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Notes of Presentations at IOMFHS Meetings

August 2018 - Member's Evening: Boxed Memories

Peter Quayle: Peter talked about Ballakillpheric, Cronk y Dhooney, and places up past Walker’s Belle Abbey and The Slough. He recalled going to the pictures with Bill Corrin. They got a lift from a fella and Peter fell out of the cart- he didn’t cry despite being grazed and bleeding. Cronk y Dhooney farm is sometimes called Ballarobin. In his childhood on the farm there was no running water and the well was half a mile away. Mum loved the summer as she could send them to Gansey shore for a swim to get clean. Tommy Lowey, Police Inspector in Peel spent time at upper Kerkeil farm held by his brothers. Two spinsters there ran the post office. There was a fella called ‘The Cowboy’ up at Rongue who always went ‘round with a shotgun. Mosey Pitt had a motorbike and sidecar. There was a big row in the house as he had found six fleas in his daughter’s bed.

The Mariners Choir was formed by officers of the Steam Packet company. They went ‘round the Methodist chapels and Peter remembers them at Ballakillpheric. They held events which started with a meal, followed by the choir and then community singing. The Mariners Choir went up there about ten years ago. Alan Kelly was the leader and he knew Peter had gone to Sunday school there. Peter read the lesson and did a short talk (unusual- normally the Mariners do the lesson). Mrs Sewell was going to do one verse but she hadn’t finished her sandwiches so Peter had to go on straight away! The preacher mentioned Mrs Greenfield (her husband- the water engineer, had Greenfield Road named after him). He said she ‘couldn’t live in the house’- and was always out. Peter was her gardener. She “spoke a bit ‘far back’”. Coming back from The Guild one day, she asked about his singing skills. He said he could whistle- and she replied- “there isn’t a class for that!”

Peter talked about things that gripe him. Ballakilpherick chapel was the main social life for people. Church is ‘church’ (C of E) and chapel is ‘chapel’- they were always very separate entities. There are very few Manx preachers nowadays. People talk about ‘The Harvest Festival’- this is a modern thing- it’s a harvest HOME. He is a traditionalist -and makes no apology for that!

The Harvest Home was a big event- Peter talked about how they were “decced out” (or decorated). Lots of people who would get the bus, cycle or walk all the way up. They set up raised stages out in the field. 30 children at the Sunday School all would get on the stage and recite a story from the bible. He remembers the Sunday school picnic- Mums only came with the children because the Dads were working. There would be 2 or 3 charbancs. The main place was the Mooragh as it was big. “Silverdale was too small- you could get ‘round it in no time”.

Ann Craine: Ann alked about Sunday’s as a child- Ballajora Chapel in the morning and Maughold Church in the afternoon- “hedging our bets”. Anne is still clearing the attic at Ballafayle, clearing her father’s hoard of stuff. Anne talked Laxey School’s anniversary (1929-1979). She mentions £22 earned by the students picking blackberries for Rushen Abbey. Some jam was exported to India. The 1946 school awards list included Joy Brew, George Lawson, George Duggan, and Richard Corkill.

Miss Jean Thornton Duesbery was a kindly family friend and involved with the Scouts. Keith didn’t want to join the organisation. “But why” Miss T-D asked? “I want to tell lies” he replied. Miss T-D was the 3rd lady member of the House of Keys. She had been an Eastend midwife and had been shocked by the poverty. She called some infants ‘fish and chip babies’ as Mothers had only newspaper to wrap them in. She was a lady who had seen life. Anne’s son Ramsey was christened 35 years ago – Jean turned up with her father’s christening gown and gave it to Anne. Jean’s Father was the only Manx born Bishop and was born at Glen Helen- she imagines it was sewn by candlelight and it has since been used by Anne’s children and grandchildren. Anne brought salt and mustard pots to show us. Miss T-D had remembered them being in daily use at Bishopscourt.

Frank Cowin: Frank moved back to Laxey a few years after marriage- and lived there in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. He was working at Davidson and Marsh (Architects). The government had just bought the Laxey Wheel and he was “asked to look at Laxey”. He also volunteered with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and they did lots of expeditions and looked at the mines as part of that. He had to do a crash course so he knew more than they did! He spent a lot of time talking to people in the village- especially those who knew about the mines. Someone from the Chapel used to ask the mines to borrow wood to build the staging for Chapel events. Frank collects things with the Laxey Wheel in it including badges and coasters, paperweights, matchboxes.

Once they left Laxey they moved to Castletown. His view was of Castle Rushen. He got involved running a course about the life of the castle. Frank became president of the Antiquarian Society. When it was the Golden Anniversary, they produced a badge with a Knox design. Once badge each was held by committee members but had to be returned when people retired. The Hon Sec. died in office in centenary year and Frank had to step in. Magnus Magnusson, and Sir David Wilson gave lectures. Basil Megaw came from the school of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh. He showed Frank the dig at King Orry’s Grave. A medal was produced with the Archibald Knox design which was made by the Royal Mint. 200 bronze and 10 silver- are given out as awards. Marshall Cubbon had one as the longest serving member of the committee.

Jack Kaighen: Jack recalled life at Derby Square. There was only one bathroom in the boarding house and it had to be booked in advance. When his Grandfather died he was placed in the coffin in the front room- Jack was petrified!

Dad was handy and built the fire escape. In 1955 the Ellan Vannin Cycling Club had their AGM at Jacks house. One night Jack’s Mum was out. Jack had been out cycling and returned to find his Father in the kitchen frantically washing up all the china- he had decided to sweep the chimney and everything was covered in soot.

Ernie Cleator: Ernie showed a picture of himself in 1947. He was in hospital twice but still in the top form at school. Ernie reflected on The Grenfell Disaster- As a young graduate he did research at ICI and worked on a project on the plastic cladding and tested setting them on fire in 1968. ICI decided not to progress with them. The company was run on similar grounds to the Civil Service – “the bigger the cock up you made, the more you got promoted- I got promoted 5 times”. Having a Manx surname made you different. I was asked to work setting up a new facility just outside Paris. I needed a work permit which they declined to allow because he was not British. John Creer (The Manx DNA project leader) worked for ICI. The same thing happened to him, but he ended up in Yugoslavia.

When Ann Harrison was setting up the PRO- they didn’t want the pictures of his work as Government Surveyor, but Ernie kept them. Has two box files full.

May 2018 - Mr Derek Winterbottom: The Mighty Montagus – Earls of Salisbury and Kings of Man 1301-1428

. Derek introduced six generations on the Montagu family-tree, all high achievers and two of them Kings of Man. He described the fourteenth century as being similar to the infamous ‘Game of Thrones’ books and TV series - equally ruthless and merciless times but without the dragons!

Simon, the first Lord Montagu ‘conquered’ the Isle of Man from the Scots in 1301 and thus established a family claim to rule the Island, not put into effect at the time. His son the second baron was a close ally of Edward II and became Steward of the Royal Household and later Governor of Gascony. He died in 1319 and his son became a close friend of Edward III who was crowned king in 1327, aged 14, after his father had been forced to abdicate. Montagu masterminded the coup of 1330 which defeated the overmighty Roger Mortimer and made Edward the effective ruler of his kingdom, and he was rewarded with great riches and the lordships of Wark and Denbigh. After Edward’s defeat of the Scots at Halidon Hill in 1333 he named Montagu as Lord of Man and when he claimed the throne of France in 1337 he created Montagu Earl of Salisbury and Marshal of England. By 1342 Montagu had control over the Island and he was crowned King of Man, but he died two years later.

His son the second earl ruled Man for nearly fifty years, during which time he was responsible for constructing most of the Castle Rushen that can be seen today, building on the much smaller square keep which his father had inherited. He also added fortifications at Peel and founded a priory at Bemaken. Under him the Island had ‘strong and stable’ government, in contrast to the often chaotic times of previous lords. He sold the island to the Scrope family in 1392 because in a tragic jousting accident he had killed his only son and heir and he was not on speaking terms with his next heirs – his brother and nephew.

Derek also questioned a few myths concerning the death of Edward II, the foundation of the Order of the Garter and the nickname ‘The Black Prince’, all of which can be read about in his book! The Vote of Thanks was given by Martin Moore who remarked on the amount of research and said he was looking forward to reading the book.

April 2018 - Dr Jennifer Kewley Draskau: The Tudor Rose- Princess Mary Rose- Henry VIII’s sister and ancestress of Yn Stanlagh Moor

Jennifer headed her powerpoint presentation The Lethal Legacy- warning us to be prepared for a tale of sex, sexism, blood and death- and so it proved. Jennifer set out the story of the Tudors at a blistering pace in a lively presentation. We were able to get a real impression of the characters of the major players in this story. We learned how Henry self-willed, dominating and dynamic - adored his younger sister-. Mary Rose was a great beauty known as ‘The Rose of Christendom’. She had the benefit of sharing her brothers tutors but we learned how women were viewed a weak, feeble, unintelligent and lacking in moral fibre. Jennifer depicted how princesses in were pawns in a European power play, and the fate that befell some of them - illness, imprisonment, madness, poisoning, widowhood and banishment.

Beginning with Lady Margaret Beaufort (Henry’s Grandmother and the architect of the Tudor dynasty), Jennifer explained the complex machinations of European monarchy’s, painting vivid verbal pictures of characters like Louis XII (who became Mary Rose’s short lived first husband) and the charismatic Charles Brandon – Duke of Suffolk, who became her second. Mary Rose died aged 37. Her Daughter- Lady Frances Brandon married Harry Grey, Marquis of Dorset. Their daughter-Lady Jane Grey- became Queen for a short 9 days. Their other daughters Katherine and Mary’s lives were also tragic.

And so to the Manx connection- Mary Rose’s granddaughter Lady Margaret Clifford (her mother was Eleanor Brandon) married the 4th Earl of Derby and was Queen Elizabeth’s heir Margaret was punished for using sorcery to predict the Queen's death. Her son, Ferdinando 5th Earl of Derby, was poisoned. His brother, William, who became 6th Earl of Derby, married Elizabeth de Vere and the pair had the Isle of Man settled on them jointly- so in fact Elizabeth was the first female Lord of Man. Their son James became the 7th Earl of Derby- ‘Yn Stanlagh Moor’.

August 2017 - Member's Evening

This being the Members evening, various interesting persons spoke for ten minutes each as follows:

Peter Quayle spoke about The Big Snows of February 1963 and 1967. His family farmed at Knocksharry and had a milk round in Peel. He walked into Peel to collect his Mother who was stuck. He felt very weak but was revived by a kind person giving him rice pudding. Various farm workers volunteered to work for the Highway Board clearing snow by hand. People were snowed in a Cronk y Voddey for two weeks and little London for four. The bread van made it as far as the Devil’s Elbow and Michael women walked to meet it.

Tommy Thompson spoke about his father’s experiences 75 years ago in September 1942 when prisoners of war were being shipped from Japan to Hong Kong. A submarine fired on the Lisbon Maru and she sunk taking 48 hours to go down. The conditions of the ship had been dreadful and many Japanese abandoned the ship after nailing hatches shut. Eventually the Japanese navy helped rescue some.

Ron Ronan talked about the history of Castletown Football Club. A display of memorabilia was made at the Civic centre when the centenary was celebrated in 2004. Ron brought photograph trophies and medals to show us and talked about some of the clubs highlights and some well known footballing characters. John Morrison kindly brought Mrs Morrison’s collection of Postcards for us to look at. He also has been sorting through his Fathers collection of negatives from the 1950’s when he worked for Keigs. John had loaded these on a tablet for us to enjoy.

Jack Kaighen shared some funny stories. One about a foolish lad cycling home from Castletown via the fairy bridge. He refused to say hello to the little people and was hit by a car, breaking his shoulder blade. Jack was a Corporal serving in the catering Corps in Germany and made haversack rations for 400 hundred men- staying up all night to do it!

Richard Green has a couple of questions on how material on Manx records can be accessed online.

Frank Cowin talked about ‘The Penny Spitfire’. Rank collects RAF lapel badges brought some to show us. In WWII funds were raised for ‘The Spitfire Fund’ by selling badges made from a penny. He showed us how they were made using an upscaled paper model and talked about seeing it done by Louis Cowin in the workshops at Clucas’ Laundry where his father worked. Manx people made a mile of pennies on Douglas prom.

Frank also talked a little about the work of the Alliance for Building Conservation (ABC) and appealed to anyone willing to write an article for the paper on old buildings to please volunteer.

Thanks to all who contributed to an entertaining evening.

May 2017 - The Story of Milntown with Charles Guard

The evenings' speaker was Mr Charles Guard. Charles had just retired as the administrator of Culture Vannin (formerly the Manx Heritage Foundation). He has a reputation as a very knowledgeable broadcaster and is currently a Trustee of Milntown.

Charles set out to give us a brief history of the site and explained that some of the research had been carried out by Derek Winterbottom and Nigel Crowe. Derek’s history of Milntown was now out of print but a new edition is being planned and will include new information about the history of the house.

Milntown comprises of a 15-acre estate located next to Sky Hill where a great battle took place in 1079. The estate has been the seat of the Christian family from around 1515. Many of them were Deemsters though the most famous of the Christians to be born there is Illiam Dhone, born in 1608. Charles made a great job of describing the aspects of the English Civil War which lead to the execution of Illiam as a traitor in 1663.

Charles talked about lots of misinformation concerning Milntown but referred to Jennifer Kewley Draskau’s biography of Illiam Dhone as being the definitive account of his life and times.

The Christians had large estates at Euanrigg and Workington Hall in Cumbria and after Illiam Dhone’s execution, they tended to live more in Cumbria than on the Isle of Man. Nigel Crowe had found important documents in the Cumbrian Archives which showed that the original Milntown mansion was, in fact, demolished in 1750. It was replaced by a new, five-bay house designed and built by the estate’s then tenant, Captain John Llewellyn. Llewellyn was also responsible for the lodge at Parc Llewellyn built 12 years later.

There is no documentary record of the precise position of the old mansion, but recent geo-physical surveys and an archaeological dig seems to have identified some of the foundations of the old house in the rookery to the north of the current house. More investigation is needed.

In 1828 Dorothy Wordsworth (sister to poet laureate William) visited Ramsey (where she seems to have been offended by the smells in the town) and also called at Milntown which at the time was rented out to a Mrs Cubbin, the widow of the late Archdeacon. She was somewhat condescending towards Mrs Cubbin and her daughters and the commented on the faded décor of the house.

All this changed when John Christian came on the scene. Although living in England when he inherited the estate, he accepted the post of Second Deemster on the Island and returned to live here with his family at the Fort Anne in Douglas.

As soon as Mrs Cubbin’s lease was up he set about converting the 1750s house into the Gothic masterpiece it is today. As he moved out of the Fort Anne, the founder of the RNLI, Sir William Hilary moved in. Eventually Sir William’s son married Deemster Christian’s daughter and the families became very close.

Deemster Christian was a rather humourless man and he made a complaint against Sir Walter Scott on account of his novel, ‘Peveril of the Peak’ which was set in the Isle of Man in the 17th century. The Deemster objected to Scott’s unflattering depiction of a member of the family, even though it was a fictional. At a dinner party in Cumbria Deemster Christian pressed William Wordsworth to write to Sir Walter on his behalf. Wordsworth did this but when he was on the Island, he declined an invitation to dine again with the Deemster. Perhaps he’d had enough of being harangued about the Christian family!

In 1832 the Deemster was involved in an extraordinary court case when he appeared as defendant. He was accused of throwing a farmer’s son into the Sulby river during an altercation about fishing rights. The Deemster had to appear before his peer and colleague, Deemster Heywood. It’s clear that the whole Island was agog with the details of this court case which was given eight whole pages in the Manks Advertiser.

Charles pointed out that some forty years earlier two ancestors of Deemsters Heywood and Christian were on opposite sides of a dispute on the other side of the world when Peter Heywood and Fletcher Christian were involved in the Mutiny on the Bounty.

Deemster Christian left the estate to all of his children and his son, the Reverend William Bell Christian bought out his siblings by taking on a huge loan of £75,000. When he died unexpectedly, whilst married to his fourth wife Vio, it was clear that she was unable to keep up the payments on the debt and the estate was declared bankrupt. In the great auction of 1886 everything in the house was sold, pictures, furniture and historic documents. Vio rented the mansion back from the receivers and ran a successful school ‘for the daughters of gentlemen’. After her tenure the house became a hotel in the 1930s and was run by Lynn Carlyle who was controversially accused of seducing men’s wives.

It then passed to Charles Peel Yates of Yates’ Wine Lodge fame, and then it was bought by Lady Kathleen Edwards, who arrived in the Island in 1964 as a tax exile from the Labour government’s punitive surtax. It passed down to her son Sir Clive Edwards who, on his death in 1999, left it for the benefit of the Manx people.

The estate is now run by four trustees who have built a café, developed the gardens, built self-catering accommodation and are gradually restoring the interior of the house to its former Gothic glory. The estate’s beautiful gardens are complemented by a collection of vintage cars and bikes, which are on display for visitors. To enhance the income of the estate (which receives no government assistance), the trustees are promoting events, such as Cyclfest, and encouraging private functions such as weddings and corporate events.

The vote of thanks was given by Keith Teare. He acknowledged the “big crowd” that Charles had drawn and praised his knowledge of this strand of Manx History. Particularly, Keith pointed to the very human stories that Charles’ talk had teased out of the story of a house.

February 2017 - Manx buildings with Frank Cowin

The evenings speaker was the ever popular Frank Cowin- introduced by Ernie as- Architect and Surveyor- “he knows everything”- and so it seems!

Frank talked a little about the concerns many people have about the future for old buildings on the IOM. The planners seconded the conservation officer to work in renewal and regeneration, so there in no one working full time in that post. The registration of buildings was being delayed. Charles Guard petitioned Tynwald.

Since then, there has been an organisation set up called The Building Conservation Forum. This consists of Culture Vannin, MHK’s , MNH and planning officers and various other interested parties. MNH and Culture Vannin have worked on an Isle of Architecture project to raise awareness of our built environment. The Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society appealed to heritage organisations around the Island to meet consider their buildings. This is now called The Alliance for Building Conservation (ABC). It has been producing a fortnightly newspaper article in The Examiner under the banner of “Buildings at Risk”.

The approach Frank used when framing his talk was to ask us to consider four factors when considering vernacular architecture: Time (i.e era), Place, People and Technology. Throughout the first part of the talk, Frank used examples to illustrate these factors, sharing with us with large collection of slides he had collected over many years.

Frank’s examples moved from the earliest dwellings, through to ‘Polite architecture’ and more recent buildings of the 1950’s and 1960’s. He talked us through a wide array of building materials and methods, explaining how innovation drove new design.

Most striking was Frank’s ability to explain how “to read” a building” .It’s story is written on its face”. He encouraged us to always look upwards for the clues.

People arriving on the island influenced design, bringing their methods with them. There was a lovely round up of some of the most influential Architects and builders, all illustrated with great images. Even illustrated were some buildings which were never constructed.

The vote of thanks was given by Mr Keith Teare, who applauded Frank’s ability to speak with great knowledge of whichever subject he presented. He also reiterated one of Frank’s points which was the importance of conserving buildings and finding new and relevant uses for them, as opposed to pure unsustainable preservation.

November 2016 - 'A Poor Farmer's Boy' with Ian Quayle

Ian started off by explaining his daughter, having listened to many anecdotes, had said “You should write these things down”- Ian explained ‘This is as far as I got!’

This introduction led to a very enjoyable evening with funny and poignant tales from Ian’s life and that of his Father and Grandfather.

Grandparents ‘Ma and Pa’ were John and Eliza Quayle of Ballaskellya, Narradale and Ballamenaugh , Lezayre. It was a sad loss that Ma and Pa only spoke Manx Gaelic between each other-and not to the children.

His father was Bobby Quayle (1893-1973) who had plenty of tales of farming life and who also recounted the tales of his father:

The Family had a servant called Nellie who cooked, cleaned and minded the children as well as rearing the best meg lambs. She reared them on stale bread as there wasn’t enough spare milk, -the butchers were none the wiser. Lambs were herded 24 miles to the Douglas butchers- no mean feat with no fences in places. The butchers would always want discount, and kept the farmers waiting until October for payment.

Life was hard in the snow. Brother Tom was sent to gather in the sheep but got caught in the blizzard he was found sheltering by a hedge, blue with cold. Father made him walk behind the cart home which kept his circulation going and probably saved his life. Some years they could lose up to 100 sheep- mainly in ravines.

The passing train helped mark the beginning and end of the working day. Each year there was a trip to the Tailors in the village- suits were made but couldn’t be paid for until the Douglas butchers paid for the lambs in October. John admired and was given one of the big red apples in the tailor’s bowl but was very disappointed with the taste when he bit into it- it was the first tomato he had ever had!

All the Sulby, children used to climb onto the back of the Doctor’s car- so much so that it used to bring it to a halt. The Doctor was very tolerant and used to say “you’ve had your bit of fun now”- no one used to complain.

John once was approached by a neighbour who had lost his horse. He thought it wasn’t on the farm as he could see his own two horses in the high fields. It wasn’t until later that he discovered his own horse had fallen in a dub and drowned and the second horse wasthe neighbours after all. This instilled in the family the discipline to check the whole farm regularly.

Ian’s forbears were very good with horse and used to breed them for the Brewery and the Steam Packet. Horses would go for a two week trial as some stables would only accept horses that lay down to sleep- that way they could ensure they were properly rested. John Quayle was the last man to breed Manx Ponies. They were bigger and slimmer than the Welsh breed and were also good with a plough. This breed died out due to the importation of bigger faster ones.

Bobby got a farm of his own at Meary Veg in Santon in 1927. He was given two carthorses and some sheep and bought some of his own. He used to travel on the train to visit his parents in Sulby at the weekends. His sheepdog was always tied up on the yard but one day he left him loose. The dog went missing and turned up at Narradale 6 weeks later- amazing as he had travelled to Santon in the first place on the train!

Uncle Tom worked in a quarry. A blast sent a stone into his eye and half blinded him. He was given a whippet and used it to ‘lamp’ rabbits. He managed to save enough for the subsidised fare to America. He opened a grocery store there, married an 18 year old and had a son. He told his family about ‘The Ranch Back Home’

Eventually, Tom became homesick and moved back to the Island with his wife, child and Mother-in-law. The only farm he was able to get was at Druidale. There were no decent roads, no water, electricity or neighbours. The wife and Mother in law were very unhappy. Tom took them all to Ramsey and gave them tickets to return to America. He never saw or heard from the women again. When young Tom was middle aged, he began to write to his Father- who never replied. Aunt Dora found one of the letters and started writing. Ian has now taken over and is happy his daughter was able to visit Tom in Oregon.

Bobby’s first winter at Meary Veg went well but then the sheep struggled with liver fluke- something upland farmers weren’t used to dealing with. A carthorse died but Bobby got no sympathy from Pa, who said it was a good job lowland farmers lost stock so the upland breeders could make money! Bobby never mentioned any losses again.

Bobby bought cows and started a milk round and hired men to help on the farm,. “Boys” were paid 7/8 shillings a week and lived communally. Married “Men” got a cottage and 14 shillings. He bought a ‘Bullnose’ Morris and used it for deliveries. He met his wife on this round at Port Soderick. She was a midwife and also ran a boarding House on Empress Drive.

In 1937, Bobby gave up the farm and moved into the Boarding House. He didn’t like living in town so by 1938 he took Ballacreggan, Port Soderick and lived in Douglas until it could be done up. He went on a horse buying trip to Scotland with Caesar Quayle (who used to travel the Island with a stallion). Bobby found two good Clydesdales-Lady and Bess.

One of the neighbours was unfortunate to discover his wife dead in the chair. The shock killed him too. The family organised the funeral, set to go ahead with a burial for them both at Santon. The lawyer arrived on the morning of the funeral and the family discovered that the man wanted to buried with his family at Jurby. Hasty plans ensured that his coffin travelled up on the train and his wishes were granted, but the mourners were very confused – they didn’t know which hearse to follow!

1939 saw the start of the war. Food had been ordered for the boarding house and the butter and bacon had to be salted-for ever after the Mother preferred salted bacon and butter. Dad bought a bike to save fuel but complained to the shop it was far too heavy!

Ian and his baby sister used to walk past the hotels used for internment on Douglas Prom. The internees used to coax cats inside- cats became quite scarce! They used to fill jars with varying amounts of water and hang them in doorways and then play a tune on them.

Italian internees worked on the farms. A guard would leave the camp with 6 internees. He would drop one at Ellan Brook, 2 at Ballacreggan and take the other 3 to Ballaslig. He had a rifle with a fixed bayonet. When asked why he was so relaxed leaving it lying around he revealed there was no ammunition in it. Tony and Tommy had tea and bread and jam with the family. Mum used to give them 5 cigarettes each. The radio was not allowed to be on but they were allowed to set snares for rabbits. Dad had to report to camp to confirm they had permission.

Extra internees were used at threshing time. Dad was bemused to find all the buttons missing from his waistcoat. It seems that one of the men had been a tailor and stole them when Dad had taken it off. They had a Landgirl- Barbara Cuthbert who was the wife of the Port Erin camp Commandant

Ballacreggan had no running water or electricity so needed lots of work. It was a 16 room 13 storey dwelling. 1946 was a long hot summer and the well ran dry. The family were making trips 4 times a day to the river at Kewaigue with 14 gallon kegs to water the animals. Cubbon’s the plumbers installed water eventually. A large range with a back boiler and oven was fitted in the kitchen to replace the choillagh. Gorse bons were always gathered on the way home at the end of the day and sticks were put to dry above the stove. Mother loved to bake.

She collected eggs and they were sorted for sale on a Sunday, and delivered to local customers on a Tuesday. Kissack the Grocer would take any spare. A woman from a Douglas cafe was desperate for eggs as there was a boat full of trippers expected the next day. She bought 10 dozen at an over the odds rate of 10 shillings a dozen and carried them back to Douglas- goodness knows how?She ordered them at this inflated rate for the rest if the summer.

They kept ducks. One day Mum was collecting the eggs but they kept disappearing from the wonder that dog had such a shiny coat! Pullets were disappearing too- a search found beneath the old well cover, a polecat with her babies in the overflow.

Bobby had a red short horn heifer which had not long calved. When he was doing his rounds of the farm with the children in tow, it tossed him his over it’s head. The children thought this hilarious. A few days later it Bobby went to look at the calf and found himself tossed clean over the gate! Bobby spoke to a local cattle dealer- Hershall Cowley. Mr Cowley had a waxed moustache and always wore a starched collar and bow tie. Dad sold the cow straight away- warning Cowley not to sell it to a place where they had children around- he didn’t mention his own incidents with the animal!

Ian concluded by contrasting his Father’s experience on an upland farm with a horse and cart to his witnessing the moon landings on television. What Change!

September 2016 - 'A Tour Round the Calf of Man' with John Wright

The guest speaker, John Wright, follows many aspects of local history and he has taken a keen interest in the Calf of Man. He took us on a visual tour of sites on the Calf from the farmhouse where a bull was once kept. In the 1890’s rabbits provided a profit of £50 after paying the rabbit catcher. It was also advertised as a pub at one time. The smithy was used by the lighthouse keepers until it fell into bad repair and the slates were removed. Robert Louis Stevenson’s father worked on the land based lighthouses which illuminated the Chicken’s Rock before its lighthouse was built in 1868. Until 1928 semaphore was used to get a relief keeper then the Examiner donated a radio for entertainment and communication. Visitors to the island were discouraged as they sometimes took popguns to shoot the birds so a gamekeeper was employed. There was a lime kiln near South Harbour and the building is now used by bird wardens watching storm petrels and Manx shearwaters. In a cave near Cow Harbour is a cave where the names W. McIntosh and Redfern appear with dates. In 1651,during the Civil War a fort repelled 3 parliamentary ships with cannon but they later returned and took the island. In the 1770’s people building a sod hedge found a piece of an 11th century cross, the Calf Crucifixion, but the rest of it had never been discovered. The last farmer left in 1958.

19 August 2016 - 'Ancient Mann' with Dr Andrew Foxon

The guest speaker on 19th August was Andrew Foxon who leads Tours around historic Manx sites since retiring from Manx National Heritage. He began at the very beginning with the world 390 million years ago and the limestones which now form the island forming in the southern oceans then migrating to the equator 90 million years later. Matter from the land masses washed into the sea to form other Manx rocks and there is evidence of volcanic action at Scarlett. There are also remains of algal reefs. 9,000 years ago Europe was one mass but Ireland, the Scottish islands and, eventually the island, were separated by melt waters by 6000BC. Humans arrived during the latter period. Recent excavations at Ronaldsway Airport have revealed artifacts of a Mesolithic hunter gatherers’ house, one of the best in Europe and other sites throughout the island show the progression of its inhabitants. By 3,500 BC men were domesticating animals and growing crops. Burials from cremations to burials are found in many sites as are huts and forts from South Barrule to Spanish Head and the Braaid spanning Bronze Age, Celtic and Norse. The ship burial at Balladoole covers Norse and Christian customs. There are keeills all over the island and many holy wells and stone crosses. It is well worth visiting such sites and it is good to be reminded of our rich heritage.

17 May 2016 - 'The Big Press Run ' with Frank Cowin

Frank Cowin's talk entitled "The Big Press Run" was an account of the Press Gangs on the island in 1798. The law enabling the impressing of men into the services originated in the 14th century. In the 18th Century volunteers were sometimes sufficient to man a ship but on other occasions, such as the commissioning of a new ship or one brought back into service, they needed more men. In the 1760's to 80's many ships came into Ramsey and Douglas and Manx men would be persuaded, bullied or kidnapped. Fishermen, Fencibles and soldiers were supposed to be exempt but this was not always adhered to. Men used to take to the hills to avoid the press and women were known to attack the gangs. Conditions were poor in the navy although there could be rewards if a treasure ship was captured as the booty was shared out. However if the captain got £5,000 a rating would only get £1. In 1798 The Spider cruised near the island and in August picked up 2 men from Douglas and 5 off ships near Port St. Mary. Later they picked up “a quantity of men” ending with a total of 70 from the Irish Sea. One was Thomas Callister who kept a diary which recounted his voyages on various ships to the Mediterranean and back, then out to Jamaica and Cuba, returning to England in 1802. In 1812 he built his own fishing boat and his crew were exempt from impressment. Other Manxmen ran but Radcliffe Symons is known to have died in service. Frank is still working on this project so we look forward to more in the future.

15 April 2016 - 'Onchan, My Home' with May and Alan Moore

When May's father was 26 in 1911, he emigrated to Australia to work on sugar plantations and then fought during WW1 with the Australian forces. In 1919 he married May's Mum in Brisbane but it was too hot for his bride so they came back to Hilberry. May was born in 1928 at Clypse farm, one of twin sisters for her two older brothers but unfortunately her twin died at 17 months. When at school she walked in to Onchan but they moved into a boarding house, without electricity, in the village when she was nine. One of her teachers, Mildred Spencer recently died aged 101.

May clearly remembers the WW2 years when their house in Royal Avenue West was commandeered for internees. Their furniture not required by prisoners was stored in the Derby Castle. May can name all the shops in Onchan at the time. They eventually returned home to find their house in quite a state and their suite recovered, but in the same material as all those which had been stored. She and Alan married 62 years ago and their lives have revolved around the church and their social life around the Parish Hall.

Unfortunately the power presentation failed so Alan showed their own pictures he had taken off their walls to illustrate May's memories. These included Kate's Cottage, Majestic Mansion, Groudle Glen Toll House, a Fur and Feather Show at Derby Castle and Florrie Ford at the theatre. It was a lovely account of a life spent happily in one area.

18 March 2016 - 'Memories' with Peter Kelly MBE

We enjoyed the welcome return of Peter Kelly with his presentation of old photographs bringing back ‘Memories'. Most of the photographs, dating from 1930 to 1970 were rescued from a fire at the Isle of Man Times Office. With his usual humour and knowledge of architecture and people, Peter took us through the years many of us remembered. During the 1930s we saw the old buildings down the harbour, through Strand Street and along the promenade as well as the TT Grandstand at Nobles Park and the building of Pulrose Estate. Post-War we saw a show at the Gaiety Theatre, art classes at the art school and the International Cycling races. In the 50s there were street parties for the Queen's Coronation, a fire damaged King William's College and Westminster Garage was built for Mr. Mahon. Entertainments included the bathing beauties at the Villa Marina and Soldiers in Skirts in the theatre. The nurses' home in Westmorland Road was built and and there were visits by the Queen and the Queen Mother. On to the 60s and the Rolling Stones and Tom Jones played at the Palace Lido, the Howstrake Hotel burnt down and the Wild Life park opened. In the 70s we first saw tetra packs for milk, Sayles shop closed, a new block was built at Noble's Hospital, Great Meadow held an anniversary of the Derby, the Spinners appeared at a concert in Peel and Pam Ayres left the island after living here for several years. This is only a swift resume of all Peter had to show us.

19 February 2016 - 'Stranger than Fiction' with Hampton Creer

Hampton Creer made a welcome return for his talk, Stranger Than Fiction. Through an ancestor who was possibly Jinny the Witch Hampton, he has been looking into all reports concerning alleged witchcraft. The subject has largely been hidden in the records. In England the topic seems to have emerged with the Pendle Witch trials and the unsettled times of the Spanish Armada, Henry V111's break with Rome and the Gunpowder Plot. In the 1500's the island held its first trial, that of Alice Keys who was charged with charming rather than sorcery. With Lord Stanley often away, legal matters became muddled, but Alice and her partner were burnt at the stake. In 1618 Margaret Quane and her son were also burnt after charming a man who died and her husband accused them of murder.

In the 17th century, it was easy to blame women who acted to help the sick if the patient died and this apparently happened in the case of Margaret. Subsequently the Church decreed that such a sentence was not to be carried out again. Accused people would be imprisoned in Castle Rushen and by 1696 twelve prisoners on death warrants were deported to Jamaica instead atlhough it was likely they perished on the way there.

Hampton's ancestor, Joney Lowney, revelled in her status as a charmer but she was one of the deportees who didn't survive. There really were no Manx witches, just women desparate to eke out a living by trying to charm and cure both people and animals. The Manx have tended to be superstitious and there are many examples of this. Today medicine would explain the cause of death and nobody would be called a witch. Rolling witches down Slieau Whallian is rarely mentioned in Manx records. Charles 1 was responsible for revoking the witchcraft laws.

15 January 2016 - 'Emigrants Lament' with Keith Teare

The guest speaker Keith Teare presented his talk on a sad song his father, Danny, used to sing all the time –“An emigrants Lament”.

Danny loved to sing no matter where he was but Keith has not been able to find any record of this song being published so he has researched it himself. He only had one verse and a chorus to work on, beginning:

"My Mother she stood on the Liverpool Dock with her handkerchief over her eyes, And when the ship sailed out of the dock, it was then she began to cry....
There'll be no one to welcome you home."
In 1890 Keith's grandfather, Willie Teare, sailed on the SS Serena to America via Cobh as a miner and in 1893 he married Mary Cannell. He later returned to the island and the family farm at Slieu Whallian, Foxdale, seemingly having made some money.

Keith could not find any more about the song for several years but eventually Googled it and found 3 more verses submitted by Mary Ward Utterback of Illinois, America. She had found it among some old family papers but did not have the tune, so Keith was able to send that for her daughter to sing. Mary added a fifth verse with a happy ending after returning to her homeland, Ireland.
"As family joined family, new cousins too, no longer strangers afar, I found myself back to that land of my birth, There was someone to welcome me home."
With the help of several people the song was sung at a Homecomers' Service, a year after Mary unfortunately died in 2013. Keith has found one other Manx family who knew the song but would love to hear of any others anywhere in the World. He suspects that it originated in Ireland as it has an Irish lilt to it. The audience enjoyed joining in with the song throughout the talk.