Unfortunately I’m very aware of the skill, patience and precision that is required to produce accurate technical drawings by hand. Whilst completing my Diploma in Interior Design I was required to learn the ‘art’ of technical drawing and I quickly learned that I wasn’t a fan of technical drawing the ‘old fashioned’ way. It was a time-consuming, gut-wrenching and prematurely aging process. An eraser became my best friend; trust me, I didn’t want it to become my best friend. As soon as I realised that devising to scale floor plans and elevations were going to feature heavily in my studies (and the lasting indents that were appearing on my fingertips) that I decided to bite the bullet and teach myself AutoCAD.
BUT it’s only because I have experience (whilst limited) of creating technical drawings by hand that I can fully appreciate, admire and respect this craft.
But nothing prepared me for the mix of emotions that I experienced when I was able to hold and scrutinise original technical drawings and elevations dating back to 1890. Some of the drawings were dog-eared; some crinkled and if very unlucky a little torn. Most of the drawings were in bundles that were tied with string or ribbon and after untying these little historic bundles I gingerly unfolded each one like my life depended on it. They all had that unique aged smell and every time I leafed through another drawing or unfolded another section the fresh aroma of ’history’ wafted into the air.
The drawings I’m referring to are of course the original plans of the proposed extension to the Belfast Harbour Office. All of these drawings were dated 1890 and were signed by the architect, WH Lynn. Even the elaborate annotations on each drawing and associated neatly handwritten memos stopped me in my tracks; fluid lines, delicate sweeping curves and the odd ink smudge here and there that only served to heighten the sense of history surrounding these Victorian documents.
It was a no-brainer; as soon as I stumbled upon these documents courtesy of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, I paid to have each and every one photocopied.
And here they are in all their dog-eared, crinkly glory.
Kinda makes the all-singing and all-dancing AutoCAD floor plan very unimpressive, right?