Tag Archives: Commissioners of Public Works

The Corrib dredger

Drainage and Navigation Works: Construction of dredging machinery

The Commissioners having authorized the purchase of one of the iron dredgers used in the execution of the Shannon works, and then on that river at Athlone, the operation of removing her to Galway was commenced on 1st of March.

This was effected by first clearing her of all machinery, and then cutting up the hull or shell into pieces suited for carriage by land, in which manner every portion of her was removed to Galway.

In reconstructing this boat, considerable improvement and thorough repairs have been effected. A flat iron plate, three-fourths of an inch thick, has been substituted for the hollow iron keel, which lightens her draft of water five inches without any diminution of her steadiness, and an alteration of the position of the steam-pipes has been judiciously arranged. The keelsons were pieced, and whenever any materials were unsound they have been replaced.

The time occupied in the breaking up, transfer, and reconstruction of this dreder, weighing 200 tons, was five months and eleven days, and the whole work was executed at a cost of £803/8/11.

Four scows or decked barges have been constructed for the conveyance of the material raised by the dredger to spoil. Two of these boats are capable of carrying 30 tons, and the other two 45 tons.

Extract from the Annual Report of Mr S U Roberts CE, District Engineer for the year 1851 in Twentieth Report of the Commissioners of Public Works 1852

The Exchequer Bill Loan Commission

I noted the other day that the North South Ministerial Council’s inland waterways meeting discussed how it might get the Irish government off the hook of its rash promise to fund the Clones Sheugh. It noted that:

[…] sponsor departments have agreed to examine the potential social benefits and leveraged funding opportunities in that context.

The interesting point is that the blasted thing wonderful investment opportunity was originally funded, using the same excuse, by a loan from the Exchequer Bill Loan Commission set up under the Poor Employment Act 1817. John Strettell Brickwood, Secretary to the Exchequer Loan Commissioners for Public Works [sic], said* that the Commission’s first £1.5 million was allocated in 1817 and that by 1835 £5.5 million had been advanced.

Of that, £200,000 (at 3¼% interest) was allocated to Ireland in 1827 and the Ulster Canal was allocated £120,000 of that; it drew down £40,000 in 1833 and the same again in 1835. Mr Blackwood said that the Ulster Canal money was issued under an express act of parliament, leaving the commissioners no discretion. There would be no repayment until the canal was complete, with the interest and principal payable only from the prospective income.

Isn’t economic development wonderful?

First and Second Reports from the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the amount of advances made by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland with the Minutes of Evidence, Appendix and Index Ordered, by the House of Commons, to be Printed, 26 June and 27 August 1835