Cumann Seandalaiochta agus Staire Phort Lairge

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Proposed Demolition of the former R & H Hall Grain Store, Dock Road, Ferrybank, Waterford.

RE. Proposed Demolition of the former R & H Hall Grain Store, Dock Road, Ferrybank, Waterford.

To whom it may concern,

As a Waterford person, I am delighted at the prospect of the development of the North Quays. As somebody who worked on the R & H Hall\Waterford Flour Mills site for twenty years, and as a member of Waterford Archaeological and Historical Society, I was delighted to see, that part of the North Quays Master Plan was the preservation of the Hennebique Warehouse.
This building is the last remaining tangible link to a site which was part of the thriving maritime history of Waterford. Grain stores, a water powered flour mill and a box factory occupied this site in the 19th century, an ancient ferry operated from the site to the city.
However, I am now puzzled as to why the Council, who state in the Master Plan that the building will be considered in any future development, now brings forward a plan to demolish it. The latter seems contrary to all the aspirations/policies in the draft Master Plan.
I believe that the thrust of a recent engineers report to the Council is that too much physical compromise would be needed to enable its adaptive reuse. He does not actually discuss how it might be reused, merely stating that "it is difficult to see what future use the building could serve”, I disagree.
The North Quays Master Plan aspires to the provision of a visitor centre, exhibition space and other cultural amenities. I see no reason why The Hennebique Warehouse couldn't be adapted to these and other uses. Here are some examples:
  • Maritime museum (In a city with such a maritime heritage, there have been many calls for a Maritime Museum, the major obstacle was to find a location, here is a readymade and most appropriate location)
  • Industrial Museum.
  • Gallery\Exhibition Centre.
  • Visitor Centre.
With a nine storey building it would be possible to have a combination of some, if not all, of the above.
The floor to ceiling height has been cited as a disadvantage, again, I disagree. The floor to ceiling height is 2650mm, except the top floor, where it is 3800mm! On a recent visit to Tullamore in County Offaly, I paid a visit to the Tullamore DEW experience, where the old Bond Store is now a very attractive and successful visitor centre, the floor to ceiling height in the reception area and gift shop is 2000mm (See attached photograph).

Many such buildings around the world have been preserved and given new life, just one example of what could be done with the Hennebique Warehouse is the concept produced by Rojo – Studio Architects in 2015 (See link : )
In 1998 extensive renovations were carried out on the late 19th Century Granary building on the corner of Merchants Quay and Hanover Street. I worked in this building in the 1970s when it was used as a grain store by R & H Hall. The original entrances to the building from the Quay and Hanover Street were widened and raised to accommodate modern transport. With large timber sliding doors,  RSJ heads and concreate surrounds, the entrances were functional but made the building look so ugly. Eventually the building ceased to be used as a grain store and by 1998 was derelict. The 1998 renovations included reversing the damage done to the entrances and restoring the tooled limestone doorcases and restoring all the surrounding stonework, this restoration work alone took time and considerable resources. Since its restoration the building has housed Waterford Museum of Treasures and Tourist Office. Today the warehouse is home to the School of Architecture of Waterford Institute of Technology and remains an important landmark in the centre of the City and is an attractive addition to the streetscape of Merchants Quay – what a loss it would have been had this building been demolished!
I appeal to the City Council, please do not demolish the Hennebique Warehouse, rather preserve and cherish this iconic building for future generations. I do not use the word iconic lightly, the Oxford Dictionary defines an Icon as -  
A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration. Whilst the Hennebique Warehouse may not be worthy of veneration, it is most definitely a representative symbol of the history and heritage of this site. Not only is it listed in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage as a building of National importance, it was part of the fabric of a once thriving site which gave employment to people from Ferrybank, the City and surrounding areas, in some cases, to 2 and sometimes 3 generations of the one family and it contributed to the social and economic life of the city for over 100 years.
While the Hennebique Warehouse stands it will be a palpable link to the heritage of the site, the port and indeed, the city.

Yours Sincerely,

Michael Maher,
26 Kenure Court,
12th January 2018

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