The Isle of Man
Family History Society

Notes from presentations - 2022

  • January 2022 – A postcard tour of the Isle of Man with Peter Kelly MBE, CP
  • February 2022 – From Maughold to Myshore – with Anne Craine
  • July 2022 – ’10 minute talks’
  • August 2022 – A history of the Isle of Man fire service with Peter Killey
  • November 2022 – From giants footsteps to killing stones – a meander around the hidden corners of Mann by Katie Newton

January 2022 – Wish you were here: a postcard tour of the Isle of Man

Peter shared his huge postcard collection with us- pointing out lots of points of interest as he went.

Some examples were:

luggage and heavy goods unloaded using a steam crane; 1907 a glazed veranda built at the end of the Pier;1905 Cunningham’s Camp opened on three fields at Victoria Road, becoming the Douglas Internee Camp in WWI where internees spent the first winter. Asbestos huts were built which Cunningham inherited. Shoprite is where the Ladies Camp was and below the road was the men’s. Marine Drive, bathing, Victoria Street with the cable cars shown. Peter explained how the cars operated. Bank of Mona- later Tynwald building and a choice of services to attend on a Sunday- Braddan was very popular for its outside service. The six sisters (which were trees) at the Nunnery.

His tour headed out to Crosby and Greeba, Glen Helen (1876 Glen Helen Pleasure Gardens Company) who built The Swiss Chalet. There was a sawmill there that became a bowling alley. Peter was told off for using the word ‘beach’ rather than ‘shore’ by a Manx person. Close Chairn Mill was converted into a holiday camp where the power station is at Peel. Patrick burials of Knockaloe internees shown before bodies were repatriated after the war. A tower was built in Foxdale to commemorate Queen Victoria.

Rushen Abbey gardens with a grave lid and ornamental gardens with dancing and cream teas. Mr Quine used the Mill Pond at Silverdale and built the wooden horse carousel. Red Herring Houses at Derbyhaven. In Victorian times there were no trading standards- example of  Hangoside photograph of semis with two bay windows shown to make the houses look bigger than they were.

Castletown Police Station showing the weights and measures office. In 1886 the first museum started in the Castle before moving to Douglas. The lifeboat house was tucked behind the Castle but they built the new one so the boat couldn’t launch at low tide. Ronagency started unloading freight in Castletown but it was tide dependant and disturbed the neighbours.

Peter visited The Witches Mill when he was 12 (although not allowed as there were rude things in there!) In Colby there were lots of thatched cottages. Port St Mary is little changed apart from the time he wrote clues for a treasure hunt. One door had a pixie doorknocker which no one spotted- that was because in the week between they fitted a new plastic door!

Why is the lighthouse by the Nook Café? It was in line with the now washed-away pier so the fishermen could line them up. Rowing boats for hire were at Fleshwick- any way that money could be made and that why we have so many Manx Glens.

Images of sheets from the hotels drying on the beach stones. A surplus of planes after WWI one could pay £5 for a trip round the bay taking off from the beach. This lasted for two years but stopped as the sheets were blowing away and hoteliers complained.

Onchan Head started with Mr Simcox and a little stage where there was a show. Gradually buildings were added. Groudle miniature Railway showing Polar Bears. The half circle rose garden at Laxey gardens was the same diameter as the Laxey Wheel.

Post card of the children’s home and lots of children- a peculiar card to send surely? Glen Wyllin Village with a collection of cottages and one 1930’s bungalow. There was a surplus of lorries after WWI which was the origin of the many charabancs who toured the Island.

February 2022 Speaker: Anne Craine ‘From Maughold to Mysore’.

Anne explained that the images are hers and Davey’s 2018 Holiday snaps- not an academic work. There was a book written about Mark Cubbon – It’s has a lot of information but is quite heavy going (From Mann to Mysore:Thrower, L.B.(2006) the Indian careers of Col Mark Wilks FRS and Lt General Sir Mark Cubbon. London, Centre for Manx Studies monographs 4 ISBN 1-899338-12-8)

Sir Mark Cubbon is well known as his grave in Maughold near her family. Retirement cottages on Waterloo Road were built in his memory by his sisters in Ramsey.He held the province of Mysore during the Indian uprising in 1857-8. Renamed Carnatica after independence. Begalaru is the capital city= previously Bangalore. Mysore was capital of its district.

Mark Cubbon was patronised by Col Mark Wilkes. 1782 commissioned to the Madras Army. Mark Wilks rose through the ranks and became private secretary to Clive of India. He built Kirby, was an MHK and was governor of St Helena when Napoleon was prisoner there. His daughter Laura became Lady Buchan.

Nephew was Mark Cubbon. Father Thomas. Born in Maughold in 1801 and became an Indian cadet. In 1827 commissioner to Mysore.

Anne and Davey visited Mysore to see what remained. Took a half day city tour first of all, then they saw Cubbon Road and the shabby remains of the officers club. They went to Government House- built by Cubbon as a private residence and were allowed to look at the outside of the house and gardens (amid lots of security). They wanted to visit Nandigrew- his summer residence but they were unable. The Governors ADC asked to meet them and invited them in for coffee

They visited Cubbon Metro Station and Cubbon Park and the equestrian statue from the grounds of the High Court. In June 2020 it was moved to Cubbon Park and the courts of Justice.

Mysore market was full of people and sacred cows and they visited the palace.

By 1861 he was not well and returned home. He was always quiet about his Manx family. He died at Suez in 1805 and his body was sent home with due ceremony. He had supported many charities and individuals on the quiet. Mysore shut down for three days in memory of him he was so well thought of.

Questions: He never married and Anne thinks he was quite shy. Karen Corkill shared a story about her father visiting when he met another Manxman there. Her son is married to a girl from Bangalore.

July 2022 – 10 minute talks

Annie Kissack – Annie Kissack handed over some Kissack photos sent from America. A note on who they were sent to on the island was followed up with a letter and she has been able to name some. She brought them to display. They include Cain and Windsor families.

Nigel Crowe: Someone who calls themselves a correspondent. Balleira – Nigel shared a gem from the newspapers from Mona’s Herald 30 January 1835.

One of the principal areas of the Island- Ballaugh oak made a bed stead slept in by the Duke of Athol when visiting the island.  Cooil Avenue and Cannan Avenue area was occupied by Captain. Moaney Mollagh was Considered poor and barren and used to raise sheep. There was apparently lways good water at Balleira.

Mr William Kneen lives in the mansion house visits the village occasionally to drink grog and socialise. He tells a story about his apprenticeship.

Nigel is researching the area- there are two Balliera’s and he has visited both for a site visit. Corletts and some other families mentioned in the papers.

Paul Lewin: Some more news on Breary’s Chemists Paul referred to his talk ‘A medicinal Mixture’ which also appeared as an article in the journal. 1904 Bearey died and the pharmacy was taken over by Henry Kerruish but was still called W A Breary and son. A relative of Henry Kerruish told Paul that he had committed suicide in the shop.

Breary’s cash book contains names and addresses- Mrs Hutchen, 24 Derby Square used the book too- he thought it was chemist accounts but was actually household accounts from a pharmacist’s wife with two pharmacy assistant daughters (Edith and Alice) and one at school. Hutchen just continued to trade under Breary’s name.

Alice qualified in 1912- Arthur died in 1913 of an apoplectic seizure so the daughter ran the shop. George Hurt was a solider who met Edith and married her in 1919 and took her to America. Alice continued to run the shop and was in trouble in 1939 for not covering goods not allowed to be sold on a Sunday. Fined 5 shillings. In 1943 she contravened the black-out regulations. She died in Paris in 1951 whilst on holiday. Amy was appointed Domestic Science helper in England after passing lots of exams and was later a teacher at Murray’s Road Domestic School and then Murray’s Road School. In 1938 she passed an exam on electrical housecraft for teachers. Elaine Moore was taught by her- Miss Hutchen burnt her Christmas cake! She lived at Baldrine.

Jack Kaighin: Comments on some contents of recent journals. Strange to see mention of a 3.5 lb bag of flour- Jack gave us some thoughts on the different weights and measures of flour and sugar. RG Corlett’s used to deliver flour and put them in white cotton bags and were great for making aprons, pillow-cases and sheets so few were returned. 70% of the wheat was Manatoba wheat from Canada and imported to the mill at Laxey.

Dowty’s had an advert in the last journal for people to help celebrate an anniversary . Sir George Dowty started off with £50 in Cheltenham at Allcote House and he had dozens of factories there in the war. His brother Robert Dowty had a photographic company and lived on the Isle of Man. Bill (Jack’s son) was an apprentice in the company at Onchan and then Cheltenham for Dowty Fuel Systems. He worked on fuel systems for Harrier jump jets. He is a consultant with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Jack was a baker and sold up in 1975 and then worked for Dowty’s for 20 years from 1980. 200 people worked there on the heat treatment plant and electroplating. Jack used to make lots of wedding cakes for the people he worked with there. Princess Anne visited and all the staff were given a commemorative glass.  

Jack talked about an accident where a component failed and ammonia gas escaped from the plant. It sealed itself after a while and Jack was sent to hospital but was fine. He enjoyed many happy years at the factory becoming safety officer and the factories own ‘Father Christmas’.

Michael read out a piece on Witchcraft from Hampton Creer who is writing a new book Smythe ‘useth witchcraft’ and was presented in the church Chapter court Ballaugh. Brian Smythe sent him to court at Castle Rushen. He gave a bond to the Registrar to promise not to use charms again or else be fined and gaoled in 1682.

A Corlett called out during Divine Worship and abused the Vicar General. Compounded for 4s 6d and to wear a white sheet in public in Michael. Thomas Corlett did turn up in white but threw the sheet to the ground.

Juliet and Tommy Thompson: Juliet wrote an article for December called ‘lost and found’. Philip Hugh Soorne of the Royal Engineers was Juliet’s great uncle. Chris Lyon spotted some medals on Chrystal’s Auction website- Juliet had mentioned her family member to Chris. They had been bought by an 8 year old boy who kept them for 50 years. There was a bidding war- thankfully won by the Thompson’s. Philip Hugh was only boy in the family who had 4 sisters so the name Soorne name died out. He died in 1919. Tommy and Juliet had been to see the area in Italy where he was killed.

August 2022 – Peter Killey; A History of the Isle of Man Fire Service

Joined as a retained Firefighter in 1984 and then wholetime in 1985. Peter said it was the best job in the world! He was promoted and eventually worked in community fire safety.

In 1803 there was an agent of Sun Fire Office provided Insurance. You had to have a firemark above your door to show it was insured of they wouldn’t put out your fire. There are some still around- the Vicar at Peel collects them. Each Island commissioners had a hand cart In 1848 a public meeting led to the first fire truck was purchased. There was a beautiful fire cart at Laxey which no-one wants but is in a  garage. The unified Fire Service started in 1950 and by 1988, IOM Fire and Rescue was formed- also Hill search and water rescue.

Peter talked about the uniforms (black) helmets made of brass or cork. The Albion Pub used to be called The Fireman’s Arms around the corner from John Street. Peter had some great photographs showing different vehicles. Fire axes were not used for breaking in buildings but for throwing over rood ridges!

The Douglas fire station was built in 1975 and is badly designed- vehicles have to be backed in

55 fulltime, 111 retained firefighters and 5 civilians

Trained to deal with Fires, road traffic accidents, high rise ladders (35 ft), building collapse, chemical protection, and line rescue.  Hill rescue and fire safety teams too.

Cases of arson have reduced thankfully.

Notable Fires:

 2nd August 1973 was the Summerland Disaster. It was  20 minutes before a 999 call came in from Duggan’s Taxi. 50 people died. It was the worse British peacetime disaster since 1923. Oroglass was the problem- offcuts were even being burned as it was being built so people knew it was flammable..

Ruth McQuillan Wilson was left to die- she has written a book on the topic and gives Peter full permission to use her story. Les Quayle was the first office attending. Richard Davies was the first Police Constable on thescene.

1993 B & B furniture, 1987 Laxey pipe Factory, Mooragh Hotel in Ramsey (early 1980’s), Peter showed a photograph taken at Douglas Fire Station showing Michael Ventre who many may remember. Laxey Flour Mills in 1921. 2003 Delemere Hotel. Ridsdales 1967 at the top of Railway Hill. In 1938 a fireman called Robert Kenna died on duty due to electrocution on North Quay- a plaque at the end of Ridgeway Street.

FSFO campaign in the 1980’s- 6 houses burned by arson. Douglas Bay Hotel 1988. Howsdrake Holiday Camp in 1980.Woolworths 1951- there were two sets of steps into the basements. When welding the brass handrail they used a tarpaulin to separate the work from the public. TinyTims motorcycle garage, Laxey Wheel café in 1985, also Parkfield House.

Ballaugh Smithy by the bridge, The Old Rectory, Ballaterson Manor  

Questions:

How did you get a plaque on your house- apply to Sun for a fire insurance policy. Discussion about building materials and The Grenfell disaster. FireBobbys- did policemen used to act as firemen after work?     

Less fires now but still lots of bad car accidents. Problems with fires on the Railways cause lots of call outs.

Peter advises heavy appliances like washing machines and particularly tumble dryers cause fires- e careful not to have them running whilst you are out or your insurance may be invalid!

Terence McDonald gave the vote of thanks: Praise for armed services, fire services and police service. He related a tale about a fire at Roseberry Buildings (perhaps not able to sell it) – it was a little boy and Terence “got him off”. Falcon Cliff Hotel- two boys went in with a candle-also not burned down by the owners which is a belief lots of the Manx public have when big fires in empty buildings occur.

November 2022 – From Giants footsteps to Killing stones: A meander around the hidden corners of Mann by Katie Newton

Katie’s aim was to plan take the viewer off the beaten track. Imagine a map of the Island with folklore and stories marked rather than physical objects- she showed us her version. Katie has been undertaking a folklore project with James Franklin and Sam Hudson exploring these places and recording them as they are today.

The planning for places to visit was done by consulting old books, Gill’s scrapbooks, and Tourist Guides. The list that follows includes some of the sites that Katie told us about showing photographs and videos of their visits. Watch out for a future publication for all the full stories.

The Crosh, Lonan– just off the Ballagawn Road- a coffin rest for those on the way to Lonan parish church. Note of this was recorded in the Folk Life Survey(FLS).

Cleigh ny Fainney- Patrick. Sophia Morrison mentions the Fynoddorree with a big stone with blood on it- but FLS says just stained with rusty water. Mr Moore of Gordon relates the story of travelling on a lonely road at Dalby and the strange sights he saw.

Sartfield Quarry in Michael opened 1869 and Jack Quayle’s record in the FLS. He talked about the offices and a belfry. There was a day and night shift and at night he found a landslide and went to get men to help but found all men at home safe and sound. They had heard a child crying and had ran home scared- perhaps the sound of the earth moving before the landslide so the sound averted a disaster.

Creg y Foawyr– thrown into Renab Glen- squeezed by a giant’s hand

Lag Evil, Patrick .Described as the big hollow in a field by Cregeen in the FLS. Manx scrapbook describes fairies as tourists getting shelter at Patrick

Gob ny Scuit in Michael had a buggane- the ghost of a murderer which was heard in bad weather saying “don’t you annoy me and I won’t annoy you” (in Gaelic). Dora Brown (T E Browns daughter) climbed up to North Barrule, The farmer saw them sparkling with diamonds.

The Cursing stone at Raby at Glen Maye near the Keill, It’s a very large stone- a mass of granite with a depression in it. Was it the base of a cross or font or a cursing stone? Old celts used it thus

Dub ny Marroo, Bride. The road of the dead- the route for funerals and water from the pool was sprinkled on the body.

The grave in the mountains at Lonan. Gill wrote about finding a stone upright in the ling which was said to mark the site of the burial of a man who died in a snowstorm- Philip Stole in 1814.

St Patrick’s footprint in Rushen- it looks like a concrete dog kennel. Bridson Lowey-an enterprising farmer- rerouted the path and had a penny slot for light to illuminate the footprint to visitors.

Giant’s footprint, Glen Mooar, Michael. The farmer had heard that it was the footprint of the last Viking chieftain. Yn Lioor Manninagh says it’s caused by ‘natural agencies’.

Ballig Well, Onchan. Sophia Morrison spent her early years there and wrote to Mona Douglas about the impressive well which has  places to leave milk and butter and offerings. The well was in use until the 1950’s.

The Killing Stone, Patrick. Paul Costain had been told that man and beast were decapitated there

Creg ny Crock stone, Patrick– one of the Wesley’s preached there.

Suicide Graves Barroose, Lonan. The roads have changed. The burial of two sucides is mentioned but not recorded in any burial registers that Katie can find

The Bridal/Bridle Stone, Surby. Kermode described it. It has a hole in it where horses were tied when there was a funeral. Women went to put their hand in the hole for good luck

Lhiabee Pherick– St Patrick’s bed

The Drowning Pool, Lonan. The farmer said a family member had drowned himself there.

The Nikkesen Pool, Lonan. Made Katie feel really uncomfortable. There was a watersprite supposed to be there – refreshments could be had there in Victorian times.The sprite appeared as a horse or man and would lure young girls there to drown.

Lhergy Veg, Lonan– you can see them from the tram when going up towards Snaefell. A weaver’s house was there and the fairy doctor and fairy tailor, Fiddlers could be heard. They heard a great noise and the hearth stones began to heave up- they ran away but when they returned they saw a giant man and a woman wearing things like horses blinkers and bridles. They ran away again to Agneash

Raby House, Lonan. Said to be inhabited by a old woman and her servant. They had loads of spinning to do. The servant ran away so the woman asked the spiders or fairies to help and they did.

The Trowley Pots, Patrick. Very dangerous to visit so Katie showed us a video.

Garroo Clagh, Rushen where there was a rockfall which wiped out lots of the Peel Herring Fleet who were sheltering there. They shouldn’t have gone out on a Sunday.

The Wishing Stones, Dhoon, Maughold.. Two huge stones are said to be the fingers of the giant. They are 19 feet high. A custom was to squeeze between them.

Lhiaght y Kinry, Braddan. The grave of Kinley. Wagered to run from Braddan to Bishopscourt and back – naked, This is the spot he fell down dead

Cave of the Carpenters, Patrick. Fairies were making barrels in the cave- or building new boats. Or making coffins- not for themselves!!

Chibbyr Feeayr, Malew. A green lady has been seen there

The Kellya, Patrick. Gill tells the story of a poltergeist in the little cottage. Iron was nailed to the door- and then steel which made matters worse as the poltergeist couldn’t get out. The man was advised to thrust out behind him with a steel knife but not to look. He did this and a neighbour was found dead shortly afterwards.

The Granane, Lonan. The house there was bothered by the Thallo Ushtey. They gave up and left in the end

Gob ny Ushtey, Patrick which is Katie’s favourite spot with a tiny stream falling into the sea. It is named in Sophia Morrison’s Fairy Tales.