As the harbour goes through perhaps its biggest change ever, it’s more important now than ever to remember what went before.
This stretch of coast has given us the likes ofJoe Sweeney and Michael Fields, and here, our #1 town historian Gary Achesonhas helpfully put together a timeline charting the building, the life and the fatal storm battering of these iconic Greystones cottages…
1890s – Most of the cottages were built along the beach road during this decade. Three two story houses built at the harbour end – first ‘Alberta’ – later ‘Yarra Yarra’ and ‘Glencoe’ – all three still survive.
1897 – Jubilee Castle was constructed out of the disused lime kiln for Thomas Hewson, a barrister from Dublin. Hewson also lived some years in Burlington House at the harbor. It was named for that year’s Jubilee of Victoria’s 60 years as queen.
1898 – Wicklow County Council takes on road repairs on the North Beach. After several years they reversed themselves and refused further work.
1903 – Hewson sued the LaTouche Estate to prevent sand and gravel being removed from the beach as he felt it was exposing his property to erosion.
1907 – Hewson sued Wicklow County Council to carry out repairs and build a sea wall – he lost.
1910 – Thoms’ Directory lists the occupants of the homes on ‘Sea Beach-road’.
1911 – Thomas Hewson died – Jubilee Castle occupied by his brother Rev. Henry Hewson.
August 1928 – a sea wall is finally built to protect the road and houses at a cost of £3000.
February 18 1929 – The sea wall is washed away and roadway partially eroded. A week of southerly gales had removed the beach – it was believed the sea wall had caused a backwash that undermined the wall itself.
February 1930 – More south-easterly gales and spring tides – additional houses are abandoned. The foundations of Jubilee Castle are exposed and eroded. The owner, Mrs. Young, has workers remove furniture and fittings. Mr Curling’s Kiln Cottage is evacuated – the sea is 12 feet from the door. Yarra Yarra is also temporarily vacated. John Evans leaves Renellan Cottage. By now the whole row of cottages and Jubilee Castle are abandoned and crumbling to the ground. Many of the displaced rebuild in Redford and Blacklion with some government assistance.
April 18 1931 – a storm causes “considerable damage” to the North Wall.
After the initial loss of houses in 1929, the Greystones Utility Society was established to help those who had already lost their homes on the North Beach, or those who were in clear danger of doing so. Formed largely by the householders themselves as a support group, plans were put in place as to where to build new homes in Greystones, with several sites mentioned.
Eventually, fields owned by Mr Maguire at the railway arch and Mr Carr at Blacklion and Jink’s Hill were agreed upon.
North Beach cottages aftermath. Source: Derek Paine
The aftermath of the North Beach storm erosion 1929
View from La Touche along North Beach. Source Derek Paine
North Beach Harbour. Pic: Robert French
1929 Storm leaves its mark on the North Beach
Before the exodus to Blacklion and Rathdown Rd
Mr Trent, George Thompson and his father, Alexander, who lived in Glencoe on the North Beach
North Beach 1929
George Archer, Sam Evans, Mrs Sam Evans, Jim Byrne, Jim Whiston, Mrs Jimmy Evans, Bert Curling and Francis Daly view the damage
Removing slates after the storm
Room With A View North Beach 1929
You can check out the history of The Jubilee Castle – aka, The Rosetta Fort – here.
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