Tag Archives: James’s Street

Developments in lock design

A model for a Canal Lock of a very ingenious and curious construction, has lately been presented to the Company of Undertakers of the Grand Canal, by an artist in this city [Dublin], having among some other improvements on the old locks the following remarkable ones:

  1. That of raising or falling a boat from a level of sixty feet by a single lock.
  2. That of obviating, by a single contrivance, the waste of water, so that at the passage of any boat through it, more than nine-tenths of the water will be retained for the next occasion: this lock will therefore not require a sixth part of the water now expended in the smallest lock on the navigation.

The model is now in complete order at the Navigation House, and was particularly intended by the inventor to answer the great fall from the level of the Canal at James’s-street to the river Liffey; an object not yet fully determined upon by the Company, which Company has, however, as a token of its approbation of so very ingenious a contrivance, presented the inventor with twenty guineas, and should his plan be ever executed by them, there is no doubt but he will be rewarded according to his merit.

Saunders’s News-Letter
12 September 1787

GCC inspection launch

Under the heading


the Irish Times reported, on 21 December 1909, on the trials of a launch newly built by the Grand Canal Company in their own docks at James’s Street Harbour.

The launch was 40′ long and 6½’ wide, screw propelled and driven by a Daimler 12-15 hp petrol engine. This engine was placed in the forward part of the launch

… and is worked in the manner which is usual with road motor cars: the driver or steersman sitting at the wheel having a clear view ahead.

That part of the launch was open; in the centre was a “deck-house or saloon, constructed principally of teak wood”. Aft of that was another open area. The launch could carry 20 people.

The saloon had “a sliding weatherproof door at the fore end, and two removable swing doors in the aft end”. It was lit by electric lamps and had cushioned seats at each side, with storage lockers underneath. A “table of novel design” was lowered from the ceiling when required, then pushed back up to leave a clear passage through the saloon. The launch, which was fitted up very tastefully, and

… the creditable manner in which the work of turning out the launch as a whole has been accomplished reflects great credit on the company’s workmen, and promises well for the future of local industries.

The trials were attended by the GCC General Manager George Tough and its Engineer Harry Wayte. The launch left James’s Street at 10.30am for Ringsend, travelled up the Liffey to Kingsbridge and back down again, before going out into Dublin Bay two miles beyond the Poolbeg lighthouse. On a measured mile in the Liffey, between the Pigeon House and the lighthouse, she managed 12 mph against the tide. She returned to James’s Street Harbour after arousing “considerable interest amongst spectators along the route”.

The launch was intended as “an officers’ inspection boat, to travel all over the company’s extensive system” of waterways routes.

The boat in every respect worked very satisfactorily, and reflected great credit on its designers. […] The success which has attended this experiment may lead to the establishment of fast or express goods boats all over the system.

I had not been aware of the existence of a GCC inspection launch later than the gondola of 1795. I would be glad of information from anyone who knows more about it: please leave a Comment below if you can help.

From the BNA


A superb boat or gondola has been recently finished at the Grand Canal, and is painted and decorated in a most elegant manner. It is of a smaller size than the packet boats, and intended for convenience or pleasure of the directors of that great national and useful undertaking, in order to make occasional excursions therein on the different lines of that navigation — it now lies in one of the harbours near the city Bason.

Saunders’s News-Letter 20 April 1795

The elegant gondola which we mentioned to be lying at the Canal Harbour, and to be intended for the use of the Directors, we learn is not for the use of those Gentlemen, but to carry passengers from and to Portobello, to and from the first lock to meet the passage-boats (as lately advertised) and to gratify with a short voyage on the Canal, from Portobello to James’s-street Harbour, such persons as, having no call of business or pleasure towards the county of Kildare, have not otherwise an opportunity of enjoying that gratification, which latter use of the boat is now making by many persons every fine day.

Saunders’s News-Letter 23 April 1795

From the British Newspaper Archive run by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited, in partnership with the British Library.

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]

The abandoned line of the Grand Canal to James’s St Harbour

I have put up four pages covering the Main Line of the Irish Grand Canal from Suir Road to the original terminus at Grand Canal Harbour, James’s Street. This account covers Guinness and Dublin’s water supply as well as the line of the canal. There are some photos of trams and of the 1′ 10″ gauge Guinness locomotives for Steam Men. Page 1 of 4 is here.