1916 - 1930: Building Communities
Kevin Street & Bull Alley estates originally provided a total of 586 apartments accommodating over 2,000 people. While the accommodation remained unchanged until the late 1920’s , the number of residents rose gradually. By 1930, there were 2,375 residents as families expanded. Between them, Bull Alley & Kevin Street estates offered a range of accommodation types making it possible to create a socially varied community, which many social reformers at the time felt to be desirable.
The Trust’s letting policy, following the founder’s intentions, gave preference to working-class applicants and excluded those whose income exceeded 25/- per week. Once tenants settled in to their dwellings they were not disturbed on account of wage increases in the family. The Iveagh dwellings were often occupied by successive generations, and descendants of the very first occupants still reside in Bull Alley and Kevin Street.
Careful management of the buildings and resident superintendents ensured good order and adequate standards of physical maintenance and sanitation. Superintendents had a sheriff’s power to eject occupiers where necessary. Residents of the Trust finally settled a long standing debate over whether high blocks of flats could ever furnish a healthy living environment for Dublin’s poor – providing blocks were supervised and reasonably maintained, the answer was clearly positive.
Sound Financial Footing
A modest return on capital of about 3.5% was seen by the Founder as essential if the Trust was to undertake further building. This financial policy did suffice. In 1909 for example, the capital of the Trust amounted to £196,945 and surplus income for the year amounted to £3,506. By 1925 capital stood at £290,464 with a net income from rents & investments of £83,000, a position in which expansion could be realistically undertaken.
Crumlin: 1926 – 1936
In 1925 the Trustees resolved to build further dwellings. It was debated whether these should be cottages on the city outskirts or another block of flats in the city. A suburban cottage scheme was decided on and promptly built, but this was soon followed by the building of new city flats.
A site of about 30 acres of open land was purchased from Messrs. A. Guinness on the Crumlin Road on the south-western outskirts of Dublin. Here the Trust decided to build two-storied family houses of four or five rooms with small gardens, so called cottage dwellings. The project was consistent with the basic intention of the Trust’s founder, namely to provide dwellings not only in crowded neighbourhoods but in places of easy access to the centres of labour.
Development at Crumlin Road stretched over a decade 1926 – 36. The architects were O’Callaghan and Webb of Dublin and the building was carried out by H. And J. Martin, a long-established building firm active in both the north & south of Ireland.
As a first step 42 houses were built, at a cost of £40,554. These were occupied by 1927 by which time a further 40 similar dwellings had been commissioned. By 1930 82 houses had been erected, accommodating a total of 426 people. The scheme was completed by 1936 providing a total of 136 houses, 52 with four rooms and 84 with five, and housing 637 people. Rents were considerably higher than in the tenement flats, ranging from 19/- for the four roomed houses to 21/ for five roomed houses. The total cost of the development was £134,000.
Death of the 1st Earl of Iveagh
In October 1927, shortly after the Crumlin houses were commenced, the 1st Earl of Iveagh, Edward Cecil Guinness, died. He had been chairman of the Trust since 1903 and a massive support to its activities. His son Rupert, Viscount Elveden, succeeded him. Rupert had been a trustee since 1919 and served as chairman from 1927 to 1962.