coat of silver paint).

    As previously mentioned, the large red brick HSE building to the left, formerly a Carnagie Child Welfare Centre, dates to 1927, and features a magnificent array of metal windows with inward-tilting top lights – all long since replaced with dubious 1980s timber sashes. Beyond that in the distance, the first building to be constructed – one imagines somewhat tentatively – on the new street in 1887 proved to be just a tad premature. Over half a century later and it was still standing on its ownio. To describe it as precarious looking would also be understatement of the (same) century. Indeed, until the 1910s there was absolutely nothing else standing on the south side of the street, so this building must have been quite a spectacle. Perhaps the obligation to build within one year of purchasing a site here had something to do with the slow uptake of plots.

    This aerial photograph from around 1930, as posted earlier, shows how the street developed with a fine grain on the south side, and with monolithic, self-contained structures to the north in a manner not unlike the present-day approach to street building.

    Presumably the incredibly narrow terrace at the junction with Christchurch Place came about as a result of the limited acquisition of lands that took place to create Lord Edward Street. Seemingly the bare minimum was compulsorily purchased at this particular location, sufficient to create a ‘street wall’ and a habitable structure. The narrowest terrace in Dublin?

  • #802747

    Paul Clerkin

    terrace is a slight misnomer here as it suggests a collection of buildings when in fact it was an institution – an orphanage – The Dublin Working Boy’s Home


    meacupla bollix – you’re talking about across the street
    I was in that once years ago – ridiculously narrow interior spaces

  • #802748


    @grahamh wrote:

    It has just been cleaned and fully refurbished. The usual application for setback storeys was refused. Hopefully that scaffold rail is coming down.

    Absolutely.. gorgeous..

    I wish the infilling around the city centre could be done in this style.

  • #802749



    Skirting around the fringes of the early days of photography, we must rely on sketch drawings for perspectives of Cork Hill in the days before Lord Edward Street.

    Henry Shaw’s ever-helpful The Dublin Pictorial Guide & Directory of 1850 shows a charmingly picturesque urban scene as viewed, somewhat optimised, from outside City Hall.

    Tall Georgian commercial premises step up the hill from the entrance to Blind Quay on the right – now Upper Exchange Street – towards the Newcomen Bank in its pre-extended three-bay appearance on the left. The bank’s main entrance is clearly apparent as being on Castle Street, which survives to this day with its associated entrance hall, while the Cork Hill elevation is railed with a basement well – this too was a secondary entrance originally.

    Of note is that in 1850, only one shop had modern plate glass windows (the vertical strips of the middle shop) while all the others retain quaint Georgian grids. The three-bay house on at No. 10 has its horizontal stacking shutters up.

    Of the buildings on the right, remarkably all of these plots still survive. The Queen of Tarts is second from the left!

    Indeed, the left-hand buildings possibly retain Goergian fabric behind their sober machine-made brick facades to this day, although I do remember reading a reference to the Exchange Street corner being comprehensively rebuilt – it may have been confused with the former newspaper offices on the corner with Parliament Street though. The viceregal warrants are a proud civic feature that has all but vanished from Dublin streets – sadly an element that could still be seen into the 1950s.

    Turning the other direction and reeling back half a century, here is a rare view of one of the great institutional pairings in the city: the La Touche Bank to the left and the Newcomen Bank to the right. What a spectacle, when combined with the west front of the Royal Exchange, as one approached the gates of Dublin Castle. The steep incline, the gracious sweep in the road, the monumental sense of enclosure, the grandiose pretentions of the architecture: urban theatre at its very best.

    The print is taken from the December 1788 edition of the Gentleman’s Magazine. In the background a few Billys are scribbled in to heighten the sophistication of the new.

    Christine Casey’s memorable observation of the Castle being ‘shamefully upstaged’ by its sophisticated neighbours on Cork Hill is vividly brought home by such perspectives.

  • #802750


    What a quirky little street Cork Street would have been! Has the space been kept it could have created a lovely “court” about the City Hall. The changed street layout also shows what an anachronism the retained “Cork Street” is, given that the street has no all but disappeared. It confuses the poor tourists to beat the band! All those hapless souls standing at the corner of City Hall desperately looking for Dame Street or Lord Edward Street and squinting to try and find Cork Hill on the map!

  • #802751


    I think I remember reading that there was a late 1700s plan to construct a Square on the site of what is now Lord Edward St. If I remember correctly, it was to be called Richmond Sq.

  • #802752


    Think that was the square on the site of City Hall you’re thinking of

  • #802753


    @rory W wrote:

    Think that was the square on the site of City Hall you’re thinking of

    Possibly? Do you have any information on that….I still can’t remember were I read about it!;)

  • #802754


    You’re thinking of ‘Bedford Square’, as shown on Rocque’s map of 1756.

    I don’t think it ever really got off the ground and then they came up with the idea to build the Royal Exchange on the site and that was the end of that.

  • #802755


    Hey Gunther

    You are probably correct! Its been driving me mad trying to remember where I read about this. Also, I mistakenly thought the name started with R:)

    Bedford Sq was planned but never actually laid out despite being shown on the Map??

  • #802756

    Paul Clerkin

    there were a number of these “ghost” developments that appeared in maps over the years and were never executed

  • #943889


    This is an interesting plan for the area from the 1870s

    1874 – Proposed new street by Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin


  • #944362


    What a great thread this was – a grand twenty minutes whiled away.

    It’s a shame that the distinctive, symmetrically-planned rear of the 1927 Carnegie centre – seemingly with a first floor veranda for taking the air – was demolished for the Caste Gate apartments.

  • #974717

  • #993626


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