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Revisiting the Isle Of Man

Page history last edited by Ann Vipond 5 years, 6 months ago




Revisiting the Isle Of Man


Where the Story Starts

I first visited the Isle of man in July 1962.  I was 19 years old and in the summer holiday between 6th Form and attending University College London to study Physics.  It was my first holiday that did not involve family members. I went with my best school friend Tony who had left school after O levels and had been working in the Treasurers department of Bolton County Borough council for three years.  


A couple of years earlier I had started to take photographs with my Stepfather's Zeiss folding 120 film camera.  This took 12 square pictures on a roll of film.  I had also recently got into colour photography as well as black and white but this was very expensive and I allowed myself two films for this holiday together with Two black and white films.    At that time I was keeping my prints in an annotated photo album.   I still have this album and my strong memories of the visit so in our recent visit in September 2018 some 56 years later the comparisons between these two visits separated by more than half a century are very interesting.


A little bit of Background about the Isle Of Man


This was taken from the Wikipedia entry

The Isle of Man sometimes referred to simply as Mann, is a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. The head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who holds the title of Lord of Mann and is represented by a Lieutenant Governor. Defence is the responsibility of the United Kingdom.

Insurance and online gambling generate 17% of GNP each, followed by information and communications technology and banking with 9% each.

The island has been inhabited since before 6500 BC. Gaelic cultural influence began in the 5th century AD, and the Manx language, a branch of the Gaelic languages, emerged. In 627, Edwin of Northumbria conquered the Isle of Man along with most of Mercia. In the 9th century, Norsemen established the Kingdom of the Isles. Magnus III, King of Norway, was King of Mann and the Isles between 1099 and 1103.

In 1266, the island became part of Scotland under the Treaty of Perth, after being ruled by Norway. After a period of alternating rule by the kings of Scotland and England, the island came under the feudal lordship of the English Crown in 1399. The lordship revested into the British Crown in 1765, but the island never became part of the 18th-century Kingdom of Great Britain or its successors the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the present-day United Kingdom. It retained its internal self-government.

In 1881, the Isle of Man parliament, Tynwald, became the first national legislative body in the world to give women the right to vote in a general election, but this excluded married women.  In 2016, the Isle of Man was awarded biosphere reserve status by UNESCO.


A few more bits from my own knowledge and researches

The Isle Of Man is not a member of the EU and uses the pound a currency but has its own coins and notes. It claims that Tynwald is the oldest parliamentary ruling system of government dating from norse times.  


It has a considerable industrial heritage as it was an important heavy metal mining area because of the nature of its geology.  Also as the island does not have any coal deposits but does have a reasonable supply of water and is quite high  water power was used for much more there.





Tourism in the island started as early as 1830 one of its big scenic attractions were its wooded glens with modest streams and waterfalls many of which were developed with footpaths leading to sheltered coves  This resulted in the development of many victorian hotels and guest houses very visible in the Capital Douglas with some in Castletown an earlier capital.  Most of the other towns were essentially industrial fishing and agricultural villages


The island did have a steam railway starting in 1873 connecting most of the major towns.  The Douglas to Peel and Ramsey line was closed in 1968.  When I went in 1962  the Douglas to Peel line was still operating and we rode on it via the Tynwald hill and Kirkbradden to Peel.  The line from  Douglas to Port Erin is still open and we rode on it on our recent holiday.



The Douglas to Port Erin Steam Railway  

Electric power was applied to transport in 1893 the form of an electric railway or tramway along the east coast linking Douglas with Ramsey via Laxey we rode the full extent of the line on both the recent and my earlier 1962 holiday. There is also a mountain railway to the top of Snaefell the highest peak on the island which we rode both times.  The electric tramway provided convenient access to most of the developed coastal glens for walking and recreation.  because of the shorter route it provided quicker access to Ramsey and contributed to the demise of the steam line which became mostly for goods traffic.


Laxey Station with Ramsey bound tram and trailer. Two Snaefell mountain trams at the back


 One other ancient means of transport still remains that is the horse drawn tramway that runs along the sea front promenade in Douglas and links the terminal of the electric tramway with the port and railway station.


Horse drawn trams on the promenade in 1962


Impressions of our visits

The lasting impression of my recent visit was that very little had changed since 1962!  This was even true down to small remembered details of the promenade. It is of course true that some modern buildings had been built and some building work on cleared sites was going on and many of the shops had been modernised.  There was one major feature of the transport system that had changed radically that was the bus service. in 2018 there is a very good bus service that runs all over the island with many routes and reasonably frequent timetables clearly displayed no doubt there are taxi services but they were not obvious.

In 1962 I don not remember much about any bus services but there were a vast number of Taxis and coaches with Hackney carriage licenses all parked up and down the promenade plying and offering trips to various parts of the island with a note of how long you got to look at the spot and/or the route they took and a return time, usually with a price. when they had got enough people on board they would set off for the trip. This was a very good way of visiting parts of the island that were not accessible by the trains or trams.



A Manx Cat  (no tail just a stump)


The Manx Triskeleon  (the legs of Mann)



To look at all the images in this page in full resolution go to the folder

Revisiting the IOM images   


Ian Kimber Oct 2018

  Ballaglass Glen in July 1962



Peel castle in 1962

Peel castle in 2018



The 1962 Hotel


in 2018


The promenade late evening 1962

The promenade late evening 2018



Fishing boat in Peel harbour  2018 


Riding on a horse Tram 2018

Looking north from the top of Snaefell 2018


Looking south from the top of Snaefell 2018

Only the edge of the island was visible the day we went up.  On a really clear day Scotland, England, Wales, Southern Ireland and Northern Ireland are all visible we dod see the Lake District mountains and the Mountains of Morne from lower altitudes on other days.


We both had a great holiday both times that I went.


In 1962 with my school friend Tony (who I am still in touch with) made good use of the transport systems and coaches to get around and visit and did quite a lot of walking in the glens.


In 2018 with my wife Jose we were in a coach trip and toured the island to visit a lot of places including the Snaefell railway but did not visit any glens.  On our free day we really did the heritage transport systems using a one day "all transport" rover ticket by getting the first steam train from Douglas to Port Erin coming back in time for lunch in a traditional Douglas harbour Pub, We then rode the Hose Tram up the promenade to The electric tram Terminus and Rode the Electric tram via Laxey to Ramsey and caught the last tram back from Ramsey to get back to the hotel in time for dinner.








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