From Sue King
Shipwrecks, daring rescues, medical emergencies, furious driving – the dramatic highlights, you may suppose, of a new action movie. But they’re actually the gritty subject matter of a quirky little book which details life in the Manx village of Laxey in the nineteenth century as never before.
‘A Little Book of Laxey – A Miscellany of Incidents, Accidents and Hot Topics from Manx Newspapers 1793-1899’ has been compiled by Laxey writer Sue King from many hundreds of newspaper articles held in the digitised archives of the Manx National Heritage iMuseum. Sue has long been fascinated by the human background to Laxey’s industrial history and, while researching another subject in the iMuseum, found herself drawn to numerous references that painted this ‘quiet’ little mining village in a whole new light. Before long she began to realise that, as well as making a great read, these long-forgotten stories held a wealth of historical interest across a huge range of subjects. The result, compiled in chronological order, is a revealing look at what Laxey’s Victorian forefathers (and mothers!) REALLY got up to, how they viewed themselves and the rest of the world, and how they dealt with the challenges they faced.
Sue says “The iMuseum, behind the main Douglas museum, is an amazing resource for local history. The research facilities offered to the general public – and worldwide by subscription – allow you to find an incredible amount of information about Manx people, places and events at the click of a button. I simply typed in the words ‘Laxey and Lonan’ and within seconds was presented with thousands of articles. After months of trawling I’d still only worked my way through to 1899 so decided that might be a good place to stop!”
Sue says she has tried to maintain a fair balance in the book’s subject matter – which ranges from drunken brawls to tea-drinking temperance rallies, and covers everything from births to marriages and deaths, albeit the most newsworthy ones! She says she did hesitate over some of the more tragic and what some readers may consider offensive stories but felt they all deserved to be included as they highlight the attitudes and practices of a very different era. Throughout the book, any archaic terms, place names or curious words that may puzzle the reader are explained in short postscripts.
‘A Little Book of Laxey’ is priced at just £6.99 and is available from all good Island bookshops (WH Smith, the Lexicon, Manx National Heritage, St Paul’s in Ramsey, Bridge Bookshop) as well as Presence of Mann at the Laxey Woollen Mills, and the Laxey Post Office. Sue will also post copies to overseas addresses on request. For further information email firstname.lastname@example.org