Harry Warren profiles civil engineer Bindon Blood Stoney, who designed a large dredging plant and rebuilt the quay walls along both the north and south banks of the River Liffey, replacing the tidal berths with deepwater berths. He was also consultant engineer on the harbours of Drogheda, Bray, Wicklow, Arklow, Wexford, Waterford, Kilmore, Queenstown (Cobh), Cork, Galway, Westport, Ballina, and Sligo.
Strolling along Dublin’s Docklands, especially if like me, you are of a certain age, it’s hard not to notice that the city’s quays have changed so much that today it can be hard to recognise them.
The once bustling warehouses and quaysides filled with dockers offloading ships moored along the Liffey have been replaced by modern office buildings and gleaming towers housing some of the world’s largest internet-based companies, like Google and Facebook.
In my mind’s eye I can still see the reflection of the Guinness ships in the River Liffey’s water, the Lady Grania, Lady Patricia, Lady Gwendolen and Miranda, all of them named after a member of the Guinness family.
Dublin’s Docklands is peppered with historic sites, like the now dwarfed by its neighbours, six-storey warehouse building of Boland’s Mills that once played a major role during the 1916 Rising. Boland’s was seized by members of the 3rd Battalion of the Irish Volunteers led by Éamon De Valera as it was strategically important with so many transport links in the area.
Standing along the North Wall Quays and looking across the opposite side of the river Liffey, I often noticed what I incorrectly thought was the remains of an industrial chimney of some sort on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.
On closer inspection it is an amazing piece of Dublin’s and Ireland’s industrial maritime heritage and its story should be told.
The orange painted Dublin Diving Bell was used in the building of Dublin Port and its quays and walls. It is a remarkable feat of Irish engineering. The bell was designed by a brilliant Victorian engineer with the wonderful name of Bindon Blood Stoney and it was constructed by Grendon and Co. in Drogheda.
It went into operation in 1871 and was used in the building and maintenance of Dublin Port and the Port’s quay walls right up until 1958.
Bindon Blood Stoney was a superb engineer, not only did he design the Diving Bell and its associated equipment, he also engineered the Boyne Viaduct in Drogheda. Stoney directed the design and renewal of two major bridges across the river Liffey, namely Grattan Bridge and O’Connell Bridge (then Carlisle bridge) and 7,000ft of quay walls including Sir John Rogerson’s Quay and the North Wall Quay Extension. Stoney became Chief Engineer at Dublin Port in 1867 and his engineering expertise transformed the port.