Routes 5, 6, 6A, 7, 7A, 7B, 7D, 7E, 7N, 7X and 8
Donnybrook's Wright Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5TL, SG116, is seen operating Route 7 on Churchview Road on the 21st October 2016. SG116 was delivered to Donnybrook in August 2015 and is still in operation there today.
This article outlines the history of Routes 5, 6, 6A, 7, 7A, 7B, 7D, 7E, 7N, 7X and 8. These routes skirt the south-east coast of Dublin serving famous Dublin suburbs such as Ballsbridge (named after the bridge over the River Dodder in lands formerly owned by the Balls family), Booterstown (literally named "town of the road", with booter an Anglicisation of bóthar), Blackrock (named after the dark rocks at its coastline, an abbreviation of its former name, Newtown at the Black Rock), Monkstown (named after the Cistercian Abbey built in the 13th Century), Dún Laoghaire (formerly Dunleary, then Kingstown) and Dalkey (named after Dalkey Island just off its shores, Dalkey coming from Deilg (Irish for thorn) and ey (norse for Island)).
Dún Laoghaire needs special mention due its name changes. It is named after a former High King of Ireland, Lóegaire MacNeill, who chose this site as a sea base in the 5th Century. The name became anglicised and the town was known as Dunleary. Shipwrecks were a major issue in Dublin Bay and in the early 19th century, Dunleary was chosen as the sight for a major harbour to be built to protect ships during storms. King George IV visited Dunleary when the harbour was being constructed, and the name Dunleary was dropped in favour of Kingstown in honour of the visit. The town returned to the correct Irish version of its name, Dún Laoghaire, in 1920 just before the formation of the Irish Free State. The reader should be conscious of the varied use of these names through this article.
GAC Citybus, KC87, is seen operating Route 8 on Burgh Quay in August 2000, towards the end of KC operation in Dublin Bus. KC87 was delivered in early 1984 to Donnybrook garage, but was slow to enter service, not entering service till June 1984. It was destined to become a DART feeder bus, but problems with the introduction of these services meant it floated onto other services. KC87 was loaned to Conyngham Road in the summer of 1985 to help with buses off service there for driver safety modifications. During this time, it was also periodically loaned to Broadstone to operate some short distance country routes. By the autumn of 1985, KC87 was back in store at Donnybrook awaiting introduction of the DART Feeder services. It re-entered service in Donnybrook in February 1986 with the introduction of the DART feeder services. It was one of the last KC types in operation in Donnybrook, being withdrawn about a month or two after this photo.
The feature begins with a brief description of early transport along this corridor, both train and omnibus, proceeding to horse-tram operation, into the amalgamation of the tramway companies and electrification, motor-bus competition, the Emergency and end of tramway operation, early bus operation, finishing with the more modern days of bus operation.
The south Dublin coastal corridor is quite famous in transport terms, being the location of Ireland's first railway, and principally the world's first commuter railway transferring passengers from the suburbs into the city. The Dublin and Kingstown Railway (DKR) was built between Westland Row (now Pearse Station) and Kingstown (West Pier - the current station location completed a few years later). The first train departed on the 17th December 1834, with an intermediate station at Blackrock. By 1835, further stations at Sandymount, Sydney Parade, Merrion, and Booterstown had been added to the line. Further stations were added to the line at Salthill (1837), Seapoint (1862), and Landsdowne Road (1870).
Donnybrook's AX648 is seen on Temple Road operating Route 7 to Cherrywood on the 9th June 2012. AX648 is the very last ALX400 numerically in Dublin Bus's fleet. It was delivered around Christmas 2006 to the Dublin Bus technical department in Broadstone and some testing was performed on it. It finally entered service in Harristown in February 2008 upon the launch of Route 140. It transferred to Donnybrook in August 2008 and has remained in service there ever since.
Railway services were extended from Kingstown (Station) to Dalkey (Atmospheric Road / Barnhill Lawn) in 1844 with the opening of the Dalkey Atmospheric Railway (the first commercial atmospheric railway) on the 29th March 1844, though it had been running experimentally for a number of months. Its first trial run was on the 19th August 1843, though at this point the line had not been completed to Kingstown station, the train starting from Glasthule Bridge. The services ran with more regularity over the months ahead though not to a regular timetable. It should be clear from the name that this was no ordinary railway. Unlike the steam engines that ran between Dublin and Kingstown, the method of propulsion was a vacuum, with a piston attached to the train being sucked up towards Dalkey at speeds of up to 40mph. The vacuum was created with a steam engine at Dalkey, and the atmospheric pressure behind the piston would push the train in the direction of Dalkey. The return journey to Dún Laoghaire relied on gravity and was slower. The atmospheric trains ran until the 12th April 1854, ceasing to allow the conversion of the line to standard gauge track to form part of the Dublin, Wicklow and Wexford Railway (DWWR) line, with further stations at Sandycove (1855) and Glenageary (1867) being added to the line.
Horse drawn omnibuses were also a feature of 19th century Dublin. When the DKR analysed the business credentials of their line to Kingstown, they noted 70,000 journeys a month were made along the corridor in 1830. Of this, 34% travelled by "public cars". These were principally taxis, more private hire, potentially for a number of patrons, not omnibuses running to a schedule. This was because the jarveys (slang term for a coachman) operating these cars, argued in the courts that omnibuses were illegal according to Dublin's stage carriage laws. This continued until the mid-19th century when omnibuses started taking to the streets.
Former Donnybrook Alexander ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL, AV397, is seen on O'Connell Bridge operating Route 7A to Mackintosh Park on the 19th May 2011. AV397 entered service in May 2004 at Donnybrook. It was delivered with luggage racks for use on the 746 service from Dún Laoghaire to Dublin Airport. It was strictly allocated to this route until its cancellation in 2010 as part of Network Direct, when AV397 went into the general allocation in Donnybrook. In the summer of 2011 it obtained an overall advertisement for HB, the last bus (as of 2018) to have received a full all over advert. It is seen in this advert above. It moved to Summerhill in November 2012 to work Airport routes 16 and 41 due to its luggage racks. It operated in Summerhill until the 9th February 2018, and is currently in store in Harristown (21st March 2018).
It is impossible to record a complete history of horse-drawn omnibus services at this time, however two operations are important in the context of this district. The first came about in 1854 with the withdrawal of the atmospheric railway. In order to continue the connection between Kingstown and Dalkey, the Dublin and Kingstown railway brought in omnibuses owned by Anthony O'Neill (a coachbuilder of 7 North Strand) and J&J Wilson (68 Upper Sackville Street). The omnibuses began on the 10th May 1854 and ran from Kingstown Station via Sandycove, Glasthule and Bullock to Dalkey. Two omnibuses operated this service, and the service operated till the end of November 1854.
The next service of note is the Kingstown and Dublin Omnibus Company (also known as the Dublin and Kingstown Omnibus Company), which began operation from College Street (No. 3) to Kingstown (49 Upper George's Street - their HQ) on the 2nd September 1861, operating a number of coaches made by Anthony O'Neill in his North Strand Coach Builders. The premise of the operation was that though there was significant competition from the train, passengers were inconvenienced by the walk to the infrequently spaced stations, and hence omnibus operation was more convenient (a fact revisited in this piece). The timetable in 1861 was:
One notable director of the company was a P.W. Bryan, a local Kingstown merchant, and it was he who set up a service from Kingstown Railway Station to Dalkey (Castle Street) on the 9th October 1862, which supplemented the city service. Buses ran hourly from 8am to 7pm from Kingstown, on the half-hour from Dalkey. It is noted in contemporary accounts that upon the launch of the service, that "two good looking girls... clad as soldiers, their sex not seemingly known to their companions" were part of the inaugural service, completely out of the norm from mid-19th century etiquette.
Donnybrook's Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL, GT10, operating Route 7D from Dalkey is seen alongside former Conyngham Road AV290, operating Route 79, on Westmoreland Street on the 18th April 2014. GT10 entered service in September 2012 in Donnybrook Garage operating Route 7 primarily, being Donnybrook's first GT route. It is in more of a general allocation in Donnybrook these days (March 2018).
My Bryan took over the operation of the Kingstown and Dublin Omnibus Company as a leasee on the 1st January 1863, both operations now under the same guise. It is interesting to note that even in these early times, long before magnetic readers or leap cards, that this company offered annual tickets. The cost, £15 from Dalkey to Dublin, £10 8s from Kingstown to Dublin and £7 16s from Blackrock to Dublin. By 1865, the company was issuing 159,000 tickets (single tickets not annual) per year on their operation, showing just how much growth there can be on a well run commuter route, even in competition with a railway.
Competition on this route across the various forms of transport is a constant throughout this article, between train, tram and bus. Protectionism from the various companies, trying to ensure their profits on the commuter route, form a key part of the story.
Horse Tram Operation:
The Dublin Southern District Tramways Company (DSDT) built the first tram lines along this route. The DSDT was primarily owned by The Imperial Tramways Company, who ran tramways in Middlesborough, Gloucester, Reading and London. Because tramways were a major infrastructural project, built by private companies on public roads, new tramways required an act of parliament (at this time from the House of Commons in London). The Dublin Southern District Tramways Act was awarded in 1878, allowing work to begin on two unconnected tramways. It was the protectionist legal objections by the DWWR that was key in these two lines being incompatible, due to different track gauges.
The first DSDT line, and thus the first section of what became the Dublin-Dalkey tram line, opened on the 19th March 1879, operating from the bottom of Royal Marine Road in Kingstown (just up from the then station entrance) to Castle Street in Dalkey (terminus at the corner of Castle Street and Convent Road) via George's Street, Summerhill Road and Ulverton Road. Due to the narrowness of Castle Street in Dalkey, but also George’s Street in Dun Laoghaire, and objections from interested parties, this tramway was built to a 4ft gauge, differing from the standard 5ft 3in tramway gauge (or more correctly 5ft 2 3/16 in) employed in Dublin. A depot was built at Castle Street in Dalkey, just prior to the terminus.
The second DSDT line was built between Blackrock (Main Street in front of the Stone Cross) and Haddington Road (where it joined the Sandymount tramway – see Route 4 article) via Rock Road, Merrion Road and Northumberland Road, opening on the 16th July 1879. The line was built to the standard 5ft 3in gauge. Its depot was at Shelbourne Road. The Dublin Tramways Company who operated the Sandymount line would not allow running rights of DSDT trams on their rails, an agreement eventually being reached where the DSDT trams would be brought into the city by DTC horses, the horses and drivers being swapped at Haddington Road. This section of line was operated by steam engines for a number of months beginning Sunday 7th August 1881. Two stream trams provided a 30min service from Blackrock to Haddington Road. Opposition to these engines was severe, and calls to limit the speed to 4mph was sufficient to kill off the project.
DF768, a DAF re-engined Van Hool bodied Leyland Atlantean AN68, is seen operating Route 7 on Butt Bridge on the 2nd November 1993. D768 was new to Donnybrook in January 1976. It moved to Ringsend in the autumn on 1987 due to maintenance problems within Ringsend depot, a straight swap for some other Ringsend Atlanteans. It then moved to Phibsborough in the summer of 1991 operating there for just over 2 years. This photo was taken a short time after its transfer back to Donnybrook in the autumn of 1993. It was one of the last few Atlanteans to operate into 1995 in Donnybrook garage, being withdrawn in January of that year exactly 19 years after it had entered service. Notable in this photo is the bar across the upstairs windows. The Van Hools were originally delivered without this feature. However D768 was involved in an accident in 1976. While travelling down the Rock Road the bus had to break suddenly, the consequence of which was that the conductor partially went through the front windows. After this, the bar across the front windows was added to Van Hool Atlanteans.
The DSDT also obtained permission to build a third line from Pembroke Road (meeting the Blackrock line at Northumberland Road) to Rathmines via the route that eventually became the "cross tram" (Route 18), which was built by the Dublin United Tramways Company (DUTC) following acquisition of the DSDT. A small section of the line along Pembroke Road was built, to the corner of Waterloo Road and Baggot Street, but the DCT refused permission for DSDT trams to travel along their lines, and hence it was never used.
The final section of line, joining the two sections, was built and operated by a different company, the Blackrock and Kingstown Tramways Company (BKT). This line operated from Blackrock Main Street (where it connected with the DSDT line at "a point 28 years westward of the stone cross in that street") to Marine Road (junction of Crofton Road), Kingstown, via Newtown Avenue, Temple Hill, Monkstown Road, Dunleary Hill and George's Street. Its depot was built on Newtown Avenue. At each end it shared a terminus with one of the DSDT lines, though integrated timetabling was not introduced in order to entice through running of passengers. The different gauges complicated the construction on Marine Road, especially where the lines crossed. The line opened in August 1885, its introduction/construction being severely contested by the DWWR, who saw this as the final chain in a competitive tram service. Initially, they needed not worry. No through running of DSDT vehicles between the city and Kingstown happened over BKT lines. With horse swaps at Haddington Road, tram swaps at Blackrock and Kingstown, the Dalkey bound passenger faced a journey approximately four times longer by tram than train. However that was soon to change.
Amalgamation of the Tramway Companies and Electrification:
The DSDT were early proponents of mechanical power and though their trials with steam engines had been scuppered, they still saw the mechanisation of their tramways as a high priority. In February 1887 they held an extraordinary general meeting of shareholders to advise their intention to purchase the DKT and to mechanise the full line from Haddington Road to Dalkey. Electrification was deemed the most sensible form of mechanisation, as it had been successful in Blackpool (1885) and Leeds (1891). The electrification of the line required another act of parliament, and this act was again heavily opposed by the DWWR. There was much local favour among residents for the new electric line, and by the summer of 1893, the act was in the final stages of deliberation (the Dublin Southern District Tramways Act 1893 passed in August 1893 allowing electricification and track modifications). Hence, in June 1893 the DSDT acquired the BKT, with through ticketing and timetabling introduced.
In order to convert the line to electric operation, the permanent way needed to be reconstructed which meant the line was closed for the works. The first section to close was the Haddington Road to Blackrock section, closing on the 11th March 1895, the Blackrock and Kingstown section on the 30th June 1895 and then finally the Kingstown to Dalkey line in August 1895. The pace of work was high, it being noted that the Haddington Road to Ballbridge section of the line was finished sufficiently to allow the Dublin United Tramways Company (the new name of the DCT following amalgamations with other tramways) to run their horse drawn trams over these lines to the RDS for the famous Horse Show Week at the end of August 1895. The first trail run (engineering testing) of an electric tram from Haddington Road to Kingstown took place in December 1895.
Donnybrook's Enviro400 bodied Volvo B9TL, EV35, is seen operating Route 7 on Crofton Road Dún Laoghaire on the 3rd June 2016. It entered service in Donnybrook in October 2007, as part of the EV23-36 batch of buses. For quite a significant time, this bus was a Route 145 regular. At the time of this photo, EVs were common on the 7, it having lost SGs to other cross-city services in Donnybrook. This didn't last long, with SGs soon restored to the service upon delivery of new buses.
The electrified line opened between Haddington Road and Dalkey on the 16th May 1896, under the operating name of "Dublin Electric Tramways". The Lord Mayor of Dublin inaugurated the service, travelling on the first car departing Kingstown for Dalkey at 7am. The first car from Haddington Road to Dalkey departed at 8am. The journey time was 70mins from Haddington Road to Dalkey, the trams limited to a maximum of 8mph, with no electric tram allowed to exceed this speed. The opening of this first electric tramway was a significant event in Dublin, a modern marvel that people wanted to try. On the first day alone, 25,000 people travelled on the trams, with 50,000 passengers travelling on the following day (Sunday 17th May). There were 14 trams in service on the first day (each composed of an electric car and trailer, both double decked, making 28 cars), yet queues at Haddington Road for the tram were as high as 1 hour. The DUTC reduced their fares for their horse drawn trams between Sackville Street and Haddington Road to 1d (1 penny) on the inaugural day, with DSDT charging 1d from Haddington Road to Merrion, 2d to Blackrock, 3d to Kingstown, and 4d to Dalkey. Integrated ticketing was not available.
It should be noted that the conversion to standard gauge lead to a section of single track at the Dalkey terminus on Castle Street, with double track running just beyond the depot before becoming a single track to the junction with Convent Road. Marine Road, the terminus of the Dalkey-Kingstown, Kingstown-Blackrock services was also electrified, however through trams continued along George’s Street to Dalkey, with Dun Laoghaire bound services only using Marine Road.
The DSDT was a minor part of their Imperial Tramway's empire and was limited in its growth due to the DUTC having a monopoly on inner city tramway services along all principle routes. The DSDT had been offered to the DUTC on a number of occassions but they had not taken up the offer. The DUTC were set to gain from the increased traffic brought by the electric tram service to Dalkey. For this reason, the DSDT decided to propose their own city centre routing in November 1895, as well as a number of competing routes that would see lines run on roads parallel to existing DUTC line, for which they sought an act of parliament. As shown in the map below, under the proposals Dublin was basically to get a doubling of its tramway lines, and it is doubted that there was an economic justification for the lines.
Map showing the proposed extensions of the DSDT which would have been a significant increase in Dublin Tramway mileage and significant competition for the DUTC. Note that some lines are shown as entering housing estates, or across private property. This was the intention, and in all cases every effort has been made to be as accurate as possible (click on it for a larger version).
For the Dalkey service the proposed routing to avoid the DUTC lines was to turn up Shelbourne Road continuing past the depot onto Grand Canal Street, Sandwidth Street Upper and Lower, Townsend Street, Tara Street, terminating at corner of Burgh Quay and O’Connell Bridge. There was also a proposed extension to the Dalkey line to Sorrento Road. The competing lines were never built, though the DSDTs concept of a Ballybough line would be introduced in the early 1900s.
However, the proposals got the attention of the DUTC, who were unhappy at the proposed competition from a "partner" tramway, and the act may have had the exact outcome the Imperial Tramways had hoped for. For soon after, the DUTC acquired the DSDT from the British Thomson-Houston Company Ltd. The Thomson-Houston Company had funded the construction of the Dalkey Line and in return had received preference capital in the DSDT. They ran into financial difficulty due to the costs of building the Dalkey Line, reforming as the British Thomson-Houston Company in 1896. These financial woes, and issues with the proposed act of parliament, lead the British Thomson-Houston company to force a buyout of the Imperial Tramways and execute a sale to the DUTC in July 1896, the new company Dublin United Tramways (1896) being incorporated on the 28th September 1896. However, these three companies, DUTC, DSDT and DUTC (1896) existed as seperate entities, at least on paper, for a further 11 years until an act of parliament allowing the merger and formation into a single entity was passed.
ALX400 bodied bodied Volvo B7TL, AV389, is seen operating Route 7 on Georges Street Dún Laoghaire on the 18th May 2011. It entered service in Donnybrook in May 2004, its delivery delayed due to Transbus going into administration prior to delivery. AV389 was an early AV to be fitted with an LED display, receiving one in April/May 2007, following AV70, AV77 and RV577 in receiving same. At the time of the photo AV389 was an oddity, with it and AV70 the only ALX400s that had an LED. It operated in Donnybrook until the 28th November 2017, its last day being a rare allocation to Route 14 which was a fully SG route then. It returned to service in Harristown on the 24th January 2018, operating there till the 19th February. It is currently in storage at Harristown depot.
The speed of the trams were a continued bone of contention between the tram company, their passengers, and the board of trade. Eventually the board of trade would allow 12mph which was the speed permitted for other early motorised vehicles. In order to improve journey times, the DUTC placed notices on certain lamp posts to request passengers to wait at these locations in order to speed up journey times. The Dalkey Line was therefore the first tramline to have designated stops, up to this time trams were a hail and ride service (trams going slow enough to hop on and off in most cases). It is not known exactly what signage was used, though in later times, such stopping places were labelled with a white line around the lamp post.
Such had been the success of the Dalkey Electric Tramway that by the summer of 1897, the DUTC reached an agreement with Dublin Corporation to allow electric tramways within the city boundary and began the process of electrifying their entire network. This allowed the Dalkey Line to be extended to Nelson's Pillar, however, even though the Dalkey line had the first electric trams in Dublin, it was the Clontarf line that brought electric trams to Sackville Street (Nelson’s Pillar/O'Connell Street) four months before the Dalkey line electrics reached the city centre on the 12th July 1898, initially limited to just O'Connell Bridge due to works. At this stage, trams ran via Westland Row, Pearse Street and D’olier Street to Sackville Street (O’Connell Street). It was noted at the time that free transfers were available for passengers at Merrion Square, who could transfer to Donnybrook line trams to access Nassau Street. This continued until the 7th September, when the Donnybrook cars were also routed via Westland Row to allow reconstruction of the line in Nassau Street. Such was the pace of work at the time, it was only just over month, on the 12th October 1898, that trams were rerouted via Clare Street, Leinster Street South, Nassau Street, Grafton Street, College Green and Westmoreland Street to Sackville Street. Imagine Luas work being completed at this pace nowadays!
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