Chillingworth & Levie Exhibition

- A Cork City and County Archives Exhibition supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht -

Better Housing

In the late nineteenth century Ireland had some of the worst housing conditions in Europe. The Artisans and Labourers Dwellings Improvement Acts, 1875 and 1879,

offered loans to urban local authorities to clear slum areas for new houses, while the 1890 Housing Act allowed them to build houses on green field sites for the first time. Cork Corporation together with the philanthropic Improved Dwellings Company provided nearly 1,000 units of workers housing.

However, the relatively high rent on these houses proved prohibitive to the neediest and by 1900 much of the population still lived in slums. Twenty-five years later, the Cork Civic Survey noted that nearly one fifth of the city, 16,000 people, lived in unhealthy conditions. 3,000 families lived in over 700 tenements, proportionally comparable with Dublin and some of the worst-affected industrial cities in England.

Photograph of poor housing in Margaret Place, c.1900, Courtesy Cork City Libraries

Under the 1908 Clancy Act, Chillingworth & Levie developed three

Annotated front and rear elevations with sections of ‘Proposed Cottages on Town Wall Site’, Youghal, ink on glazed linen, Chillingworth & Levie, 1914, 76 x 43cm, Cork City and County Archives

small housing schemes of ‘working class dwellings’ and cottages for Youghal UDC in 1914. One terrace of eight was built as designed on a site near the town wall. A second terrace of eight semi-detached houses was modified to a terrace of eight on Raheen Road. The third was never built. All the houses had gardens with earth closets to the rear. An interesting comparison with these public designs are the proposals for Queenstown Dry Docks Company cottages, begun nearly five years later as subsidised workers’ housing. The terrace as built comprised five houses of three bedrooms each with an upstairs bathroom but without a garden.

‘Housing Map’, indicating the location of dilapidated housing from the Cork Civic Survey, 1926, Courtesy Cork City Libraries

The Cork Civic Survey, published 1926, was the city’s first major town planning document. It was written by the Cork Town Planning Association,

created in 1913, with the advice of Professor Patrick Abercrombie (1879-1957), University of Liverpool. It counted D. J. Coakley (1885-1951), Town Planner and Principal of Cork School of Commerce, 1908-1944, as its secretary, John F. Delaney (1872-1942), City Engineer and Architect, 1903-1924, and Daniel Levie

amongst the seven-member technical sub- committee who worked on the project. The survey was presented to Town Commissioner Philip Monahan (1893-1972).

Title page of the Cork Civic Survey, 1926, Courtesy Cork City Libraries

View of the city taken from the Churchfield/Gurranebraher area before it was developed for housing, c.1900, taken from the Cork Civic Survey, courtesy Cork City Libraries

Sketch plans of ‘Proposed Cottages at Rushbrooke for Queenstown Dry Docks Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd.’, ink on paper, Chillingworth & Levie, 1919, 44 x 31cm, Cork City and County Archives

Plan elevation and sections of ‘Proposed Cottages at Rushbrooke for Queenstown Dry Dock, Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd.’, ink on paper copy, Chillingworth & Levie, 1919, 76 x 56cm, Cork City and County Archives

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