The Irish Examiner have a series of articles on their website in connection with the 100th anniversary of the Ford motor company in Ireland, some of which may be of interest to readers of this site.
The original mainline of the Grand Canal ran to Grand Canal Harbour, near the Guiness Brewery, in Dublin. What is nowadays the canal from Suir Road to the River Liffey at Grand Canal Dock was an afterthought. Since 2004, most of the bed of the former mainline from Suir Road eastwards has been occupied by the Red LUAS Line.
Adjacent to the bridge over the LUAS (canalbed) at Rialto, recent cutting back of adjacent overgrowth has revealed these two sets of steps from what would have been the towpath down to canal level.
Second (and last) day of my trip to Brussels as I fly home tomorrow. I visited the railway museum and the museum of mills and food.
As these are on the outer edge of Brussels, I checked out the public transport options, especially as there is both a railway station and tram terminus at the railway museum. The options appeared straight forward. There is a train station near the hotel at which I could buy the all day ticket and get a train to the railway museum. This would also allow me to use the tram back. The theory turned out better than the practice. At the train station, the ticket machine would not sell an all day pass unless you had the Brussels equivalent of the Leap card. The company’s website advised that a paper card version can be bought at railway stations, but no dice.
From the station, I walked to the tram route in order to see could I do the journey the other way around. The tram system in Brussels is effectively a bus on rails and the LUAS is world class in comparison. The tram “stations” are effectively bus stops with no option to buy a ticket and the trams run down the centre of the road with no platforms – passengers have to dodge road traffic to get between the bus stop shelter and the tram. This is how the Dublin city tram operated in the early 20th century, or in other words, Brussels trams are 100 years behind Dublin. As I couldn’t locate a tram stop with a ticket machine, I ended up walking to the railway museum.
The museum is interesting but its name “TrainWorld” gives away its main focus, which is trains and not railways. Most who know me know that the reason I have a site devoted to industrial heritage is that I have an interest in railways, but not trains. As such, Train World had less to offer me than might be otherwise expected.
The museum starts off in the original Schaerbeek station building with a display of scale models of Belgian steam locomotives. At the side of this hall, there is an example of an original ticket office with wood panelling and the windows through which tickets were sold. Behind these in the museum are further displays on tickets and staff uniforms.
A modern building adjacent has further exhibits, including original locomotives and carriages and a glass covered section of track to walk along, which ends at a screen showing a video taken from a locomotive cab, to give an impression of heading along the track. There is also a display of track types here.
Hall 2 is called the “Railway Attic” and contains a wide range of artifacts that didn’t fit in anywhere else in the museum. There is also a locomotive embedded in a sandpit at 45 degrees, the exact purpose of which I couldn’t determine.
After leaving Train World, I headed to the nearby Museum of Mills and Food. The emphasis of this is more the latter rather than the former and like the sewer museum, explanatory displays are in French and Flemish only. It is located in a former windmill.
On my way to the latter, I passed a tram line and station with ticket machine. I made a mental note of this to allow me to return to the city this way. When I got back to the tram station, the ticket machine, whilst notionally having the option to buy a single ticket, would not complete the sale. After multiple attempts (and losing money in the coin slot) I gave up and walked back into the city. It is a sad day when the public transport system in Dublin can be considered gold standard in comparison.
My last port of call of the day was to track down the Jeanneke Pis, which I did.
The BBC has reported on the opening of the James Ellis Bridge in Connswater, East Belfast. Ellis was an actor best known for his role in the 1960s “Z Car” series and was from the area.
With its mining heritage, Shropshire would have enough material to make it worthy of a visit anyway, but the possibility of getting in to this feature mentioned on the BBC website would make such a trip even more worthwhile.
TBH I am running out of places I really want to go and see and in the absence of something of amazing IH interest, I am more likely to hop on a plane across the Atlantic (notwithstanding the recent political changes there) as I am almost guaranteed better weather and they speak English. Having said that, I have never been to Belgium, until today and will be here until Friday.
After a red eye flight from Dublin, the first port of call was to the sewer museum. I am sure that many have regarded a lot of my comments as being in the sewer and I have been accused of having a potty mouth on more than one occasion. Today I visited a museum dedicated to the subject.
The museum is located in two adjacent buildings which were originally city toll houses.* Unfortunately, the museum developers saw fit to have the displays in French and Flemish only, but the museum is interesting nonetheless with a range of artifacts, plans and photographs of the sewerage network in Brussels. There is also a dry sewer culvert that you can walk through and, down another level in the museum, a live sewer that can also be experienced.
The closest I got the the latter was the entrance, from where the stench was overpowering. I would have walked the length of sewer open to the public but there has been a lot of rain in Brussels recently and the level of the sewer had just started to overflow onto the walkway so this part of the tour was out.
The Brussels sewer also had a railway of sorts (now I am interested). Whilst I couldn’t determine what the purpose of the contraption involved was for, it looks like it may have been to declog the sewer walls/floor but effectively ran on flanged wheels guided along the top of the sewer channel (see below).
After this experience, I headed off to the nearby “La Fonderie” (Museum of Industry). I couldn’t determine if this was open or closed – its website stated open at 12:00 but there was no obvious controlled access. I wandered into the site which could only be described as akin to an open air scrapyard of historic machinery, as if some poor soul decided to dump it all in prime real estate in Brussels and call it a museum.
As I am in Brussels and staying nearby, I paid a visit to the Mannekin Pis and rather like the Giant’s Causeway, expectation and reality are somewhat different – it is very small. It was also dressed up in a red cape and baseball hat with extra large peak. When I arrived at the Mannekin, there was a group of English tourists dress in similar style – not that I am saying that this group decided to adopt the Mannekin Pis as one of their own!
I have been told by a friend that there is a more recent, female counterpart, which I will try to locate tomorrow.
* These were not uncommon features in cities historically – they were used to levy a toll for local use on goods coming into the city. Dublin had such a toll house at Stephen’s Green for traffic coming in along Leeson Street.
The Guardian has an interesting article about sand mining in Asia. This is of indirect relevance to Ireland as this activity takes place on Lough Neagh, where it is getting environmentalists very worked up.
The Guardian has a photo gallery of abandoned power stations in Philadelphia which is worth a look.
The Irish Labour History Society are hosting the above talk on 15th March 2017 at 20:00 in the Cois Life Bar in Liberty Hall, Dublin 1. Following the talk, the Clé Club will be holding a “Working on the Railway” Night, with songs and tunes relating to this theme. There is a €5 charge for the latter event.
As a libertarian, I am in two minds about this one. On one hand, I hold the view that if someone wishes to kill themselves, not only should they be let but society should have a formal process to facilitate it. Having said that, society is a long way off such a policy and as such, back to the issue at hand and Limerick City and County Council’s assertion that lifebuoys cannot be placed on protected structures. My understanding of the inclusion of a structure on the Record of Protected Structures is that this just requires planning permission for alterations/additions.
Therefore, in the absence of a specific law/court case, I am inclined to call BS on the assertion of Limerick Council that lifebuoys cannot be placed on Sarsfield Bridge.