The value of maps

I am currently working on a project, which I hope to unveil on this website by the end of the year and whilst researching for same, I needed to look at the historic OS maps for Northern Ireland online.

Unlike the OSI, the NI historic maps are harder to find (tucked away in a corner of the NI Government web portal) and the user interface is not as user friendly as that of the OSI. However, where the OSNI kicks ass is that multiple versions of the 6″ map for any given area at different time frames are online.

I was aware from my railway studies that there had been a railway station in Coleraine west of the River Bann, which was the eastern terminus of the Londonderry & Coleraine Railway. This subsequently closed after a railway bridge over the Bann was built, allowing trains access to the east side of the river.

Whilst carrying out research for this project, I noticed that the first railway connection to connect the east and west banks of the Bann at Coleraine crossed over the line into this station and therefore would have created either a railway square crossing, or a railway over railway bridge – the former were very rare (2 cases on public railways and another 2 of an industrial railway crossing a public railway) and the latter not that common (about a dozen cases in Ireland of a public railway over a public railway).

Thanks to the OSNI maps on the NI Government Portal, I have been able to determine that this was another example of a railway bridge over a railway that had heretofore escaped my attention.

Unlike the OSI website, it is not possible to link directly to a specific location on the OSNI maps – however, upon accessing the link above, entering in the co-ordinates “284630,432860” in the X-Y coordinates box to the left of the map will bring you to the location in question

75 arches to the Royal Canal

Not that you would necessarily know that they are there.

I am doing the final research and tidying up/proof reading of what I hope will be a publication on the Archaeology of Ireland’s Railways. In doing so, I came across a reference to the railway between Amiens Street (Connolly) Station and the Royal Canal in Dublin being carried on 75 arches, which was due to the fact that the land which the line crossed had only been reclaimed relatively recently at the time the line was built in the 1840s.

The thought struck me, if that area of the city were to be redeveloped for high density residential accommodation, the bringing back into public view of many of those arches would be quite an impressive display. As an example, when the site of the Dublin Gas Company on Barrow Street was redeveloped, a walkway at ground level was provided, which has opened out the arches carrying the former Dublin & Kingstown Railway (now the DART) to public view (see below)


Image from GoogleMaps StreetView.

Update 31072017 – H/T to Brian Goggin of irishwaterwayshistory.com for letting me know about an image which can be viewed online at the National Library of Ireland website which purports to show Dublin as it was in 1853. The railway line from Amiens Street northwards is in the top right of the image. The number of arches shown would appear to be subject to artistic licence and the absence of the Royal Canal makes it difficult to fully compare to the present day situation (the bay crossed at the extreme right of the image is where Fairview Park is now).

A reference book to the Incorporated Railway Companies of Ireland 1847

I started reading this pdf version downloaded from Google (one of the millions that they have scanned) to see if there is any new nugget of information therein.

On the first page it states:

“In 1832, an Act for a line of 25 miles, called the Belfast and Cavehill, was obtained, which changed the title, in 1836, to the Ulster”.

With such a grievous error on the first page, I am not hopeful for the rest of the text.