A real GNR treat, Malahide’s station is polychromatic perfection with the stamp of the company’s engineer in chief, William Hemingway Mills, every-which-way the eye turns. The station building is yellow brick, with red and black brick string courses paralleling across true and semi-arch window and door frames. All single-storey, the various rooms align along the platform in symmetrical cohesion.
The waiting shelter maintains its original sliding door – this is incredibly rare, as most have been removed, presumably due to wear-and-tear. Also intact are the original windows, with evidence of the original paintwork peekable from the layers of peeling coats. It would appear the concrete base was once the same royal blue as the GNR locomotive livery, with creams, greys and whites all visible underneath the current dark grey and green commotion.
These earlier architects form part of the GNR’s history in that the original railway line which opened in 1844 was constructed by the Dublin and Drogheda Railway, which hired architects for its stations and engineers for its tracks and trains. Papworth did design some of the company’s stations: Drogheda being the most obvious here.
For Malahide, it can be correctly stated here that it is not by Papworth and it was not built in 1851. An original drawing by Mills has not been found yet, but Archiseek dates Malahide station to 1903. This can be verified by the Dictionary of Irish Architects, which lists an entry in the Irish Builder for Malahide station dated 8 October 1903. An entry does exist for Papworth’s design, which was shown at the Royal Hibernian Academy in March 1851 with the caption: ‘intended to have been erected over the line at Malahide’. Alas, it was not.
The legend of Papworth persists at the station master’s house, which is of the standardised red brick and yellow accent variety. A well-kept example, it is now a solicitors. The roles of incorrect cataloguing have been reversed here: Buildings of Ireland lists it as being built c.1880 which is probably correct, whilst Archiseek attributes it to… you guessed it: Papworth in 1851. Sigh.
The persistence of the 1851 date suggests there must have been some kind of a station building at Malahide before the GNR took over. Two articles from both ends of the social scale illustrate this. The first is a call by Lord Talbot de Malahide (of his eponymous castle) to the public who could avail of free train tickets on Saturday 1 February 1851. The second is the rather less salubrious tale of a drunkard relieving himself on the platform and in the station building with his excuse being there were no facilities at the station. Mills’ design corrects this: Boyles’ Ventilators are evident in the roof at the northern end of the station building; they were always used to air the gentlemen’s toilets.
|Meagher, L., Drawing of the original wooden viaduct and the 1860-replacement structure (Engineers Ireland)|
Still heading north is the Malahide viaduct. Built by the DDR’s chief engineer, John Macneill, and in place by 1843, his timber design was not to last and was replaced in 1860 to designs by another DDR engineer, Marcus Harty. His design had stone piers and iron spans, which were replaced by concrete spans, and again by Irish Rail following another collapse in 2009. The viaduct’s strategic importance is described in a 1922 IRA document, 'Memo suggesting ways to hamper repairwork on Malahide railway bridge', in the Ernie O'Malley Papers, National Library of Ireland.
|Hogan, W. D., 'Men working on the Malahide railway line after an attempt to blow up the culvert', 1923 (NLI)|
Continuing my pootle around and about the station I meet a rather large archway which provides access to the western platform. Buildings of Ireland dates it to 1880, but I wonder if this is a remnant of the first railway station and therefore earlier? Why would the GNR built such an archway?
A long time coming, but a treat indeed.
|Dixon Photography Collection, 'A Treat at Malahide', 1960s/70s (Dublin City Archives)|
|Hogan, W. D., 'The laying of a railway line, possibly Malahide', 1923 (NLI)|
|Malahide station facing north. Fáilte Ireland Tourism Photographic Collection, 1967 (Dublin City Archive)|
Buildings of Ireland
Dictionary of Irish Architects
Dublin City Archive
Irish Railway Record Society Archives
National Library of Ireland
National Newspaper Archive
Meagher, L. 'The collapse and reconstruction of the Malahide Viaduct – part 1', Engineers Ireland, 17 January 2017.
Patterson, E. M., The Great Northern Railway (Ireland)