"S. Silk builder, decorator yard, Co. Dublin" - is actually Woking in the UK

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Where: England, Surrey, UK

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When: 01 January 1938

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From the Strand in Rosslare to suburban Dublin Woking and a silky builder.

The scene looks familiar but we wondered where it was. And, for the first time in a long time, it took a while to establish a definitive location and subject. There were plenty of concrete theories (from Galway joiners or stone-masons who may have moved to Ireland's east coast - to suggestions that perhaps this isn't a scene from Ireland at all). Ultimately the latter proved to be the case, when - following on lots of related effort from other community members - sharon.corbet found the definitive confirmation that this is not County Dublin at all. But Church Hill, Horsell, Woking in England...


Photographer: James P. O'Dea

Collection: James P. O'Dea

Date: Circa 1938

NLI Ref.: ODEA 1/47

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at catalogue.nli.ie

Info:

Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 21247
jamespo’dea o’deaphotographiccollection nationallibraryofireland silk ssilk buildercontractordectorato buildersyard houses headscratcher churchhill westbury horsell woking stephensilk possiblecataloguecorrection locationidentified

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  • profile

    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 08:40:16

    Well it's not Malahide (though it looks a bit like it), so I'd guess Rathgar/Terenure if it's Dublin

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    Swordscookie

    • 19/Nov/2015 08:41:47

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] I was thinking the same with Bushy Park in the background?

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 08:46:31

    Looking at the two preceding photos in the catalogue, it doesn't look much like Dublin. This one especially: catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000303327 - those aren't Dublin chimneys. Well, they might be, but they're a bit fancier than my previous guess - more like Donnybrook.

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 08:55:12

    Nutley road area, maybe?

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 09:14:53

    They all say County Dublin, though, which suggests Bray or Dalkey or similar.

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    patrick.vickers1

    • 19/Nov/2015 09:26:04

    Looks like a 1920's built house.

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 09:39:54

    Must have been out of the country for the 1911 census. Under 27 seems a bit young to own that pile and your own builder's business.

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    Swordscookie

    • 19/Nov/2015 10:23:43

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] I am surprised that you did not know that Bray is in Co. Wicklow!!! The house type is more or less ubiquitous and similar houses can be found in Malahide, Portmarnock, Howth, Rathfarnham and Tallaght all in Co. Dublin!

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 19/Nov/2015 10:46:38

    Any Silks or Silkes I knew came from down the west, Galway, south Mayo and/or Roscommon so the chances are that S. Silk is a blow-in! There is also a real possibility that the yard and the nearby house are not connected, indeed the residents may have been displeased to have an accumulation of builders material on their doorstep! The date is another thing, 1938 seems way before the other O'Dea shots in the collection, is it possible that this was 1968???

  • profile

    Dave MacPherson

    • 19/Nov/2015 11:19:06

    The street lamp in the picture looks more like an English than an Irish one. Could be wrong of course. And no footpath, hardly in the city.

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 11:41:49

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/swordscookie Only half of it.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 19/Nov/2015 12:01:50

    I was going to remark that I did not see any boys named S. Silke in the 1911 census, but then I though of James and John, who might be Seamas and Sean after the census man left.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 19/Nov/2015 12:04:13

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/davemacpherson Not in the city, but a leafy suburb

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    Niall McAuley

    • 19/Nov/2015 12:12:33

    On dates, I see an O'Dea of early construction of Poulaphouca Dam, which is certainly 1938.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 19/Nov/2015 12:56:16

    The nearby image (with this gate in the background) is apparently a house called Westbury on Church Hill, Co. Dublin. Which I can't find.

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    DannyM8

    • 19/Nov/2015 13:15:51

    I am thinking Orwell Park Dublin 6?

  • profile

    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 13:20:41

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] I didn't see anything that matched when I looked earlier. Did you have a specific bit in mind?

  • profile

    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 13:22:28

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley The two following ones of court cottage are also pretty distinctive. They don't look like anywhere I can think of in Dublin though.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 19/Nov/2015 13:37:19

    In Malahide, Church Road turns into The Hill...

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 13:39:00

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley The only bits of malahide it looks like are the bottom of Margaret's road or Grove road, and it's not either of those.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 19/Nov/2015 14:03:34

    ODEA 1/52 is in malahide...

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 14:06:43

    The Casino? Yep, but the preceding ones aren't. My very first thought was that it was here: www.google.ie/maps/@53.4496834,-6.1554662,3a,75y,174.75h,....

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 14:14:09

    If it was Malahide, those trees in the background would have to be the castle or the old golf course, and the only places it could be would be Margaret's road or Grove Road. They're the only houses of comparable size that back onto the castle or the golf course.

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 14:27:11

    That change in pitch at the bottom of the roof is the really odd bit. I can't think of anywhere that has that on the main roof as opposed to on porches or other annexes.

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    eyelightfilms

    • 19/Nov/2015 14:54:57

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/davemacpherson Plenty of street lamps like that in Dublin.

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 15:17:37

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/eyelightfilms Are there few enough that we could find the area based on it?

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    eyelightfilms

    • 19/Nov/2015 16:49:45

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Off the top of my head.... Dartry or Rathgar maybe. Possibly Greystones?

  • profile

    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 17:07:46

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/eyelightfilms] Good guess with Greystones - it looks quite like Church Road. Let's see can we find it. Not the right house, but a similar style: www.google.ie/maps/@53.1472887,-6.0686289,3a,75y,42.71h,8...

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    Niall McAuley

    • 19/Nov/2015 17:19:54

    Chimneys, also in Greystones... www.google.ie/maps/@53.1476188,-6.0718799,3a,49.7y,333.51...

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 19:01:16

    Hmm. Looked promising but I can't find it.

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 20:32:32

    I increasingly suspect that this is in the UK. There's a lot of church hills there, and all that red brick looks very British.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 19/Nov/2015 20:34:07

    Thanks all for the investigations today. Perhaps it's good to find one we can't quickly identify - a challenge will keep us on our toes :) I really like some of the thinking today. Including [https://www.flickr.com/photos/gnmcauley]'s suggestion that our Galway-based joiners and stone masons moved east - and made use of the Irish versions of their names. Some of those street-views also look pretty similar and promising. For our part, we've been looking through the Thom's Street Directories for c.1940, and the Dublin City Council electoral lists (mid 20th C). With no luck unfortunately finding an "S. Silk" that would seem a match for our image here. I'm sure there's a eureka moment to come - it's been a while since the community remained stumped for too long....

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 21:03:56

    England's full of Court Cottages too - there's even one on Church Hill in Nutfield, but it's not this one's mate.

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    derangedlemur

    • 19/Nov/2015 21:14:23

    Westbury, Church Hill, in Horsell - also apparently the wrong one: www.addressesandpostcodes.co.uk/address/6qW0jrHg/westbury...

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    Concorps

    • 19/Nov/2015 21:21:28

    Just asked my dad. he's worked for the same painting firm in Dublin since he was an apprentice in the mid 60s and they were founded in 1948. He has a near encyclopedic knowledge of all the old firms in the building trade and knows the roads like the back of his hand. I shared the pic with him - He's never heard tell of them.

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    guliolopez

    • 19/Nov/2015 22:47:52

    I can't find anything concrete either. The 1939 MacDonald's Irish Directory and Gazetteer (800 pages, 429MB) lists no Silks as builders. Nor is anything is anything in the DIA attributed to Silk's Builders. And all the related newspaper copy that I can find (for Silk's in the construction/real-estate industry) seem to point west. To Galway/Roscommon - rather than east to Co Dublin. I'm beginning to wonder if O'Dea took a boat to capture this image... www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/23139842162/ www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/22735316107/

  • profile

    guliolopez

    • 19/Nov/2015 23:00:46

    I would note that ODEA 1/45 is definitively labelled as "Westbury, Westbury, Co. Dublin" - and we can see Silk's gate and yard on the megazoom. ODEA 1/46 is labelled as "Westbury, Church Hill, Co. Dublin". So someone - even O'Dea himself - was fairly adamant that these houses were somewhere in Co Dublin. The "mock tudor" frontage of the house on the right-hand side of ODEA 1/45 has shades of Ranelagh/Rathmines for me....

  • profile

    sharon.corbet

    • 20/Nov/2015 01:57:58

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] I think it is the one in Horsell/Woking, just across the road from the one that is linked to on the postcode finder .The house isn't visible on Streetview, but that's the yard to the right. (Bing view where you can at lest see the house.) Kelly's Directory of 1922 with Stephen Silk, Builder at Westbury, Church Hill in Horsell, Woking. This heritage walk leaflet mentions that Silk's Yard is now used by the Street family for their joinery business "Underwood & Co." which is visible on the streetview. Plus O'Dea was in in Woking in 1938

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    sharon.corbet

    • 20/Nov/2015 02:16:49

    Here's Court Cottage, incidentally, which was built by Stephen Silk for his son, Arthur Cecil.

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    O Mac

    • 20/Nov/2015 02:27:25

    [https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]] Streetview to match ODEA 1/45 showing the tudor building on the right.

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    derangedlemur

    • 20/Nov/2015 06:55:48

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] Damn it! I chased Streetview up and down that hill half a dozen times on foot of three separate leads and couldn't get it to match. That's definitely it, though. Well done.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 20/Nov/2015 08:43:53

    Well done, folks! No undisclosed location is safe from you!

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    Niall McAuley

    • 20/Nov/2015 08:49:08

    You can just see the house, Westbury, past the trees in this Bing aerial view. Brick gable with a bay window to the left, dormers over an arched porch to the right.

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 20/Nov/2015 09:19:43

    Well done https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected] (and indeed everyone else!) - the evidence was definitely pointing towards England, but it's amazing to have definitive confirmation. Congrats and thanks all. One the peels of the "location identified" klaxon stop ringing in our ears, we'll need to decide what to do now with these catalogue entries - there's more than a few in that series which would seem to be mislabelled....

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    Gregory PC

    • 20/Nov/2015 10:09:38

    Wow!! Great investigation work guys!

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    eyelightfilms

    • 20/Nov/2015 12:21:49

    Excellent detective work. My, how fast those tress have grown.

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    Swordscookie

    • 20/Nov/2015 12:37:18

    Flip it! I was convinced that this was going to last as long as the castle in Sandymount! Congratulations to you all for a great piece of detective work!

  • profile

    BeachcomberAustralia

    • 21/Nov/2015 20:17:25

    Something I did not know before - H.G. Wells wrote The War Of The Worlds in Woking (1895-97) - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds#Physical_loca...