Tag Archives: railway


Dialogue between an unidentified member of the committee and Colonel John Fox Burgoyne at a hearing of the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the amount of advances made by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland on 1 June 1835:

1899 Are you aware that locomotive engines have gone at a speed of from 15 to 20 miles an hour on common roads? — I think I have gone at one at the rate of 20 miles an hour myself on a common road.

1900 Suppose those carriages were used upon a curb-stone and granite road, and not subject to the interruption of carts and carriages, which occur upon common roads, what speed do you suppose they might fairly be worked at? — Very nearly the speed they go on rail-roads.

1901 If it could be proved that granite or curb-stone roads could be constructed at the rate of from £2000 to £3000 a mile, would you, in the present state of the country, recommend an expense of a sum of six and seven times that amount for a railway? — I do not imagine there would be that difference of expense; the levels would be the same, and the stone-work would be the same; the only difference would be the application or not of the iron railway bars.

Locomotives on common roads? It’ll never work.


In evidence to the Select Committee appointed to inquire into the amount of advances made by the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland on 22 May 1835 James Pim, Treasurer to the Dublin and Kingstown Railway, said:

1431. Can you tell the average length of time which the [horse-drawn] cars took in going [between Dublin and Kingstown/Dun Laoghaire], and the distance? — I should think the average length of time taken by the cars after they got in motion, was probably 45 or 50 minutes, from Dublin to Kingstown.

1432. Are you not able to do it in 11 minutes? — Easily.

I’ve just had a look at the DART website. As far as I can see, the DART takes 19 minutes to travel from Dublin Pearse [Westland Row] to Dun Laoghaire [Kingstown]. Is the difference attributable to the number of stops?

Revising the Royal

Ewan Duffy of IndustrialHeritageIreland and I have both, in recent times, uncovered new information about the history of the Royal Canal after it was taken over by the Midland Great Western Railway in 1845: a period that, because (I think) of the absence of company archives, is not well covered in published histories of the Royal. Ewan today said that he will be posting new material about the stretch from Lock 1 to Lock 5 on 30 March 2013, so watch that space.

Dargan, O’Regan, steam and the Newry Canal

I wrote here about Simon O’Regan’s passenger-carrying screw steamer tried on the Grand Canal in Dublin in 1850. I am grateful to John Ditchfield for pointing me to an article about what happened next: steam trials on the Newry Canal in 1850, but this time with a lumber (freight) boat.

I would welcome more information about Simon O’Regan or about the use of steam power on the Newry Canal.

Newcomen Bridge again

Last month I wrote about the lock at Newcomen Bridge on the Royal Canal:

Industrial Heritage Ireland has created a page giving the history of the railway crossing at Newcomen Bridge. However, it would be nice to have some documentary evidence about the resiting of the lock — and about the headroom under the bridge before the lock was moved.

Here it is, from the Freeman’s Journal of 12 April 1873, in an article about the new Spencer Docks:

Above the new metal bridge there is a basin for Canal boats, with a quayage of 450 feet at either side and a depth of six feet. In connection with the new works, the lowering of Newcomen-bridge on the Clontarf-road must be alluded to. To effect this the old lock had to be moved higher up, and the old bridge replaced by one suited for the requirements of the tramway traffic. The arch of the bridge crossing the Canal was lowered five feet, and a new girder iron bridge crosses the railway at the same level. The Main Drainage Board wisely took advantage of the opportunity of the Canal being drained to make a main sewer under the canal and the railway above Newcomen-bridge at the low level required.

Happy, Mick?

One for the Phizzers

Quite a few visitors to this site come to read about the Broadstone. Here is a piece about the pontoon bridge used at the Broadstone between (AFAIK) 1847 and 1877. It was designed by Robert Mallet and it is interesting to see how an inventive engineer solved the peculiar problems of the Broadstone site.

Stakhanovite homoeroticism

I see in the blatts — well, the Sunday Business Post, actually, although I do realise that other newspapers are read in the servants’ hall — that the Twelfth Lock Hotel at Blanchardstown, on the Royal Canal, is to be sold by public tender on 1 March 2012. No estate agent — the only contact details are for a solicitor and a FRICS FRICI, which means a surveyor (I think) — so there is nothing on tinterweb.

The Twelfth Lock Hotel

The hotel is described thus:

Unique Hotel Opportunity

‘THE TWELFTH LOCK HOTEL’, Castleknock Marina, Royal Canal, Castleknock

Purpose built, 10 Bedroom Hotel, with Loune Bar/Restaurant, private Lounge, Beergarden/Smoking Patio, outer garden and private car park. In unique setting alongside the picturesque Royal Canal Marina.

Older folk will note the link to this story.

I stayed in the hotel once; it was fine. I’ve been in the bar a few times, and noted three things. The first was a range of beers that was wider and better than most Irish pubs serve (which is admittedly not saying much). The second was that the bar food was tasty and served in generous quantities. The third was the mural (I’ve cropped the lower part of the photo to omit the customers) of chaps building the canal.

Twelfth Lock Hotel mural

The hotel is in a wonderful location, off a quiet road but close to the railway, the M50 motorway and the Wonderful O of the junction with the Royal Canal crossing in the middle.

Crossing the Wonderful O


Boat descending the twelfth lock (a double). The building on the left at the top is the hotel


Across the canal are flats is where the Blanchardstown Mills stood; the site has unsuspected depths.


I don’t really know the status of the “marina”. It seems to consist of a short run of pontoons with gated access. I think it’s a good idea to have such an arrangement; perhaps something similar could be done on the Grand Canal.

The marina (2005)

The marina (2009)


But who runs it and controls the allocation of spaces? I don’t know: although the gateway seems to have Waterways Ireland branding, there is also this sign:

Castleknock Marina sign

Its website doesn’t seem to have changed much for several years and the “How goes it” page, showing progress in raising funding, doesn’t seem to work. There is a hire firm too.

Hire firm

It would be nice if the hotel, marina and hire firm were to continue in operation.





The Irish Times of 25 August 2011 has news of the Fry Model Railway.

Fry’s Irish delight

Railway heads may wish to boogie on over to this site to look at a fifteen-minute video of the Fry Model Railway, which is to be evicted from its home at Malahide Castle.

The National Museum thinks saving the Fry isn’t really quite its sort of thing; no doubt it’s busy with its collection of frocks. It appears to possess one model steam railway locomotive; it has no steam engine, no diesel engine, but lots of stamps and coins.

The Fry includes some waterways items.


Suir railway

If George Stephenson, Father of Railways, had had his way, you would have been able to travel from Carrick-on-Suir to Waterford by river – but in a railway carriage. Read about it here.