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Thursday 14 December 2017

Diving bell played a crucial role up until the '50s

Paul Melia Environment Correspondent

TO the untrained eye, it's a peculiar-looking hulk of metal which sits on Sir John Rogerson's Quay.

But the diving bell, invented by Bindon Blood Stoney (1828-1909), was crucial in the development of Dublin Port during the Victorian era and remained in use right up to the 1950s.

Appointed in 1862 as the Dublin Ballast Board's chief engineer, Stoney was responsible for building deep-water quays along the River Liffey and decided to use a novel method of underwater construction.

Massive concrete blocks of 350 tonnes were made on the quayside and lowered into position on to the river bed, which had previously been levelled by workmen.

This was done by lowering the diving bell into position, pumping water out and compressed air in. Workers entered through a tunnel at the top, and passed through an airlock, which allowed them to level the river bed.

The bell is just one aspect of the port's heritage that will be developed as part of the Dublin Port Company's masterplan, with works on the diving bell to be completed by the summer.

Across the river, Graving Dock No 1, which was used to repair ships, will be excavated and restored, with an interpretative centre developed.

Planning application also includes a new public space at the East Link bridge. Two walk-through pavilions will also be built, with information about the history of the port.

Finally, the North Wall Quay lighthouse will be moved west towards the city as the quay is being remodelled.

Irish Independent

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