Thursday 20 July 2017

Kildare power house

A restored manager's house in Naas is quite a gas

The elaborate chimney serves the living-room fire and the kitchen range
The elaborate chimney serves the living-room fire and the kitchen range
Gasworks exterior
One of the bathrooms
The garden with the original chimney
View from the living room end
Mark Keenan

Mark Keenan

In 19th century Naas, children who were suffering from a debilitating whooping cough were shuffled into the town's gasworks - then at the pinnacle of energy innovation - to inhale into their lungs, as a curative, the noxious fumes emanating from the production of gas from coal.

Home heating and lighting (and medicine) has since come a long way and the Naas gasworks closed its doors in the mid-20th century as electrification abounded. But from 1807, when Pall Mall in London became the first public street to be gaslit at night, the use of coal-produced gas caused a revolution.

Gaslit streets provided the first plausible public lighting and made walking about at night far safer by eliminating opportunities for thieves and cutpurses now in plain view and without shadows to hide in.

As it reached private homes, gas enabled longer leisure hours in dark evenings. The downside for workers of course was that gas lighting also permitted factories and businesses to operate long into the night and so it also brought about an extended working day.

Naas was always a relatively prosperous business town and the arrival of gas lighting in the 1860s was considered ahead of its time in Ireland.

The installation was a gargantuan task because it required not only the construction of a processing works, but also the installation of a complicated series of underground pipes channelling into every home and business in the town.

The Gasworks was constructed on the banks of the Grand Canal - at the time, a vital channel for commercial cargo. The coal required to keep the burners fired and the chimney smoking came by barge from Dublin and landed here on the facility's doorstep. Although it's a lifetime ago since Naas children were fumigated for whooping cough, much of the old facility still stands today and the cut-stone chimney stack is a well-known landmark in the area.

The manager's house and former coal house, which includes an acre of land with the original chimney stack, was restored in 1998 and now it's a distinctly characterful private residence in a mixed mock-tudor cottage and cut-stone style.

The resulting home has just been placed on the market for sale through Jordan with a price of €600,000 attached. With 2,600 sq ft overlooking the canal, it is approached by an electric gate to a gravel forecourt with stone pillars.

There's a hall with a pine floor leading into a large open-plan kitchen/living room which houses a very elaborate free-standing brick centre-chimney column with solid fuel stove on one side and a Rayburn twin oven oil-fired cooker on the other. It has pine-fitted kitchen units, a gas hob, an electric oven, a Belfast sink and an integrated dishwasher. High ceilings sport rustic timber beams and French doors lead to the garden.

Off the living room is an office with a gallery library overhead. Also on the ground floor are two bedrooms, one of which is ensuite, a utility and a toilet. Upstairs there are two more bedrooms, both of which are ensuite.

Attached to the house is a large double garage with automatic doors. To the rear is a walled in garden with the historical gasworks chimney, a wooden deck, a gravelled area and garden encircled by a small stone wall.

The price is €600,000 and if, after viewing, you want to research further, Tommy Fletcher's pub on North Main Street has some original gaslight fittings installed above the bar.

The Gasworks

Naas, Co Kildare

Asking price: €600,000

Agent: Jordan (045) 433550

Indo Property

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