From A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, 1837
The city is advantageously situated on the western or Donegal side of the river Foyle, about five statute miles above the point where it spreads into Lough Foyle, chiefly on the summit and sides of a hill projecting into the river, and commanding on all sides richly diversified and picturesque views of a well cultivated tract: this hill, or "Island of Derry," is of an oval form, 119 feet high, and contains about 200 acres. The ancient portion of the city occupies the higher grounds, and is surrounded by massive walls completed in 1617, at the expense of the Society: they form a parallelogram nearly a mile in circumference, and in the centre is a square called the Diamond, from which four principal streets radiate at right angles towards the principal gates.
Since the Union the city has considerably increased, particularly on the north along the shore of the river, where several warehouses, stores, and merchants' residences have been erected: on the west is also a considerable suburb, in which, within the last fifteen years, some new streets have been formed; and on the eastern bank of the river is another, called Waterside. The walls, which are well built and in a complete state of repair, are nearly 1800 yards in circuit, 24 feet high, and of sufficient thickness to form an agreeable promenade on the top.
The four original gates have been rebuilt on an enlarged and more elegant plan, and two more added; but the only two that are embellished are Bishop's gate and Ship-quay gate, the former, built by subscription in 1788, being the centenary in commemoration of the siege. In 1628 the Irish Society was ordered to erect guard and sentinel houses, of which two are yet remaining; and of the several bastions, the north-western was demolished in 1824, to make room for the erection of a butter market; and in 1826 the central western bastion was appropriated to the reception of a public testimonial in honour of the celebrated George Walker. A few guns are preserved in their proper positions, but the greater number are used as posts for fastening cables and protecting the corners of streets.
The houses are chiefly built of brick: the entire number in the city and suburbs is 2947. The city is watched, paved, cleansed, and lighted with gas, under the superintendence of commissioners of general police, consisting of the mayor and 12 inhabitants chosen by ballot: the gas-works were erected in 1829, at an expense of £7000, raised in shares of £11. Water is conveyed to the town across the bridge by pipes, from a reservoir on Brae Head, beyond the Waterside, in the parish of Clondermot; the works were constructed by the corporation under an act of the 40th of George III., at a total expense of £15,500, and iron pipes have been laid down within the last few years.
The bridge, a celebrated wooden structure erected by Lemuel Cox, an American, in lieu of a ferry which the corporation held under the Irish Society, was begun in 1789, and completed in the spring of 1791. It is 1068 feet in length, and 40 in breadth: the piles are of oak, and the head of each is tenoned into a cap piece 40 feet long and 17 inches square, supported by three sets of girths and braces; the piers, which are 165 feet apart, are bound together by thirteen string-pieces equally divided and transversely bolted, on which is laid the flooring: on each side of the platform is a railing 4 ½ feet high, also a broad pathway provided with gas lamps.
Near the end next to the city a turning bridge has been constructed in place of the original drawbridge, to allow of the free navigation of the river. On the 6th of Feb., 1814, a portion of the bridge extending to 350 feet was carried away by large masses of ice floated down the river by the ebb tide and a very high wind. The original expense of its erection was £16,594, and of the repairs after the damage in 1814, £18,208, of which latter sum, £15,000 was advanced as a loan by Government: the average annual amount of tolls from 1831 to 1834, inclusive, was £3693. Plans and estimates for the erection of a new bridge, nearly 200 yards above the present, have been procured; but there is no prospect of the immediate execution of the design.
A public library and news room, commenced in 1819 by subscription and established on its present plan in 1824, by a body of proprietors of transferable shares of 20 guineas each, is provided with about 2660 volumes of modern works and with periodical publications and daily and weekly newspapers: it is a plain building faced with hewn Dungiven sandstone, erected by subscription in 1824, at an expense of nearly £2000, and, besides the usual apartments, contains also the committee-room of the Chamber of Commerce. The lower part of the building is used as the news-room, to which all the inhabitants are admitted on payment of five guineas annually.
A literary society for debates and lectures was instituted in 1834, and the number of its members is rapidly increasing. Concerts were formerly held at the King's Arms hotel, but have been discontinued. Races are held on a course to the north of the town. Walker's Testimonial, on the central western bastion, was completed in 1828 by subscription, at an expense of £1200: it consists of a column of Portland stone of good proportions, in the Roman Doric style, surmounted by a statue of that distinguished governor by John Smith, Esq., of Dublin: the column is ascended by a spiral staircase within, and, including the pedestal, is 81 feet in height, in addition to which the statue measures nine feet.
The city is in the northern military district, and is the head-quarters of a regiment of infantry which supplies detachments to various places: the barracks are intended for the accommodation of four officers and 320 men, with an hospital for 32 patients, but from their insufficiency a more commodious edifice is about to be erected, for which ground has been provided in the parish of Clondermot. The manufactures are not very considerable: the principal is that of meal, for which there are several corn-mills, of which one erected by Mr. Schoales in 1831, and worked by a steam-engine of 18-horse power, and another subsequently by Mr. Leatham, worked by an engine of 20-horse power, are the chief: the recent extension of this branch of trade has made meal an article of export instead of import, as formerly; in 1831, 553 tons were imported, and in 1834 6950 tons were exported.
In William-street are a brewery and distillery; there are copper-works which supply the whole of the north-west of Ulster, and afford regular employment to 27 men; two coach-factories; and a corn-mill and distillery at Pennyburn, and another at Waterside. A sugar-house was built in 1762, in what is still called Sugar-house-lane, but was abandoned in 1809; the buildings were converted into a glass-manufactory in 1820, but this branch of business was carried on for a few years only.
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From a sad, comfortless childhood Giles Truelove developed into a reclusive and uncommunicative man whose sole passion was books. For so long they were the only meaning to his existence. But when fate eventually intervened to have the outside world intrude upon his life, he began to discover emotions that he never knew he had.
A touching story for the genuine booklover, written by an Irish bookseller under the pseudonym of Ralph St John Featherstonehaugh.
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