Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Chief Engineer to the Dublin Port and Docks Board, 1852-1898. Bindon Blood Stoney, second son of George Stoney, of Oakley Park, Co. Offaly, by his wife Anne, daughter of Bindon Blood ('The Vampire'!), of Cranagher, Co. Clare, was born at Oakley Park on 13 June 1828. His father died while he was still a boy, and his widowed mother, having sold the family property, moved with her four children to Dublin. Stoney entered Trinity College, Dublin, on 1 July 1845. After the obligatory year in Arts, he entered the School of Engineering, obtaining the Diploma in Civil Engineering in 1850. As his financial circumstances ruled out an engineering apprenticeship, he spent the next two years as assistant astronomer to William Parsons, third Earl of Rosse, who had built a seventy-two-inch reflecting telescope in the grounds of Birr Castle, Co. Offaly. This was followed by a brief spell of surveying work for the Aranjuez to Almansa railway in Spain. In 1854 he was appointed resident engineer on the Boyne Viaduct under JAMES BARTON  JAMES BARTON and was involved in the design of the innovative system of lattice beams which was used for the superstructure. The bridge was opened in April 1855.

In January 1856 the Dublin Ballast Board, which was responsible for both the port of Dublin and for all the lighthouses around the Irish coast, advertised for an assistant for its engineer and inspector of works, GEORGE HALPIN [2] GEORGE HALPIN [2] . Halpin was in poor health, and the new post was intended to relieve him of some of his increasing responsibilities at the port of Dublin. Stoney, one of seventy-three applicants for the post, was eventually selected after the Board's first choice, JOHN RAMSAY JOHN RAMSAY , had withdrawn. His first task was as resident engineer for the completion of the new graving dock. In 1859 he was promoted to executive engineer and given the authority to sign accounts. Halpin seems to have found it difficult to delegate all responsibility for the port to Stoney, and in 1861-62 a difference of opinion arose between the two men over Stoney's proposals for the future development of the docks and his proposed new method of constructing deep-water quays. Halpin retired in 1862, and Stoney was then appointed the Board's chief engineer.(1)

Stoney remained in the post of chief engineer to the Ballast Board (reconstituted in 1869 as the Dublin Port and Docks Board) for just over thirty-six years. In December 1898 he sought permission to retire and was succeeded by his assistant, JOHN PURSER GRIFFITH JOHN PURSER GRIFFITH , the following year. During his tenure of the post, half the quays along the Liffey were converted into deep-water quays, using the novel method of underwater construction which he had first advocated in 1861. Massive concrete blocks, 350 tons in weight, were made on a block wharf and then moved to their destination by means of specially designed floating shears. They were lowered into position on the river bed, which had been previously levelled by workmen using a special diving bell which Stoney devised for this purpose.(2) Stoney described his method in a paper, 'On the construction of harbour and marine works with artificial blocks of large size', delivered to the Institution of Civil Engineers in London in 1874, which gained him the Institution's Telford Medal and Premium for that year. The method was used for the extension of the North Quay and the construction of the Alexandra Basin and for the foundations of the North Bull lighthouse. Stoney also introduced a more efficient system for dredging the shipping channel within the harbour, designing hopper barges of unprecedented capacity to carry the dredgings out to sea. Other works which he designed included the rebuilding of Essex and Carlisle Bridges and the construction of the Beresford (or Butt) Swing Bridge. He also was reponsible for introducing a graduated pensions scheme for his workers.

Although his contract with the Board stipulated that he should work full-time in the Board's service, Stoney nevertheless acted as a consultant for works at many Irish harbours, and also gave evidence to a number of Parliamentary committees. His pupils and assistants included John Purser Griffith, Isaac John Mann. GEORGE GERALD STONEY  GEORGE GERALD STONEY and JOSEPH HENRY MOORE JOSEPH HENRY MOORE .

Stoney died at home in Dublin on 5 May 1909 and was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery on 10 May. He had married Susannah Frances, daughter of John Francis Walker, QC, of Grangemore, Co. Dublin, in 1879 and had a son, George Bindon Stoney, who predeceased him by some four months, and three daughters. He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1881 and was a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Inst.CE:(3) elected associate, 12 January 1858; transferred to class of member, 17 November 1863; awarded Telford Medal and Premium, 1874, for his paper, 'On the construction of harbour and marine works with artificial blocks of large size'; council member for several years.
ICEI:(4) elected member, 1857; council member, 1860-1861,1876,1885-1887,1889-1891,1894-1908; hon. secretary, 1862-1870; president, 1871-1873.
RDS: vice-president.
Geological Society of Dublin (later Royal Geological Society of Ireland): council member, 1863-1868.(5.)

Addresses: 89 Waterloo Road, Dublin, 1856; 63 Wellington Road, 1864-1866; 42 Wellington Road, 1866; 14 Elgin Road, 1881.



All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from R.C. Cox, Bindon Blood Stoney: Biography of a Port Engineer (Dublin, Institution of Engineers of Ireland, 1990), which see for a more detailed account of Stoney's lifeand career. Obituaries of Stoney appear in IB 51, 15 May 1909, 298, Min.Proc.Inst.CE 177 (1908-9, Pt. III), 287-290 and TICEI 35 (1908-1909), 177-181. A photograph and biography of Stoney is in E. Macdowel Cosgrave, ed., Dublin and County Dublin in the Twentieth Century (1908), 261

(1) There is a discrepancy - perhaps due to a misprint - between Cox's dates for these events and those given by H.A. Gilligan, A History of the Port of Dublin (1988), 128.
(2) The diving bell is still (2003) on the site of the docks.
(3) From obituary in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 177.
(4) ICEI lists of members and office bearers and Jones's transcripts from Thom's directories.
(5) Jones's transcripts from Thom's directories.

9 work entries listed in chronological order for STONEY, BINDON BLOOD

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Date: 1861
Nature: New timber wharves.
Refs: DB 3, 15 Apr 1861, 486

Date: 1868
Nature: New fishing boat piers in course of construction. Plans by BBS. Contrtactor: John Cunningham. Cost:£1853.
Refs: IB 10, 15 Sep 1868, 233; B 26, 19 Sep 1868, 692

Date: 1871-1884
Nature: Extension made with enormous concrete blocks; '…the making of the block…the lifting of it and laying in its place, is carried out…by means of machinery specially devised by Mr Stoney'. Alexandra basin named at cermony attended by Prince & Princess of Wales, 11 Apr 1885
Refs: IB 21, 15 Mar 1879, 83; 16, 25 Feb 1884, 46; R.C. Cox, Bindon Blood Stoney: Biography of a Port Engineer (Dublin, Institution of Civil Engineers, 1990), 18,19-21,23

Date: 1873-74
Nature: Rebuilding to design by BBS (modified from design of Parke Neville). Contractor: William J. Doherty. Opened Oct 1874 (before erection of ironwork)
Refs: IB 15, 15 May 1873, 134; 16, 15 Sep,1,15 Oct 1874, 250,264,280,330; 17, 15 Mar 1875, ?; R.C. Cox, Bindon Blood Stoney: Biography of a Port Engineer (Dublin, Institution of Civil Engineers, 1990), 28-31(illus.)

Date: 1877
Nature: Adds.and alts. including lowering of and alts. to approaches, new superstructure corresponding to width of Sackville St, central footway with 3 5-light lamps 'in the highest style of Parisian art'. Renamed O'Connell Bridge. Facsimile keystones by C.W. Harrison.
Refs: IB 19, 1,15 May 1877, 133,142; 21, 15 Mar 1879, 83; 23, 1 Jan 1881, ?; B 36, 22 Jun 1878, 641; R.C. Cox, Bindon Blood Stoney: Biography of a Port Engineer (Dublin, Institution of Civil Engineers, 1990), 31-35(illus.);  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005),572.

Date: 1878
Nature: New balance bridge carrying branch of Midland Great Western Railway over Royal Canal immediately below Newcomen Bridge. Cost: £877.16s. Contractor: Courtney, Stephens & Bailey, Dublin.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 58 (1878-79., Pt. IV), 285-6(illus.)

Date: 1878-89
Nature: New four-storey iron tower built on masonry base resting on 2 large foundation blocks.
Refs: IB 21, 15 Mar 1879, 83

Date: 1879a
Nature: New swivel bridge, opened, 26 Aug 1879. General contractor: W.J. Doherty. Ironwork supplied by Skerne Ironworks Co., Darlington, and put up under superintendence of their engineer, Mr Nabholz.. Closed to traffic, 1 Dec 1930 (Irish Times, 14 Apr 1930) and replaced by new bridge.
Refs: IB 19, 1,15 May 1877, 133,142,145(illus.)20, 15 Nov 1878, 333; 21, 15 Mar,1,,15 Sep 1879, 83,264,288; 41, 15 Apr 1899, 47; 35-37(illus.)

Date: 1888a
Nature: BBS consulted re building of same and 'suggested some modifications, which were adopted' by P.F. Comber, engineer to Bray Township Commissioners.
Refs: IB 30, 15 Feb 1888, 42

Author Title Date Details
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'Description of some experiments made at the Boyne Viaduct in 1854' 1858 TICEI 5 (1855-58), 135-143.
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'Observations of the Newcastle coal experiments' 1859 TICEI 5 (1855-59), 135-143.
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'Application of some formulae to the calculation of strains in braced girders' 1861 Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy 7 (1857-61), 165-172.
Stoney, Bindon Blood Report of the Ballast Committee of the Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port of Dublin 1861 Dublin, 1861.
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'On the construction of floating beacons' 1861 Min.Proc.Inst.CE 20 (1860-61), 300-308.
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'On the action of sea water on lime mortar' 1862 TICEI 7 (1861-62), 90-96.
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'On the strength of long pillars' 1864 Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy 8 (1861-64), 191-194, and DB 4, 15 Oct 1862, 266
Stoney, Bindon Blood The Theory of Strains in Girders and similar structures 1866 London: Longmans Green, 1866, 2 vols.; 2nd edition, 1869; another edition, 1873. Extracts published in IB 15, 1,15 Apr,1,15 May 1873, 87,101,115,129.
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'Description of an experiment on the strength of a lattice road girder at the Boyne Viaduct' 1870 TICEI 9 (1866-70), 10-16.
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'Relative deflection of lattice and plate girders' 1871 Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy 24, Pt. 1 (1858-71), 189-195v.
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'The profession, practice, and prospects of engineering in Ireland' 1872 TICEI 10 (1870-74), 45-64 and IB 14, 15 Apr,1,15 May 1972, 118,130,145. (President's inaugural address to ICEI.)
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'On the construction of harbour and marine works with artificial blocks of large size' 1874 Min.Proc.Inst.CE 37 (1873-74, Pt. I), 332-380 (illus.). (Abstract in IB 16, 15 Feb 1874, 60.)
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'On the application of Portland cement to marine works' 1874 TICEI 10 (1870-74), 29-40.
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'Report on the strength of single-riveted lap joints' 1875 Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy25(1871-1875), 451-458. (Summary in IB 17, 15 May 1875, ?.)
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'Recent improvements in the Port of Dublin' 1878 IB 20, 1 Sep 1878, 256-7. (Paper read to Mechanical Science section of British Association, 1878.)
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'Description of a new balance bridge over the Royal Canal, Dublin' 1879 Min.Proc.Inst.CE 58 (1878-79., Pt. IV), 285-6(illus.)
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'On the strength and proportions of rivetted joints' 1885 TICEI 16 (1884-85), 141-235.
Stoney, Bindon Blood Letter to IB re Carlisle Bridge main drainage 1901 IB 43, 13 Mar 1901, ?.
Stoney, Bindon Blood 'On the most economical span for long girder bridges with numerous spans of equal length' 1904 TICEI 32 (1904-5), 151-2, and IB 46, 17 Dec 1904, 868.