Cllr McCarthy: Former ESB Sub Station Should be a Major City Cultural Asset, 24 May 2020

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has called on the City Council and the ESB to work on a joint programme of works to return the sub-station on Caroline Street to an art gallery/ cultural space.’

The sub station on Caroline Street is in the ownership of the ESB. Until recently the Sub Station was advertised for Commercial Let. Cllr McCarthy has been informed that Cork City Council does not have sight of the ESB’s plans for the building. And that the wider needs in terms of cultural infrastructure in the city will be reviewed in the context of the forthcoming Arts & Culture Strategy, currently under development.

Cllr McCarthy noted; “there is massive scope to do a joint partnership in re-opening the disused ESB substation as a cultural space. It has a very rich industrial history. It was built in 1931 and was originally used to convert direct current electricity to alternating current. This substation is representative of the design employed by the ESB in the first part of the twentieth century in Ireland.

“In 1932, the ESB could boast cables running from Ardnacrusha Hydro Electric Station to Cork as well as having the old generating station and offices at Albert Road, a Station at Kilbarry, a transformer station at Fords, and the central substation in Caroline Street. The annual consumption of electricity in Cork City was 8 million units by 1934 and 16 million units by 1945”.

“The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage notes of this building: “This functional building is a well-articulated building, with a high level of architectural design. The building retains many interesting original features and materials, such as the metal casement windows and metal folding doors”.

“It is also ten years ago when the Triskel Arts Centre, whilst waiting for the renovation of Christ Church, moved its gallery off site to the ESB substation on Caroline Street and did a great job in utilising the space. In addition, in 2018, Brown Thomas teamed up with Cork City Council and artist Shane O’Driscoll to transform the exterior of the then disused ESB station building which had fallen into disrepair. The City Centre Placemaking Fund from Cork City Council was used to support the project”.

“It is a real shame that such a prominent building remains vacant with so many possibilities for its use. I will be continuing my lobbying of the City Council to partner up with the ESB in finding an appropriate cultural use for the building”, concluded Cllr McCarthy.

Press, 25 May 2021, “The abandoned substation has massive scope for transformation now that Cllr. Kieran McCarthy is urging the city council and ESB to turn it into a new entertainment venue for Leesiders. Originally built in 1931 in the art deco style favoured by ESB at the time, the substation was last used by Triskel Arts ten years ago”, Endless possibilities for this gem of a building on Caroline Street to be transformed as council consider new proposal, Derelict Art-deco substation could become amazing Cork city music and arts space – Cork Beo

Caroline Street Former ESB Sub Station, Cork present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)
Caroline Street Former ESB Sub Station, Cork present day (picture: Kieran McCarthy)