Tag Archives: Dublin

Greyways and the Black Bridge

Martin McGuinness [SF] was asked recently, in the Northern Ireland Assembly, about blueways:

Leslie Cree [UUP]: It was interesting to read that Waterways Ireland has developed this first blueway in the Carrick-on-Shannon area. Can he share with us if, in fact, Waterways Ireland has developed any projects for the Erne waterway itself?

Mr McGuinness said:

These projects are under ongoing consideration by Waterways Ireland, as the development of blueways and greenways could add to our tourist potential. It is clear from how greenways have been used, particularly in the west of Ireland, that they have huge health benefits for those now walking and cycling and involved in physical activity.

There is a proposal for another greenway from Derry city to County Donegal. Blueways and greenways offer important tourist potential, and it is exciting to see that Waterways Ireland is considering the linkage in the Leitrim area and how it can be extended to Lough Erne.

But, if I might remind TPTB, not everybody likes walking, cycling and physical activity; not everybody is going to be rolling around in a kayak or paddling a canoe. There are older folk, there are those who rightly view exercise with the gravest of suspicion and there are those whose interests simply lie elsewhere.

The Greyway concept

It is for such folk that I have developed the Greyway [TM]  concept. It’s the same as a blueway or a greenway but without the sweating or the lurid dayglo clothing.

The basic idea is that you form a “route” or “way” as a marketing concept to get more people using your existing assets. Your expenditure is low: research, product development, marketing and information provision rather than infrastructure; self-guided rather than staffed user experiences. Direct income might be low too, although there may be ways to extract cash from users; there might also be spin-off opportunities for other providers. [All my usual reservations about small-scale providers apply here too.]

There might be Greyways catering for

  • walkers: gentle walks with opportunities for sitting down, drinking tea and getting a taxi back to the start
  • drivers: long-distance routes taking in several sites
  • boaters: most of Waterways Ireland’s sites are accessible by water and by road. Furthermore, some trip boats might use elements of the Greyway material in providing information for their passengers.

Themes

You need a theme to attract people: “come and walk/drive the X Greyway and see all the lovely/interesting Ys”. No doubt there are several possible values for Y: bunnies, trees, fish, bogs, hills …. But the main thing that Waterways Ireland has to sell, and that it does not currently sell, is its industrial heritage. The Shannon, in particular, exists as an improved navigation only because of (a) steam, (b) the British industrial revolution, (c) Irish agriculture and (d) low politics. And industrial heritage is something that interests some at least of the older folk. Package it into routes and sell it for grey pounds, euros or dollars.

There is all sorts of interesting stuff along the Shannon, mostly just lying there, and it should be put to work. The most concentrated section is along the old Limerick Navigation, from Limerick to Killaloe: for instance, last time I looked seven of the original twelve milestones were still present. [The distance was 12 Irish miles, approx 24 km or 15 statute miles.] It’s a walkable route and it includes

  • the neglected Black Bridge at Plassey, whose very existence reflects the Victorian version of Just-in-time delivery
  • the bridge and artefacts at O’Briensbridge
  • the richest waterways heritage site in Ireland at Killaloe.

But there could also be driving tours along the middle Shannon, between Portumna and Athlone, where there is lots to see, and from Lanesborough upwards. Shannon Harbour might eventually house a museum ….

ERIH

What I’m suggesting is that Waterways Ireland should designate the Shannon as the first route (as opposed to site) in Ireland within the European Route of Industrial Heritage [ERIH] framework. ERIH’s website includes descriptions of the route system and of anchor points, which may be too advanced for present use, but why not a European Theme Route in Transport and Communication? Ireland might even make a case for the use of advanced (or at least interesting) transport technology (steamers) in carrying agricultural produce to industrial markets.

Furthermore, if CIE were to cooperate, the railways might be brought in too, and the livestock trade, and Dublin Port, and a regional route linking to Liverpool and the railway to Manchester ….

There is an interesting story to be told about the Shannon and its links to the east coast and beyond; its industrial heritage could be used to attract tourists and entertain natives.

 

 

 

Crosby stills

John O’Dowd [SF] made a ministerial statement to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 3 November 2014, about the recent meeting of the North/South Ministerial Council in education format. His final English-language paragraph was about non-education matters:

Finally, we approved the appointment of Mr Tarlach Ó Crosáin to the board of the trade and business development body from 22 October 2014 to 12 December 2015, and, on behalf of Waterways Ireland, we approved the sale of the freehold interest in property at 9 Hanover Quay, Dublin 2 to Mrs Rita Crosby.

Here is what the Ordnance Survey says is 9 Hanover Quay. And here is what Google Maps says, with still photographs available in Street View.

The relevant NSMC minutes are here. There was a waterways NSMC meeting on 27 November 2014 at which “The Council consented to a number of property disposals”, unspecified. Perhaps the sale of the Hanover Quay freehold was a particularly urgent matter that could not wait until November.

If waterways business is going to be done at other sectoral meetings, I may have to read the whole blasted lot of them.

 

Rail, road and river: steam in 1829

Four news items, all in the Varieties section of the Hampshire Chronicle on 19 October 1829.

Rail

The trial of the locomotive carriages near Liverpool was continued on Saturday, when Mr Stephenson’s engine, the Rocket, disencumbered of every weight, shot along the road at the almost incredible rate of 32 miles in the hour! So astonishing was the celerity with which the engine, without its apparatus, darted past the spectators, that it could be compared to nothing but the rapidity with which the swallow darts through the air.

Road 1

Mr Gurney’s steam carriage can be stopped dead within the space of two yards, though going at the rate of from 18 to 20 miles an hour, and this without any inconvenient shock to the machinery or passengers. It is capable of dragging a carriage, weighing three tons and containing 100 passengers, over a level road, at the rate of eight, nine, or ten miles an hour: will drag the same carriage, containing 25 passengers, up the steepest road in England, at the same rate. On ascending hills, for every cwt that is shifted from the front to the hind wheels, the carriage requires an additional drawing power of 4 cwt and on level ground an additional power of half a ton. The contrivance by which the carriage may be retarded at pleasure on descending hills, acts independently of the wheels, so that the sliding and cutting effect of the ordinary drags is entirely avoided.

Road 2

Sir James Anderson has entered into a contract with the Irish Post Office, by which he undertakes to convey the mails throughout Ireland at the rate of 12 miles an hour, in coaches impelled by steam, calculated to carry two or three passengers, in addition to the coachman and guard. This invention of Sir James Anderson, for which he has obtained a patent, has seldom been exhibited out of the yard in which it was constructed; but it is said to bear very little resemblance to the drag-coach of Mr Gurney. The contract is understood to be for 14 years, and the only pecuniary stipulation made by Sir James is, that he shall receive half the money which the Government shall save by adopting his system. He will shortly commence carrying the mails between Howth and Dublin. The road is level and good, and the distance not more than nine or ten miles.

[Note: an 1841 proposal by Sir James Anderson is covered here. And here is a longer piece about Sir James and the Steam Carriage and Waggon Company of Ireland.]

River

An iron steam boat of a peculiar construction, and having the paddles in the centre, has been built at Liverpool, by Messrs Fawcell and Co for the Irish Inland Steam Navigation Company. This vessel was tried in the Mersey on Monday, and the result was highly satisfactory. Another iron vessel, of 60 tons burden, was launched on Tuesday from Messrs Wm Laird and Son’s yard, on the banks of Wallasey Pool.

[Note: the Fawcett steamer and the 60-ton barge were destined for the Shannon. The barge was the first iron vessel built by Lairds.]

DUKWs? Fiat lux

I have written here about a series of misfortunes suffered by DUKWs in Liverpool and London. On 16 June 2013 I put up some photos of DUKWs in Dublin and Liverpool; I pointed to what seemed to me to be two differences between practices in the two cities:

First, before they enter the water at Grand Canal Dock, Ringsend, the DUKWs are fitted with extra buoyancy in cylinders that slide into racks along their sides. I saw the VikingSplash crew removing the cylinders from the yellow DUKW; it took only a couple of minutes, and I presume that it didn’t take much longer to put the cylinders on.

Second, the Dublin passengers are issued with buoyancy aids before they take to the water. I can’t see any buoyancy aids on the Liverpool passengers, although it’s possible that they are out of camera shot.

There are links on that page to photos, news reports and a seriously scary video of the sinking of a DUKW in Liverpool. Then, in September 2013, a DUKW went on fire on the Thames; my brief report and links here. In October 2013 the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch issued a safety bulletin (my report here, with links) pointing to foam buoyancy as a common factor. The Liverpool DUKWs did not have enough buoyancy to keep them afloat if they started taking water and MAIB thought it would be impossible to get enough into them. On the London vessel,

… the most likely cause of fire was the action of the rotating drive shaft (or other moving parts) on the oil contaminated surfaces of the buoyancy foam blocks.

In November 2013 I noted that the wearing of lifejackets had been discussed in London and I commented on the policy of the Dublin operator, VikingSplash:

The point that strikes me is that, in both UK accidents, passengers had little time to don lifejackets and would have been trying to put them on in a confined space and under less than ideal conditions. It seems to me that Viking Splash’s policy [having passengers don lifejackets before taking to the water] is the right one.

In December 2014 the MAIB published its report into the two accidents. There’s a Guardian news report here [h/t gjb] and you can download the MAIB’s full report and annexes from this page. The London and Liverpool accidents are covered in the same report.

It’s well worth reading and pulls (as far as I could tell) no punches, even tearing strips off the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, both within the UK Department for Transport and both involved because the DUKW is an amphibian.

I took three main points from the report.

The Irish approach

First, the Irish authorities seem to have thought seriously about the safety problems. My understanding of the buoyancy requirements was mistaken: the UK DUKWs had added buoyancy (although not enough, and adding more foam caused fire) and the Irish buoyancy cylinders are not designed to keep the vessel afloat. Here’s what MAIB says:

In Ireland, APV operators have been permitted to operate vintage DUKWs without having to provide any residual buoyancy. To mitigate the consequences of serious flooding, the Irish regulator required the operators to:

  • Fit external buoyancy tubes designed to slow the sinking process and make the vehicle sink bodily [my emphasis].
  • Retract the canopy roof and open the side curtains prior to entering the water.
  • Require passengers and crew to wear PFDs while on the water.
  • Provide a fast rescue craft, rescue crew and an inflatable liferaft at the slipway.
  • Limit operations to a non-tidal area.

This approach focused on passenger survivability by reducing the risk of entrapment and drowning, rather than vehicle survivability, and introduced several of the interim measures recommended by the NTSB following the sinking of Miss Majestic.

The Irish model demonstrates that open topped APVs can be operated successfully in similar weather conditions to those experienced in the UK, and that passengers are willing to wear PFDs.

So big it up for the Irish Maritime Administration.

The speed of the sinking

Second, if you’ve seen the video of the Liverpool sinking you may have been struck by its speed. In both Liverpool and London passengers had very little time to get out and the report’s synopsis says

In both instances, the crew had little time to co-ordinate the evacuation process and the confined nature of passenger spaces made it almost impossible for them to control or assist the passengers.

And in 4.3 Common safety issues:

8.  It was extremely fortunate that all on board WQ1 and Cleopatra were able to evacuate into the water unharmed. In both cases the passengers were forced to act on instinct and exit the vehicles under their own initiative.

Any of several issues could have cut the time available and “the risk of entrapment and the likelihood of loss of life would have been considerably higher”.

So Figure 63 of a Dublin DUKW doesn’t just show the external buoyancy cylinders: the passengers are wearing buoyancy aids, there is a crewman already stationed at the stern and the side and roof canopies are open, all giving more chance of escape.

I’m not in any position to assess the overall safety of the Irish DUKW operation. What interests me here is a more general point about the evacuation of passengers from trip vessels: getting a large number of people out of a small space in a short time is not easy. And the recent problem of getting people off the Norman Atlantic didn’t make me feel any better.

Photo

Third, I am delighted that my photo of a DUKW in Liverpool was useful to the  UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch (see the report’s Figure 16) but they really should have asked for permission to use it.

 

Matricide

A young woman, named Anne Macdonald, threw her mother into the Grand Canal, Dublin, last week, where the unfortunate woman was drowned. The daughter was excited to the unnatural act by a sudden fit of passion, on being called an opprobrious name by her mother.

Liverpool Mercury 1 January 1830

Nenagh Canal

Canal between Nenagh and the River Shannon

At a numerous and highly respectable Meeting of the Gentry, Merchants, Traders, and Freeholders of the Baronies of Upper Ormond, Lower Ormond, and Owney and Arra, held at Nenagh, County of Tipperary, on Wednesday, the 30th day of January, 1839.

PETER HOLMES, Esq, JP, and DL, in the Chair.

Moved by John Bayly, Esq; seconded by the Rev J H Poe, Rector of Nenagh:

Resolved — That we consider a Canal communication between Nenagh and the River Shannon, of vital importance to the prosperity of the town and neighbourhood, as increasing commerce, lessening the cost of fuel, facilitating intercourse with the sea ports of the country, and giving employment to the poor.

Moved by John Bouchier, Esq; seconded by the Reverend Ambrose O’Connor, PP of Nenagh:

Resolved — That we have heard with interest the Report of Mr Henry Buck, Engineer, on the proposed line of Canal; and recommend the adoption of the line he has surveyed.

Moved by John M’Keogh Dwyer, Esq; seconded by Thomas Maguire, Esq:

Resolved — That we recommend the adoption of the Prospectus that we have heard read.

Moved by Hastings Atkins, Esq; seconded by J J Poe, Esq:

Resolved — That we appoint Peter Holmes, Esq, a Commissioner, who is to name a second, the second a third, and so on, until the whole are appointed.

Moved by O’Brien Dillon, Esq; seconded by John Bayley, Esq:

Resolved — That the names of Lords Dunally, and Orkney be added to the list of Commissioners.

Moved by Doctor Quin; seconded by Doctor Dempster:

Resolved — That we recommend the proceedings of the Meeting to be published in the Nenagh Guardian, Limerick Chronicle, and other Papers, and that the Secretary be instructed to get printed 300 copies of the Prospectus.

Moved by John M’Keogh Dwyer, Esq; seconded by Thos Maguire, Esq:

Resolved — That we now enter into a Subscription list for Shares, according to the provisions of the Prospectus read at this Meeting.

PETER HOLMES, Chairman.
O’BRIEN DILLON, Secretary.

Mr Holmes having left the Chair, and Mr Bayley having been called thereto —

Resolved — That the thanks of the Meeting are due, and hereby given, to Peter Holmes, Esq, for his impartial conduct in the Chair, and for the spirited example he has set in being the first to subscribe for Fifty Shares.

JOHN BAYLEY, Chairman.
O’BRIEN DILLON, Secretary.

Dublin Monitor 7 February 1839

Broadstone

You can visit the building on the weekend of 18 & 19 October 2014 as part of Open House Dublin. And there are other sites of industrial heritage and transport interest that will be open between 17 and 19 October.

The value of art …

… is the evidence it provides about boats and inland waterways.

Here is an unreliable link to a painting called Grand Canal Harbour [click on the image to enlarge it] by Flora Mitchell. If the link doesn’t work, use this, which seems to be less flaky, and enter the two words canal and mitchell in the Quick Search box; you should get two thumbnails of canal paintings by Flora Mitchell.

[updated 20140922]

A puzzle in waterways history

According to the Lagan Canal Trust,

The Lagan Navigation also forms part of a wider all Ireland waterway network. This network of waterways once traversed through the towns and cities of Ireland delivering goods and produce, helping to shape the economic fortunes of the country.

I would be grateful for information about any goods or produce that were ever carried from the Shannon, or from the Royal or Grand Canals or the River Barrow via the Shannon, through the Junction Canal in the Ballinamore & Ballyconnell Drainage District [later called the Ballinamore & Ballyconnell Canal and later still the Shannon–Erne Waterway] and then the Ulster Canal to Lough Neagh or any of the waterways connected therewith. Or, of course, in the opposite direction.

As far as I can tell, outside the sales blurbs written by engineers seeking employment and waterway owners seeking subsidies, there was never a connected all-Ireland waterways network; nor was there ever any need or demand for such a thing.

Any more than there is now.

 

The Royal under the Railway

A new, short book, on aspects of the history of the Royal Canal, published by the Railway and Canal Historical Society, will be launched at the Clinker Lecture on 18 October 2014. The title is The Royal under the Railway: Ireland’s Royal Canal 1830–1899 and it covers a number of topics, mostly about the canal after it was bought by the Midland Great Western Railway. From the Introduction:

The accounts of the Midland Great Western Railway for the half year ending 31 December 1849, four years after it bought the Royal Canal, showed its gross income from the railway as £23,773 and its income from the canal as £7,677, roughly a quarter of the total. By 1899, though, income from the railway was £264,393 and that from the canal £2,220, less than one per cent of the total. The Royal Canal, never particularly successful, had declined into utter irrelevance.

It may seem perverse, therefore, to offer even a short book on the canal’s history in that period, especially as there exist two full histories, by Peter Clarke and by Ruth Delany (with Ian Bath in the most recent edition). This, though, is not a full history, even of the limited period, roughly 1830–1899, from just before the railway took over until the end of the nineteenth century. This is rather a complement to those histories, providing just enough background information to  enable the book to stand alone while covering some new topics and providing new or extra information on others. The topics include:

  • the 120-foot steam-powered narrowboat
  • the Midland Great Western Railway’s early attempts at running canal boats
  • the ingenious Mr Mallet’s moveable bridge
  • the whore who held the mortgage on the canal
  • the competition between the roads of Roscommon and the Royal Canal
  • the reconstruction of Dublin bridges over the canal
  • the horses who slept on board their boat.

[…] this book is not intended to be the last word on any of those topics. I hope that it might encourage others – those researching local, family, social, industrial, transport, economic or technological history – to record and transmit anything they might learn about the history of the Royal Canal. To take just three topics, we know very little about canal employees, the operations of canal traders or the management of the horse-drawn canal boats. On any one of those, useful information could just as easily be found by a local or family historian as by a canal specialist.