Category Archives: Engineering and construction

Selling the Shannon

We have purchased the steamer Ballymurtagh on favourable terms, and have placed her on the river Shannon, for the purpose of facilitating your trade in that district. This steamer carries its own cargo, and can be worked with economy in conjunction with your steamers already plying on the Shannon. The arrangement so made places at your disposal the steamer Shannon, which has been employed heretofore in towing boats between Carrick-on-Shannon and Killaloe. We purpose selling the steamer Shannon, when a suitable price can be obtained.

From the report of the directors of the Grand Canal Company, to be presented at its half-yearly meeting on Monday 24 August 1868, reported in the Galway Vindicator, and Connaught Advertiser
22 August 1868

SCREW STEAMER FOR SALE BY AUCTION

FOR SALE BY AUCTION, on Tuesday, the 21st July 1868, at Ringsend Docks, Dublin, at One o’Clock, By order of the Directors of the Grand Canal Company,

Their powerful and strong-built Towing Steamer

SHANNON

She is 71 feet long, 15 feet 6 inches beam, iron-built, and fitted with Marine condensing engines, 45 horse power. Her machinery is in excellent repair, and a large sum of money has been recently laid out on her boiler.

She can be seen at Ringsend Dock, Dublin, and further particulars may be had from Mr Samuel Healy, Grand Canal Harbour, James’s-street, Dublin; William Digby Cooke, Esq, Secretary, or JAMES FOXALL, Broker.

Freeman’s Journal 18 July 1868

Tarmonbarry 1851

To the Editor of the [Dublin] Evening Mail

Sir

In your impression of the 3d instant, under the head of “The Famine Advances and the English Press”, I find a reference to the (so called) improvement of the Shannon; that of the sum of £313009 advanced by government, £230325 has been repaid. In this case you say (and most truly say) “the jobbing was most flagrant, and the reckless waste of the public money unparalleled”.

So far you are correct, but you are, no doubt, labouring under a very common mistake when you say the works have very recently been completed, such not being the case. Some handsome bridges, with swivel arches, and spacious locks — one in this neighbourhood too small to admit an ordinary river steamer. Nor was the level properly taken, there not being sufficient water to carry tonnage drawing more than 5 feet 6 inches, during the greater part of the summer.

Now, I should wish to know, through your well informed medium, to what cause is to be attributed the present state of the weir, or lock dam, adjoining Tarmonbarry, a span of nearly 500 feet. Owing to the improper manner in which the same has been executed, upwards of 60 feet have given way, and when examined by the engineer of the board, the entire is found in such a state as will involve the rebuilding.

In justice to this gentlemen, I am bound to say he was not the engineer under whom it was constructed, nor do I think, until very lately, he had anything to do with the Shannon Commission, every work in which he has been engaged, being acknowledged to be well executed.

I am not aware whether you are in possession of this fact, that in order to make the Shannon improvements available or remunerative, it has been considered necessary to construct a canal to “Lough Erne”, adjoining Belturbet, and thence to communicate with Belfast, by “the Ulster canal”. You will, I am sure, agree with me in the old adage, that “this would be going round the world to look for a short cut”; but the cut I allude to is not so short, as it involves, I am informed, thirty miles of new canal, and several large and expensive locks.

But, Sir, I must inform you, that the tolls of the river Shannon, from Carrick-on-Shannon to Limerick city, are barely sufficient to pay the lock-keepers’ salaries. The Shannon Commission I would henceforth style “the Shannon job”.

I remain, Sir, though a bad dancer, one who must

Pay the Piper

[Dublin] Evening Mail 17 November 1851

From the British Newspaper Archive

Railway horse power

From the result of inquiries, which the Directors have caused to be made, into the system of Scotch railways, it is the intention of the Board to use animal power exclusively until the line is finished half way to Drogheda; and even when finished to Drogheda, it is intended that all the goods will be carried by horse power, and in the intermediate hours, when no steam train shall start for Drogheda; that a horse train shall run from Dublin to Malahide, and another from Malahide to Dublin, as this division of the line must be supplied with extra means for its own peculiar traffic, which will not be required on the rest of the line.

Report to the Proprietors of the Dublin and Drogheda Railway in The Railway Magazine; and Annals of Science No XXVI April 1838

Costs on the Royal and the Grand 1843 and 1844

The second half-yearly meeting of the Grand Canal Company in 1844 seems to have been an extended affair. It was adjourned to allow the directors to amend their report on “the state of the company’s works” and, when it reassembled on Saturday 23 November, there was an unusually large attendance and a fractious debate, with several criticisms of the accounts and their “ambiguity and unintelligible nature”. The inconclusive meeting was eventually adjourned until 14 December, to allow proprietors [shareholders] to examine the accounts.

Amongst the critics of the directors was Mr H Bruce, who was unhappy with several aspects of the management of the company, one of them the extravagance of the directors. He said

He had taken the trouble of comparing the Grand Canal with the Royal Canal Company for two consecutive years, and he would give the meeting the result of that comparison.

Here are the elements of that comparison in tabular format.

Those with a keen interest in the Royal Canal Company will no doubt have been surprised to find its management being complimented for anything, but the comparison is interesting even if, as Sir John Kingston James pointed out, the Royal Canal Company had fewer [passenger-carrying] boats “and consequently they had to pay less for horse power”: it would have been fairer to compare the costs per mile.

On repairs, Mr Bruce said that

Every one knew that the Royal Canal was a much more perishable canal than the Grand Canal, for instead of being excavated, a great part of it was built. No canal was more liable to the danger of an outbreak on the country, and of being bored through, than the Royal Canal, consequently it required more money to keep it in repair than the Grand Canal […]. Yet, what was the amount charged for repairing the Royal Canal in 1844, though in that year a serious breach took place in it? — why, only £1869.

Note that salaries cost considerably more than did the boat crews and that horse contracts, for hauling the boats, were about four times the cost of masters and crew on the Grand and aboout six times that cost on the Royal.

Dublin Evening Post 26 November 1844

Spencer Harbour

Excellent article about the Lough Allen Clay Company on the Dromahair Heritage website, though the schoolboy speculation on the naming of the harbour is not, I think, to be relied upon: the fifth Earl Spencer, twice Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, is I think the source of the name.

h/t COM for the link

Jamestown and the Longford

Jamestown [Co Leitrim] Heritage Festival starts on Friday 25 May and runs until Sunday 3 June 2018. The programme is here.

Apart from the presence of numerous barges and other vessels, the festival will feature these events of historical interest:

  • Saturday 26 May: talk by Alf Monaghan on Doon to Diesel, a review of the importance of Drumsna and Jamestown in Transport History
  • Sunday 27 May: talk on the sinking of the Royal Canal passage-boat Longford [in which fifteen people died] in 1845
  • Monday 28 May: bus trip to Arigna Mining Experience
  • Tuesday 29 May: talk by Alf Monaghan on Monastic Ireland — a gift from the Nile and display by Carrick-on-Shannon Historical Society
  • Wednesday 30 May: walking tour of Jamestown led by historian Mary Butler
  • Saturday 2 June: talk by Donal Boland on The Shannon’s hidden locations and gems and, in the afternoon, “traditional method demonstrations”.

 

Railway archaeology

Ewan Duffy’s chapter “Royal Canal bridges in Dublin”, in The Royal under the Railway: Ireland’s Royal Canal 1830–1899 [Railway & Canal Historical Society, Derby 2014], drew attention to the hitherto neglected effects of the Midland Great Western Railway’s ownership on the physical structures along the Royal Canal in Dublin.

Ewan’s latest venture is a Railway Archaeology of Ireland, which he is publishing online, at the rate of one chapter per week. The introduction and Chapter 1 are now available. The focus is on “railway-related architectural and engineering structures”, not on trains or rolling stock.

It is possible to sign up to an RSS feed and thus get notified automatically when new chapters appear.

 

State of trade on the River Suir [1842]

People who read this will hardly believe that such a state of things, as it details, can exist in any portion of the British dominions; and yet, in the year 1842, undoubtedly in Ireland, and in Ireland only, can we find such facts — positive facts.

It is still more surprising to find that this extraordinary state of things should exist on a river on which a very considerable export and import trade passes — and yet so it is.

A fair challenge to the Chambers of Commerce of Clonmel and Waterford is now given. Let them deny the following data, if they can, seriatim, honestly and plainly:—

  1. That the boat trade between Clonmel and Waterford is in the hands of so few persons that it is, in truth and fact, a monopoly to all intents and purposes.
  2. That those corn factors, who export their produce by these boats, are allowed to import coal, iron, timber, groceries, or other goods, at a lower rate of freight than merchants or shopkeepers, who only import those articles, and do not export.
  3. That combination exists amongst the boatmen to such an extent, that they are, in point of fact and truth, the masters of the river, and have in reality succeeded in their “strikes”.
  4. That only a certain fixed number of boats are allowed to ply on the river, and that when a new boat is built, part of an old boat must be worked up into the new one.
  5. That although great improvements have been effected at Carrick in deepening the river, and thus bringing up vessels to the new quay there, the boatmen of Clonmel and Carrick will not navigate any boats from Clonmel which are to ship their cargoes at Carrick, but they insist and do take such boats on to Waterford.
  6. That when the bill for the Limerick and Waterford railway passed, and £100000 was granted in aid — which railway was to pass through Carrick, Clonmel, Caher, and Tipperary — not one merchant in Clonmel took a share.
  7. That the exports of Waterford amount to above two millions annually, a considerable proportion of which is the produce of the vally [sic] of the Suir, and descends that river.
  8. That the state of the river Suir, as a navigation, between Clonmel and Carrick, is the worst in Ireland; that the import trade in these boats is dragged up the river by horses; that great delays take place, to such an extent, that the import trade suffers most considerably, to the detriment of every person in the community.
  9. That the expenses of the towing path &c fall upon the county at large.

Can it then be matter of surprise that, under such circumstances, Ireland is so much behind hand as she is?

Dublin Evening Mail 28 March 1842

Ardnacrusha by train

Here’s an event.

I think that Heuston Station means Kingsbridge.

Crinoline had its full sway

King’s County (from our correspondent)

Pic-nic on the River Shannon

One of the most delightful re-unions of the gentry of this and the adjoining counties that has taken place for many years came off on Tuesday last. The Dublin Steampacket Company kindly placed one of their steamers (the Lady Lansdowne) at the disposal of their respected agent, T F Fleetwood Esq, Banagher.

At an early hour Banagher presented a stirring scene. Carriages and other vehicles arrived in rapid succession with their precious cargoes at the quay, where awaited their arrival this handsome vessel, gaily decorated for the occasion. Here ensued a gay and bustling scene — ladies occupying no small space, gentlemen running to and fro, seeing to the comfort of their charges, while carts laden with all the delicacies of the season were being delivered.

At ten o’clock the signal was given by the captain — steam up, and this joyous company took their departure for Killaloe, the amateur band on board striking up one of its best amidst the plaudits of numerous spectators who had assembled on the quay.

Two o’clock arrived, and with it came the gallant ship to the beach at Killaloe, where the Picnicians landed and repaired to the beautiful grounds and gardens attached to the Palace, where the show and splendour of the flowers can scarcely be surpassed. In this delightful promenade two hours passed as a fleeting minute, when all were summoned once more to meet, as it were, on a marine parade — and, indeed, a happy mustering it was — “roll called”, and nearly one hundred and fifty being present.

Here a knife and fork exercise was created in which all bore a ready and willing part. This being terminated and the deck cleared dancing commenced, and was kept up with great spirit for some time, when tea was announced, and when over dancing was again resumed and enjoyed until ten o’clock, when the handsome bridge at Banagher told that the day was spent; and the spirits of all seemed to sink when the vessel touched the wharf where to land them for their homes. Never was there a more joyous and happy day spent on the waters of the noble Shannon

Spreading forth like the sea

nor its delightful scenery more fully appreciated. All was harmony and good humour — nothing occurred to mar the happiness of the meeting, and everything was so admirably arranged, owing to the indefatigable exertions of Mr and Mrs Fleetwood, combined with the polite attention of the commander of the ship — in fact everything required was to be had in a moment, and no crowding or confusion of any kind, although crinoline had its full sway.

Amongst the company were the following: The High Sheriff, Mrs and the Misses Seymour, Ballymore Castle; Mr James Drought (late High Sheriff) and Mrs Drought; the Misses Eyre, the Castle; The Eyres, Hassop Park; Mrs and Miss Graves, Cloghan Castle; Mr John P Armstrong and Mrs Armstrong, Mr W B Armstrong, Mrs and the Misses Armstrong; Mr and Mrs Rolleston, Miss Rolleston and the Misses Woods; Mr, Mrs and Miss Hill; Colonel, Mrs and Miss Manners, and Miss Sandes; Mrs, the Misses and Mr M’Causland; Captain and the Misses Gascoine, Colonel Eyre, Mr Stradford Eyre, Mr Usher, Messrs and Miss Seymour, Mr John H Moore and family, Mrs Bird and party, Mr and Mrs Owen, and the Misses Horsman; Mr, Mrs and Miss Fleeetwood; Messrs Robinson and Miss Robinson, Mr and Miss Purefoy, Dr Tarleton, Mrs Montgomery and Miss Blake, Rev Mr and Mrs Stavely, the Misses Wetherell; Rev Mr, Mrs and Miss Bell, Miss Good, Dr Barry; Messrs Warren, Stack, Tabiteau &c &c.

Saunders’s News-Letter 8 July 1859