Category Archives: Safety

Float Bridge

I have added some information to the post The Avarice of the Ferryman about Float Bridge. The Comments too contain useful points.

Up the Inny

The navigation of the River Inny from Ballynacarrow upriver to Lough Sheelin.

The Avarice of the Ferryman

Castlepollard, Sept 11. Last Week the following Accident happened at the Ferry, or Float, plying for Passengers over the River Inny, in the County of Westmeath: — A Post-Chaise and Four, with a Lady and Gentleman, were imprudently put upon this dangerous Conveyance, without separating the Cattle from the Carriage; unfortunately a Car and Horse had been put in before them, which, with the Post-Chaise and Horses, occupied the full Length of the Float.

On the Passage, the Car Horse grew very uneasy, and going back, the Car annoyed the Post-Chaise Horses, which occasioned them to back in like Manner, until the Post-Chaise fell into the River, and dragged the Horses after it; three of the Horses were drowned, being entangled with the Harness; the other broke through his Harness, and swam over to a boggy Place, but could not get upon Land; one of the men followed him in a small Boat, to lead him to a proper landing Place, but not being able alone to guide the Horse and row the Boat, the Horse got too near it, and striking it with one of his Feet, overset and sank it, by which the Man was drowned; the Horse then swam, and was saved.

It was very lucky for the Lady and Gentleman that they alighted from the Chaise at going into the Float. The Carriage, which belonged to the Gentleman, was got out with much difficulty; the Horses were Hacks. The Avarice of the Ferryman occasioned this melancholy Accident.

Hibernian Journal; or, Chronicle of Liberty
18 September 1775

 

 

That report came just about a year after this next one.

Good shot wanted

FERRY-BRIDGE, over the River Inny, between the County of Westmeath and Longford, 3 miles from Castlepollard, 12 miles from Mullingar and Longford, Sept 1st, 1774. Complaint having been made, that the Smallness of the Float rendered it inconvenient, and occasioned timorous People to drive or ride many Miles round to avoid the Ferry, the Proprietor therefore has undertaken to build a Bridge at his own Expence, which will be finished with all convenient Speed; in the mean Time, a Part of the intended Bridge, above 30 Feet long, Battlements fixed on each Side, properly gravelled over &c, will be made Use of to ferry over Carriages, &c. A Coach and four may now pass with the utmost Safety, without taking off the Horses, or 20 Head of Cattle, &c in less than 2 Minutes; and, to accommodate Graziers and others, as soon as said Bridge is compleated, Droves of large Cattle, above 30 in Number, will be passed over at the Rate of a British Shilling per Score, private Soldiers with Furlows from their Commanding Officers, in Time, gratis, all other Passengers, Cattle, &c at the usual Rates taken above these 20 Years.

This Road is now in good Repair, and well known to be many Miles nearer from Dublin to the County of Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon, Sligo, Mayo, &c than any other Road; a commodious Inn, near Ferry-bridge, on the Westmeath Side, is building, and a Carriers Inn on the Longford Side, will be both soon finished, and proper People to keep them.

Wanted, to take Care of said Bridge when finished, and to collect the Toll, &c a sober, honest, careful, active, middle-aged, single Man; he must be a Protestant, write a good Hand, and if a good Shot, and understands fishing in Lakes and Rivers, and delights in those Amusements, it will be more agreeable &c. Comfortable Lodging and Board, and not less than £12 per Ann will be made good to the Person approved of, and shall be treated (as far as can be reasonably expected) agreeable to his former Manner of Life. None need apply but such as have an undeniable good Character, as to Honesty and Sobriety, from his former Employers or Neighbours. Inquire of the Printer hereof.

Saunders’s News-Letter
2, 7, 9, 12, 14 September 1774

Sir Thomas Chapman

The Dublin Evening Post of 9 August 1810 advertised part of the Meath and Westmeath estates of Sir Thomas Chapman Bart to be let. They included

The Tolls of the Float near Castlepollard
And an excellent house and fifty acres of land

Applications were to be sent to Sir Thomas at St Lucy’s, Athboy, or to Mr High Dickison at the same address.

St Lucy’s was also known as Killua Castle, set of the Chapman baronets, of whom Sir Thomas was the second. Do be sure to read about the seventh baronet.

 

Maps

Many thanks to the learned Eoin C Bairéad for the information that the good people at logainm.ie have scanned many old maps, and other documents, and made them available here, free of charge. They include maps of counties bordering the Shannon, Murdoch Mackenzie’s 1775 chart of the Shannon Estuary (with some soundings) and Mackenzie’s Views of the West Coast of Ireland.

Note: some of the files are very large.

 

Bang

The inhabitants of this city [Dublin] were greatly alarmed yesterday evening, between the hours of four and five, by a most violent concussion of the air, which broke several panes of glass, cracked others, and shook houses to the foundation in an unusual manner, accompanied by a very loud explosion. In the country parts adjacent to the city, the fears of the people led them to imagine that there had been a shock of an earthquake — but the cause proves to have been the explosion of two boats, that were coming down the Grand Canal, freighted with gunpowder from Counsellor Caldbeck’s powder-mills at Clondalklin.

Many lives it was reported were lost; but we can assure the public, from the best authority, that no more than two men were killed, and five or six slightly wounded. The loss from the gunpowder is not estimated to be very great.

It is not as yet ascertained through what manner the fire was suffered to communicate to the powder. It was said that it was from one of the hands having dropped some blazing tobacco from a pipe which he was smoking, but for that there appears no foundation.

Dublin Evening Post 24 April 1787

Tories on the Barrow and the Shannon

I read here that Olivia O’Leary, who chairs a Save the Barrow Line committee, says that the Barrow Line (trackway or towing-path)

[…] is a natural amenity and should be maintained as it is.

It isn’t. It is an entirely artificial creation, built to enable the use of horses to tow boats. Any geraniums, beetles, butterflies or tweetie-birds using it are interlopers, squatters and trespassers and should be paying rent; at the very least they should take second place to humans.

The Grand Canal Company often complained about the poor quality of the Barrow trackway: the surface was not up to the job. If it is to cater for more users, it may well need to be improved. That is an engineering decision on which I am not competent to pronounce but, as the Barrow is pretty well a dead loss for long-distance cruising by larger boats, it needs to be redesigned for walkers, cyclists and canoeists.

But at least the Barrow NIMBYs are prepared to accept more boats. Dr William O’Connor of the Old River Shannon Research Group writes about the Shannon here, complaining about the small number of “garish canoes” that occasionally travel downstream from Castleconnell to Clareville. Dr O’Connor asks

[…] why has it become a free-for-all for canoeists?

The answer is that there is a right to navigate, as I pointed out here (with an addendum here): I have had no response from the ESB so, while being open to correction, I maintain my position. Anglers may believe that their interests are paramount on that stretch of the Shannon: I disagree. Of course I would be all in favour of discussions between anglers, kayakers, dog-walkers and other users (even environmentalists), but such discussions cannot be based on a presumption that one group has all the rights, or that one activity is of supreme importance, and that the rest are secondary.

For some reason, canoes operated by commercial providers are particularly to be condemned, although it is not clear how salmon and lampreys can distinguish between public-sector, private-sector and voluntary-sector canoes — or whether they would be bothered anyway: Dr William O’Connor says

It is noted that there has been little scientific research on the ecological impact of canoeing.

In other words, there is no reason to believe that there is any basis for the concerns expressed by Dr O’Connor or by various anglers.

More broadly, though, the common factor on the Shannon and the Barrow is that existing users of public facilities are resisting new or expanded uses and seeking to protect their privileges. Irish Toryism is alive and well.

Addendum: this is probably the solution to the salmon problem.

Boarding in Limerick

On the morning of the day on which I left Limerick, a truly melancholy and fatal accident occurred. Just as the steamer which starts every morning for Kilrush and Kilkee, was in the act of leaving the quay, a car was seen to approach very rapidly to the station, from which the vessel had just begun to move. Planks are not used at these quays, the water being sufficiently deep to admit of the steamer lying so close as to enable the passengers to step off from the quay on board the vessel.

A fine young man jumped off the car, and took a female who was on the opposite side in his arms, and ran with her to the packet, and had just succeeded in placing her feet in the side of the boat. In order to get her safely aboard he had to push her forward, and by this means accomplished the object he had in view. But alas! in achieving so much for her, he lost himself; for at this moment the packet moved off, and it became impossible for him to reach her; while the efforts he had previously made to get the lady on board occasioned him to stretch so far forward that it was equally impossible for him to recover his upright position on the quay. The consequence was that he fell between the quay and the steamer, and, as it was supposed, was struck by a revolution of the paddle, for he never rose.

What must have been the feelings of the poor female in witnessing the sudden and melancholy death of her gallant preserver? She was in delicate health, and was about to proceed to Kilkee for the benefit of sea-bathing, when this awfully heartrending event took place, which deprived her of him who was her darling and her pride; for alas! he was her son.

Thomas Lacy Home Sketches, on both sides of the channel, being a diary Hamilton, Adams, & Co, London; W H Smith & Co, London; McGlashan, Dublin, 1852

Date of event (deduced) Wednesday 28 August 1850

Royal towpath Clonsilla

Visiting the Royal Canal at Clonsilla recently, I noted some interesting features of the canal’s stonework. I do not know how old they are or what they were for; I would welcome information from readers.

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Clonsilla (Callaghan) canal bridge in the foreground; a railway signal box behind it

The towpath crossed from the south to the north bank at Porterstown (Kennan) Bridge, just east of this one. The passage boat Longford sank in 1845 between these two bridges; fifteen people died.

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Looking west from the bridge

Clonsilla (Callaghan) Bridge (OSI ~1900)

Clonsilla (Callaghan) Bridge (OSI ~1900)

The Ordnance Survey of Ireland 25″ map of around 1900 shows what looks like a ramp leading up from the towpath, on the east side, to the level of the bridge and the road; the earlier 6″ map (late 1820s to 1840s) is less clear and I cannot tell whether the ramp existed then. However, the recent photograph, taken from the bridge, does suggest that the wing wall of the ramp has been built up, with newer stone, and that much of the area of the ramp has been taken in to the gardens above. This, of course, is speculation on my part and I would welcome clarification (leave a Comment below).

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Built-up wall

Note what looks like a very tall gate pillar half way along. I don’t know much about architecture or construction, but the fact that the canal side is vertical makes it look to me more like a gate pillar than a supporting buttress for the wall of the ramp.

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The eastern pillar from the towpath

Here’s a close-up. You can also see what looks like the dividing line between the older stone of the ramp, which slopes away from the towpath, and what I assume to be newer stone, built vertically, integrating part of the ramp (presumably with infill) with the garden above.

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The eastern pillar from the towpath (close-up)

Here it is looking eastward (away from the bridge).

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Looking eastward

There is a similar structure on the west side of the bridge.

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The west side of the bridge with a pedestrian bridge beside it; the railway station is on the right

Here is what looks like the remains of a similar gate pillar.

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Western pillar (looking west)

Note the vertical face of the pillar against the slope of stones on the embankment,

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Vertical face (with missing stones)

These pillars may have some engineering significance in holding up the embankment, but I wonder whether they might have been used to hang gates closing off access to the towpath for some reason. I don’t know whether other bridges have similar arrangements.

Waterways Ireland commissioned a Heritage Survey of the Royal Canal, which is available here [PDF], but that document does not contain any of the details and, judging by WI’s Heritage Surveys page, it does not seem that the “detailed database report” on the Royal will be made available on the WI website. Accordingly, I do not know what the survey says about these pillars.

All information welcome.

Addendum December 2016

Peter Clarke, in The Royal Canal: the complete story Elo Publications, Dublin 1992, points out that, in 1807, there was a passenger service from Dublin to Clonsilla: the six miles cost 1/7½ in first and 1/1 in second class.

Could it be that the passenger station was under the bridge, with access controlled by gates at either end? Horses could have been changed too, with the ramp providing access for horses to the road. Passengers too could use the ramps, but horses could not use steps. And, as modern canal users will attest, it is always easier to embark and disembark passengers under bridges, where there is deep water at the edge and where the boat does not have to go off its course.

If that is so, there might be similar stonework at the other passenger stations that were located at bridges rather than at harbours. There would be traces of gate pillars at either side of a bridge. Ramps would be required only where the canal bank’s level was significantly above or below that of the road.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

A one-act history of a bridge

The Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Act 1963 No 1/1963 (Private), in its preamble, gives the history of the swivelling section of the Wellesley (now Sarsfield) Bridge in Limerick.

THE LIMERICK HARBOUR (BRIDGE) ACT, 1963

Skipping some of the formalities …

WHEREAS by a local and personal Act of 1823 entitled “An Act for the erection of a bridge across the River Shannon and of a floating dock to accommodate sharp vessels frequenting the port of Limerick” the Limerick Bridge Commissioners were incorporated for the purpose of erecting such bridge and floating dock;

A swivel bridge was required …

AND WHEREAS to the intent that the navigation of the River Shannon might receive no prejudice it was provided by the said Act of 1823 that the bridge so to be erected or built under the authority of the said Act should be so constructed and built as that there should remain a free and open passage for ships and vessels to pass up and down the said river on the south side or end of the said bridge through, at, or near the said bridge; and that for such purpose there should be on the said bridge so to be built or on the bank immediately adjoining the south end thereof one or more swivel bridge or drawbridge or bridges so as to admit of vessels passing up and down the said river near the south bank thereof from the parts thereof above the said bridge to the parts thereof below the said bridge and the contrary;

Wellesley Bridge (OSI ~1840)

Wellesley Bridge (OSI ~1840)

AND WHEREAS the said bridge (then known by the name of “the Wellesley Bridge” and now known as “Sarsfield Bridge”) and a swivel bridge in connection therewith were in pursuance of the said Act erected in or about the year 1825;

Control passed to the Harbour Commissioners in 1883

AND WHEREAS by virtue of an order of the Commissioners of Public Works bearing the date the 22nd day of March 1883 and made in pursuance of the provisions of the Wellesley Bridge (Limerick) Act, 1882 and of such provisions the said swivel bridge and the approaches thereto by water were vested in the Limerick Harbour Commissioners (in this Act called the Commissioners) for the use of the public and it was the duty of the Commissioners to maintain the same in good repair and condition and to work the same in such manner as to afford adequate accommodation to shipping and persons using the said bridge;

AND WHEREAS by an Act entitled “The Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Act, 1913” the Commissioners were authorised to make and maintain a new swivel bridge and approaches for vehicular and pedestrian traffic across the River Shannon in substitution for the said swivel bridge and the said Act provided that all powers rights duties and liabilities enjoyed by or imposed on the Commissioners at the date of the passing of the Act in connection with or in anywise concerning the swivel bridge or the approaches thereto by road or by water or the works in connection therewith and all byelaws in force at said date should be deemed to apply and should apply to the new swivel bridge and the approaches thereto and the works in connection therewith;

A new swivel section was built in 1923 …

AND WHEREAS the said new swivel bridge was in pursuance of the last recited Act erected in or about the year 1923 and has been since and still is in use;

The formerly swivelling section

The formerly swivelling section

AND WHEREAS up to and including the 8th day of February 1927 the said new swivel bridge was from time to time opened by the Commissioners for the purpose of enabling ships and vessels to pass up and down the River Shannon to and from two quays on the east side of the bridge known as Honan’s Quay and McGuire’s Quay;

… but never opened after 1927

AND WHEREAS the new swivel bridge has not been opened for the passage of a ship or vessel since the month of February 1927;

AND WHEREAS Sarsfield Bridge and the new swivel bridge carry the main stream of vehicular traffic across the River Shannon to and from Shannon Airport and to and from the West of Ireland and the traffic by road over the new swivel bridge has increased greatly;

AND WHEREAS the opening of the said swivel bridge would cause a serious disruption of such traffic by road and pedestrian traffic;

Opening it would be a nuisance

AND WHEREAS it is expedient in the interests of the public travelling by road that the Commissioners should be relieved of their duty to open the said new swivel bridge for the passage of ships and vessels;

AND WHEREAS the purposes of this Act cannot be effected without the authority of the Oireachtas.

So the Commissioners don’t have to do it any more

Interpretation.

1.—In this Act unless the subject or context otherwise requires:—

the expression “the Commissioners” means the Limerick Harbour Commissioners;

the expression “the new swivel bridge” means the swivel bridge authorised by the Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Act, 1913.

Restriction of Commissioners’ liability in respect of swivel bridge.

2.—From and after the passing of this Act and notwithstanding anything contained in any other Act the Commissioners shall not be under any liability to open the new swivel bridge for the passage of ships or vessels or to maintain or repair the said swivel bridge in such a manner as to render the same capable of being opened.

Compensation.

3.—(1) Where this Act has the effect of curtailing or terminating a legal right of any person (including, in particular, a right of navigation, whether or not conferred by statute), such person may, within twelve months after the passing of this Act, make to the Commissioners a claim for compensation in respect of such curtailment or termination and he shall be entitled to be paid compensation therefor by the Commissioners and, in default of being paid such compensation when the amount thereof has been agreed upon or has been determined under this section, to recover it from the Commissioners in any court of competent jurisdiction.

(2) In default of agreement, the amount of any compensation payable by the Commissioners under this section shall be determined by arbitration under the Acquisition of Land (Assessment of Compensation) Act, 1919 (as amended by subsequent enactments) as if the compensation were the price of land compulsorily acquired and the arbitrator shall have jurisdiction to determine whether compensation is, in the circumstances, payable at all.

(3) Such compensation shall be paid by the Commissioners out of any moneys for the time being in their hands.

Expenses.

4.—All costs, charges and expenses preliminary to and of and incidental to the preparing, applying for and passing of this Act or otherwise in relation thereto shall be paid by the Commissioners out of any monies for the time being in their hands.

Short title and collective citation.

5.—(1) This Act may be cited as the Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Act, 1963.

(2) This Act, the Wellesley Bridge (Limerick) Act, 1882, the Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Act, 1913 and the Act 4 George IV Cap XCIV may be cited together as the Limerick Harbour (Bridge) Acts, 1823-1963.

I wonder whether anyone got compensation.

My OSI logo and permit number for website

 

The Ohio River

His tow, like most, was 105 feet wide. The lock chamber is 110 feet wide. To park his 1,130-foot, 19,200-ton craft, he had as much space as a car does in a crowded parking lot.

From a fascinating piece on the New York Times website about two ageing locks on the Ohio and the traffic that passes through them.

h/t Alex Tabarrok on Marginal Revolution