London Manx Society
(Yn Cheshaght Manninagh Lunnin)
PATRONS: H.E. LT. GOVERNOR OF THE ISLE OF MAN
THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF KEYS
President – Alastair Kneale
Editor – Douglas Barr-Hamilton
On Saturday, 16th May we were back at the Doubletree by Hilton in Southampton Row for our annual lunch. Our Guest of Honour and speaker was Dr John Callow described in advance as author, writer and historian. We learned too that he is a prolific broadcaster.
Before he spoke folk started arriving at about midday and gradually mingled, renewing old friendships and enquiring after health. Promptly at one o’clock the kitchen served our lunch in a convenient banqueting hall, new to us but very easily reached from the lobby. Soup, salmon, brulée, coffee and mints: it was an excellent meal, efficiently served by staff, one of whom we knew from previous years.
As tradition dictates, we toasted the Land of our Birth, proposed this year by Rose Fowler in a delightful manner that evoked both our memories of the Island of many years ago and the image of the modern, thrusting nation that we see when we visit. Singing the National Anthem, “O Land of our Birth” followed.
After a five minute break, our President proposed the toast to our guests and Dr Callow graciously responded. After introducing himself: a Maughold Callow, he explained the title of his talk: An upside down World because it described the era about which he wanted to speak, that of the Civil War, Commonwealth and Restoration which was particularly traumatic for the Island.
The authorities had created the last bastion of royalism and the Manx were suppressed under republicanism with garrisons at Peel and Malew although life got a little easier as the soldiers began to join Island life even taking local work in periods when they were not paid. So the restoration of the monarchy brought fresh control, not least by the Anglican Church and Bishop Barrow.
Dr Callow made the life of the Manx over this last half of the seventeenth century even more realistic by describing how Quakers were treated (and how they behaved) he being descended from a family of early Quakers. At that time the movement was very different from our modern conception: they wore bright colours, they were not pacificist and they were not averse to breaking up church services. But they were treated in an appalling way but suffered at the hands of authority and not their fellow-islanders.
The talk was most interesting, informative and well received and we were able to ask a question or two at the end.
Numbers attending the lunch were down for the second year running: twenty-three diners was short of the break even number of twenty-five but loss to the Society was prevented by members’ generosity in the raffle It raised £200 with Melodie Waddingham winning the top prize: a ticket for a car and two passengers on a trip from Liverpool to Douglas generously donated by the Steam Packet company.
Several regulars were absent through illness and, indeed, somebody joked: if the Society is typical of the public generally, no wonder the health service is in crisis!
We especially missed two officers: one was past president Stewart Christian. Stewart has been unwell for a considerable time now and finds it particularly frustrating because he is unable to work until he has undergone an operation and the surgery keeps being delayed. Even now, it is not expected before July. His cheerful demeanour was missing from Southampton Row this year.
The other was our treasurer and long time member, Sam Weller and, of course, his wife Mary. Sam was rushed to hospital for an emergency operation earlier in the year and has recently undergone further surgery that was anticipated at the time of the crisis. initially, progress was slow but once antibiotics had dealt with a residual infection, his improvement has begun to speed up and he has got markedly better in the past few day. He tells us confidently he will make the Tynwald Day cooish. Greetings cards were signed by all present and one each sent to Stewart and Sam.
Also on the wounded list were committee members Pam Fiddik and Chris Price. We wish them both a speedy recovery. We hope to see all of them next year, along with others who missed this year’s wonderful lunch either through illness or for another reason.
Because the sun always shines, the July cooish is one of our most popular events and this year we are able to hold it on Tynwald Day itself. A short walk from Beckenham Junction station, the home and garden of Professor Bryan Corrin at 14 Foxgrove Road, Beckenham BR3 2AT is a near perfect venue and we expect a big attendance on Sunday 5th July, getting under way at about one o’clock. As always, Manx kippers will be provided but please bring enough additional food to satisfy your needs, if you can in a quantity you can share. That way, we’ll have a multi-course meal.
If coming, please advise our kind hosts on 020 8650 7029
Fiona Nicholls (née Gore)
Members were sad to learn of Fiona’s passing in January this year. I had been pleased to meet up with her again at London Manx some years back as she was at the Buchan (but younger) and her father and mine were the best of friends and played golf each Sunday. Fiona was a member of the well-known Gore family who ran the sweet shop in Douglas where you could watch them putting the three legs into the rock! Her father, Leslie (or Lars as dad called him) was manager of the Isle of Man Bank in Port St Mary and Fiona was an only child, born after the war, The Family moved to a house in Gansey Bay, Port St Mary and that is where Fiona and Nigel and their two daughters spent many happy holidays in later years.
Because I had lost touch, I sought to learn a bit more about her life before she became ill. Joan Lever (nee Keggin) along with Ann Jones told me what a great mimic she was, taking off the accent of our Austrian matron, Miss Hexel. She eventually attended St Godred’s Secretarial College in London (where my sister, Sandra, went also so George and Lars must have discussed that on their round of golf!) Fiona worked as a PA near St Pancras in London before meeting Nigel on a trip to Canada where she spent some time.
Eventually, they moved to Potters Bar where Pru, one of the daughters told me they had a happy life surrounded by golden labradors and horses. Fiona and Nigel also had a home in California and enjoyed cruising before the onset of the cruel illness she struggled with for twenty years. Pru said her mother died surrounded by family and friends, she had a happy life and “was ready to go.” Fiona was a lovely person and we send Nigel and their daughters, Clare and Pru, our deepest sympathy on their loss.
I’ve been advised of the programme for the Barrow Society and it includes the sort of things we can’t do in London: a cruise on Lake Windermere on 10th June, a visit to the Beatrix Potter Museum on 14th September and some things with which we are familiar such as a mhelliah lunch on 11th October.
It was a delight to welcome to our May lunch Peter and Ann Bridson from the Wirral society. They arrived almost an hour before the start having travelled by train from Liverpool and a good number of us were able to chat to them before the meal.
On the morning after the general election I startled a waiting room as I reached the centre pages of the Times. I’d seen a huge picture of Ramsey quayside: a familiar view from the Market Square to the Isle of Man Bank. On the property page, the article was headed, “Top ten islands around Britain.” but it said little about property although our president will be pleased to know it recommended “cute ex-miner’s cottages in the pretty village of Laxey” while mentioning Georgian townhouses in Douglas and “vast gated trophy homes costing more than £30 million being built.”
The introduction was hardly encouraging: you wouldn’t move to this windswept outpost in the Irish Sea for the weather, but it went on to mention the breathtaking landscape of hills and valleys that we all love. I suspect the Tourist Board will not like the words they added, “untrodden by hoards of holiday makers” and elsewhere, “The Island is off the tourist radar.” A recent review of tourism says it is growing again. But that picture of Ramsey with the harbour almost at high tide, the colourful buildings that once served the fishing industry and the trees and hillside beyond made my day and I woke some dozing patients.
Ramsey – A Collection of Images through the Years
Nostalgia is a popular subject for many Manx book collectors, but if you’re linked in any way to the northern town of Ramsey there’s an extra reason to dip into this new publication which focuses on some fascinating aspects of the area.
First settled by the Vikings three thousand years ago, Ramsey became known as the capital of the north, and within these pages you’ll find a selection of thought-provoking photographs of the town in its hey-day.
Inevitably this includes many industries associated with the harbour area, but the book also acknowledges other important milestones linked to the town, such as the Ellan Vannin tragedy, internment during World War II, the creation of Radio Caroline, and the establishment of Ramsey Cottage Hospital.
A collaboration between Miles Cowsill and Ramsey based writer Sue Woolley, this was published in response to several requests to produce an historical ‘picture book’ of the town, but although it gives a rewarding insight into the area’s history, it was never meant to be a detailed account of the locality.
Nonetheless it charts some of the many changes which the town has experienced and illustrates its importance as a busy, commercial centre, with some priceless nuggets of information and a skilful choice of photography, supplemented by some stunning colour images by Tony Lloyd-Davies.
Available at many bookshops and outlets across the Island, it’s priced at £14.95.
www lilypublications co uk
© April 2015 (Courtesy of Manx Life)
Manx Anthem in Washington Redskins’ stadium
There was uproar in the stadium during the playing of the El Salvador national anthem before the country’s match against Argentina on 28th March. It wasn’t theirs. Whose could it be? And the question was repeated as hundreds of thousands watched the film on the internet. I saw it from a link on the Island’s newspapers site. The Washington Post reported that a Maryland senator called the mix-up ‘discouraging’ for the Salvadoran community is the second largest in USA after California. I contacted Kelly McCarthy, North American Manx Association President who lives nearby and she confirmed the community’s reaction and that “O Land of our birth,” had been played, explaining it was quite an easy mistake to make for the computer program of national anthems lists them by country, using the countries’ name in alphabetical order. So Ellan Vannin comes immediately before El Salvador. El Salvador will be playing in Maryland again in July (in Baltimore). The organisers will be making sure there is no repeat.
Islanders Remember the Sinking of the Lusitania and its Manx Connections
In commemoration of the sinking of the Lusitania and its Manx links, a special Memorial Service was organised by Peel Commissioners during the May bank holiday weekend, together with a number of other events to reflect on the tragic episode which is historically linked to the Island.
In spite of the atrocious weather conditions, the clouds parted during the Memorial Service held at the RNLI station in Peel, where a number of local dignitaries gathered for the occasion, including His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor Adam Wood, Chief Minister Alan Bell MHK, Madam President Clare Christian, the Right Reverend Robert Paterson (the Bishop of Sodor and Mann), the Dean of St German’s Cathedral, Nigel Godfrey, and representatives of Peel Commissioners.
They were joined by choristers from the cathedral, representatives of military organisations and the crew of the local lifeboat, to hear extracts of the original story and readings and take part in hymns and prayers. This included Eternal Father, Strong to Save written by William Whiting (traditionally associated with seafarers) and the Manx Fishermen’s Evening Hymn by W. H. Gill.
The short service concluded with the Manx National Anthem.
Following this a number of invited guests, along with Jackie O’Halloran of the Lusitania Memorial Committee, boarded the local lifeboat together with members of the crew before heading out towards the back of Peel breakwater. They were joined by a small number of local vessels as the Lieutenant Governor and the Chief Minister cast wreaths on the water and thousands of biodegradable poppies were strewn in memory of those who died.
Later in the afternoon a free lecture delivered at the Centenary Centre by Tony Pass, (Chairman of Manx National Heritage) covering the stories of the Lusitania, the Manx fishing boat Wanderer, (whose crew played a vital role in the rescue), and the U-boat which torpedoed the Cunard liner, attracted a full house to the entertainment venue.
A number of passengers and crew sailing on the Lusitania, some of whom did not survive, were also from the Isle of Man.
In conclusion, a celebration of life, with music by The Shenanigans Banned and an evening meal, brought proceedings to a close at the marquee on the former swimming pool site on Marine Parade in Peel, the home port of the Wanderer.
Local brewers, Bushy’s Brewery, prepared a special brew named the Wanderer for the occasion and funds after expenses were donated to the Peel based RNLI.
I don’t much like zoos and a zoo in a peat bog didn’t appeal so for years I’ve driven past Ballaugh Curraghs Wildlife Park, curragh being the Manx Gaelic word for a swamp. The low lying area just to the north is drained very slowly by the Lhen and Killane rivers. However, last year I was persuaded to stop. It was a lovely afternoon at a quiet time of year . . .
Next to the TT course on land which used to be farmed, the plot was bought by the Isle of Man Government in 1963. Two years later 26 acres of wildlife park was opened. So, almost fifty years late, we found it and in no way could it be called a zoo. The animals were in large enclosures designed to resemble their natural habitat, paths pass through the enclosures and the animals roam freely so not all could be seen as we walked through different areas but there were insects, butterflies and birds as well as the animals. We quickly saw that the management of the park is linked to like-minded organisations world-wide and that one of the essential aims is breeding for conservation.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that the park is home to endangered species, including large cats and birds of prey, primates and rodents as well as children’s favourites like meerkats and prairie dogs although, of course, it specialises in wetland animals. We found the animals with other wildlife from the same area so we circled the park continent by continent from Australia to America and although we did not see them all: it’s rather like being on safari – we might have seen wallabies, red pandas, lynx, tapirs, otters, penguins, flamingos, pelicans and storks and, being able to walk through some of the enclosures, we had as good a view as possible. Additionally, we learned that visitors who had arrived at the right time had listened to feeding time talks and visited other animal enclosures to get close to some of the wildlife.
Ours turned out to be a rushed visit but we were aware that some all-day visitors were making use of the adventure playground and the homely restaurant. A well worth while stop we shall have to repeat with a lot more time at our disposal.
I heard and read tributes on radio and in Manx and English papers to Geoff Duke who died on 1st May, aged 92. Each made mention of his character and talents and each also described the shock felt by the public when he announced in 1953 that he would ride an Italian Gilera instead of the British Norton on which he had won the world championship.
Years later, I had reason to be grateful for that change: on holiday in Italy, our car spluttered to a halt outside a garage just as it was about to close for the night. It seems that I attracted sympathy while they discussed what to do as I examined a local biker’s machine and words like, “Isolo di Man, Duce and Agostini (by then the champion)” crossed the forecourt. They spent the next hour fixing things while we talked, neither understanding the other although I did learn three words of Italian: acqua nella benzina! As a result, we were able to drive the twenty miles to our hotel in Positano and enjoy a late meal the owner specially prepared for us.
Geoff Duke went to live in the Island after retiring from racing in 1961 and
there was an unusual tribute to him on Sunday 10th May: the hearse carrying his body, accompanied by two TT marshals and other cars completed a lap of the TT course watched, it’s reported, by thousands. A final lap of honour: we hope it encouraged his family to whom we extend our sympathy.
Aviation and Military Museum looking to expand
Having come to the Island in 1943 after my father had been posted briefly to RAF Andreas (and stayed when he left) I made a visit to the Manx Aviation and Military Museum fairly soon after it opened at Ronaldsway Airport, some fifteen years ago now and found it fascinating. Not easy to spot, being in a typical old airfield building and the airport being a place one is either rushing to or rushing from, it was not particularly busy.
Things are changing now. Earlier in the year, iomtoday reported that there had been increase in visitor numbers that had reached 6,000 in 2014, a 10% increase from the year before.
The growth seems to have come largely through word of mouth, helped by the donation of many items by a public encouraged by what they had seen and, more recently because of media coverage of the Great War, a surprising number of exhibits from the 1914-18 period. At the same time, there has been a huge growth in the number of schools visiting and the response of children has been particularly encouraging.
Interviewed by the paper, Ivor Ramsden, the museum director said that there were many stories to tell of the Island at the time of the wars and, having added a memorial garden a year ago, it was hoped they could raise enough money to help it expand and do justice to the Island’s aviation and military history.
Two Man Art Exhibition in Peel Hailed a Success
A recent two man art exhibition held in the historical Sailors’ Shelter on East Quay in Peel, was hailed as a resounding success.
Given a new lease of life since its recent renovation, the Sailors’ shelter now provides facilities for meetings, exhibitions and other gatherings.
Situated at the heart of the sea-faring community, the weekend art exhibition displayed work by local residents Vic Bates and Peter Leadley, who are both active members of the Western (IOM) Photographic Society.
They both have a liking for seascapes and maritime themes which reflected the general theme of the exhibition, interspersed with paintings of landscape, pencil drawings and motorspsort photography.
Their use of colour brought to life the alternating moods of the west coast, with many of the exhibits available for purchase.
Also on show was a selection of verse by the Manx poet Josephine Kermode (aka Cushag), with an opportunity to purchase one of the remaining copies of Peel – A Slice of Time, compiled by Vic Bates and Bill Quine.
The exhibition was organised by Peel Heritage Trust.
For further information about hiring the building contact Bill Quine on 844938.
Mavis Bell kindly sent a message of good wishes and assurance of her thoughts and Dave’s at the time of our May lunch. Unfortunately, it was delayed in the post so her greetings could not be communicated at the event. We are delighted to so it now and to extend them to all through the newsletter.
Mavis adds a kind invitation:
We are here all summer and happy to brew up a cup of tea and some bonnag for anyone from London Manx if they knock on the door of No.19 (Peveril Road, Peel.
She adds that the Island has had a cold, late Spring but the gorse is fantastic in the hedgerows and she is rediscovering the delights of gathering a few wild flowers as she did when growing up on the Island: primroses, violets and sea pinks on the headland.
(open to non-members through the web site)
1. The Walk of the Parishes is
(a) 70 miles, (b) 75 miles, (c) 80 miles, (d) 85 miles?
2. The original Castle Rushen is believed to have been built around
(a) 1252, (b) 1352, (c) 1452, (d) 1552?
3. The Manx glen in which stands a memorial to a naval victory of the Seven Years War is,
(a) Ballaglass, (b) Bishopscourt, (c) Elfin , (d) Groudle?
4. The Manx actor playing Orson Welles in a new short film is,
(a) Jamie Blackley, (b) Ray Kelly, (c) Peter Shimmin, (d) John Walker?
5. The Senior TT was reduced from seven laps to four in
(a) 1924, (b) 1934, (c) 1954, (d) 1964?
The first reader to send me five correct answers will receive a Manx £20 note.
The Editor thanks Mavis Bell, Valerie Caine, Kelly McCarthy, Sam Weller, for their kind contribution and also Culture Vannin and Manx Radio. News about you and articles (of around 450 words) about Island life are welcome and of interest to all. If in doubt, please contact me, Contributions can be sent at any time for inclusion in the next newsletter, if possible by email (barrhamilton@btinternet com) or 132 Bush Hill, N21 2BS.
Copyright is retained by the contributor.
Opinions expressed are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the editor or the Society.
Closing date for the next issue, 20th August
A couple of members have asked for this poem by Josephine Kermode, better known as Cushag and we provide it in this issue with its link to Valerie Caine’s article. I’m sure many others will know and love it:
Here’s a wickad little falla that goes among us here,
An’ the wickadness thass at him is tellin’ far an’ near;
He’s prowlin’ in the haggart an’ in at every dhure,
An’ coaxin’ an’ persuadin’, an’ his name is Traa-dy-Liooar.
The house is all through others, the childher’s late for school,
The man is spendin’ all his time in lookin’ for a tool,
The wumman’s tired thremendjus with clearin’ up the flure,
An’ the wan that’s doin’ all the jeel is wickad Traa-dy-Liooar.
The fields is full of cushag, the gates is darned with gorse,
You’ll hardly see the harness for the mire upon the horse;
The cows is shoutin’ shockin’, an’ puzzlin’ them for sure,
Is the waitin’ doin’ on them at that tejus Traa-dy-Liooar.
There’s a power of foes within us, and enemies without,
But the wan that houls the candle is that little lazy lout;
So just you take an’ scutch him, an’ put him to the dhure,
An’ navar let him in again, that tejus Traa-dy-Liooar.
14 Foxgrove Road, Beckenham, BR3 2AT
NEXT NEWSLETTER DUE IN THREE MONTHS
Douglas Barr-Hamilton, 132 Bush Hill, London N21 2BS
(telephone number 020 8360 8001)
e-mail: barrhamilton@btinternet com
Visit the Society’s web site at www londonmanxsociety com