RUSHEN HERITAGE NEWS

Volunteers sought for Mona's Queen Memorial exhibition

A meeting is being held on Tuesday, September 24th for anyone interested in volunteering for an exhibiton marking 80 years since the darkest day in the history of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

May 2020 marks the 80th anniversary of three IOMSPC vessels being lost within a 24-our period during the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk.

A dive team from the Isle of Man will be visiting the wreck of the Mona's Queen in April 2020 to lay a plaque and take photographs and video of the wreck site. 

For a fortnight either side of the anniversary on May 29th, Port St Mary Town Hall will host an exhibition commemorating the loss of Mona’s Queen, Fenella and King Orry. The exhibition is being organised by Port St Mary Commissioners, Michelle Haywood from Discover Diving, and Rushen Heritage Trust.


Topics to be included:


  • Video of the wreck site
  • Apprentice's model of the Mona’s Queen
  • IOMSPC role in Dunkirk – the other vessels
  • Personal biographies of the crews of all the vessels, with a special focus on those living in Rushen
  • The history of the Mona’s Queen including launch photos and some details about her service prior to Dunkirk
  • Artefacts from MNH and ex-SPC employees relating to the vessels


We would welcome volunteers who have skills in particular areas:


  • Researching individual histories
  • Accessing newspaper records
  • Accessing military records
  • Investigating the IoMSPC archives


Michelle explained: 'The research phase of the project is expected to run until 12th January 2020. 

The collation and editing of the research material is scheduled from 12th January to 28th February 2020, with material sent to print during March 2020. The dive expedition takes place during April 2020, with video and photo editing to be added upon our return. The exhibition will then open on 22nd May 2020 and run until June 7th 2020.


'We would like to hold an initial meeting to establish where we are and what has been done so far on Tuesday 24th September at 6pm in the Board Room of Port St Mary Town Hall. Please come along if you would like to help out with this exciting project.'


 For further details please ring Michelle on 300090 or email michelle@discoverdiving.im.


17th September 2019

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Rushen Heritage Trust - The Next Three Years

We would like to invite all volunteers, friends and supporters of Rushen Heritage Trust to an event to celebrate our first five years and look ahead to plans for the next three years.

The event takes place on Monday, September 9th at Port St Mary Town Hall, starting at 6.30pm.

It will include updates on our plans for a heritage centre on the site of the former bus shelter in Bridson Street, Port Erin, along with news on other exciting projects that are in the pipeline, and details of the launch of Living with the Sea, the Trust's latest book, which focuses on the history of Port St Mary from 1829-1979.

Hugh Davidson, who recently took over as Interim Chairman from Hon Juan Watterson MHK, said: ‘This is an opportunity for everyone interested in heritage of the "beautiful south" to have your say and get involved. The Trust has enjoyed a wonderful first five years, with seven exhibitions, attracting more than 10,000 visitors, many successful social events, and the publication of three excellent books on aspects of Rushen history, with the fourth, Living with the Sea, to be published in October.

'The next three years offer exciting opportunities for us, with the focus being the opening of the Tree Archyn (Three Arches) Heritage Centre in Port Erin. This will give us a multi-purpose base, allowing us to stage a series of ongoing mini-exhibitions, giving new life to the content we have produced, while also acting as a venue for talks, meetings and other events, in addition to providing much-needed storage space. Overall, it will support our overarching aim of attracting people to visit Rushen.

'We are putting together a team to run the heritage centre and will need volunteers to help. We also have several community projects in the pipeline over the coming years and the event on Monday, September 9th is an opportunity for the public to hear what we have planned and find out how they can get involved. We look forward to seeing everyone there!'

The event is free to attend. To help us gauge interest - and provide refreshments - if those wishing to attend could let our Coordinator John Quirk know by emailing rushenht@gmail.com or calling him on 464634. 


1 September 2019

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New Heritage Centre proposed for Rushen

 Rushen Heritage Trust has submitted plans to convert the former bus shelter on Bridson Street, Port Erin, into a heritage centre.


The centre, to be known as Tree Archyn (Three Arches), would be a multi-purpose base to support the Trust’s online and other activities.


The site, opposite the Cherry Orchard, would provide the Trust with a highly visible and low-cost centre. It would be used for small exhibitions, for talks, meetings and other events, and give much-needed storage room for existing exhibition materials, publications and equipment. Overall, it will support our overarching aim of attracting people to the ‘beautiful south’ in Rushen.


Quantity surveyor Robert Graham, who has been involved with the Trust from the beginning, is managing the project. Working with Robert is a project team chaired by Ali Graham, with Board members Doreen Moule and Staffan Overgaard, and the Trust’s coordinator, John Quirk. They will be supported by Pam Crowe, who will lead the marketing and volunteering effort, later to be assisted by Hugh Davidson.


Project leader Ali Graham said of the initiative: ‘When the Trust was founded in 2014, it was as a “museum of no fixed abode”, and the creation of a heritage centre would not change that ethos. Tree Archyn would supplement our online presence and our various activities, such as exhibitions, talks and walks. Much of the exhibition material we have created over the last five years has had limited public exposure, and the centre would allow us to showcase the work of our volunteers to a much wider audience and encourage repeat visits to Port Erin.’


Chairman of RHT, Juan Watterson added: ‘While the Trust has met or exceeded most of our first five-year objectives, we’re aware that our “visibility” has been intermittent, linked to exhibitions and book launches. We have also not had a face-to-face meeting point, especially for older people with memories to share, and volunteers. These are factors which have limited the Trust’s social interaction with the community, and we hope that the centre will redress this balance and enable us to grow our membership and attract new volunteers.’


The central section of the building – the former bus shelter – will house the centre’s public space. The two existing toilet blocks, one either side of the shelter, will be transformed – one to house a storage area, the other to house an office, unisex toilet and kitchenette.


The public space would also be used as an online research area, with a computer for public use, and to sell the Trust’s publications. It would also operate as a visitor centre for the Rushen area, offering leaflets and advice about local attractions.


The building is owned by Port Erin Commissioners and was earmarked for demolition, following the creation of a new main bus stop by the railway station, and the opening of new public toilets elsewhere in the village. The Commissioners have agreed, in principle, to a long-term lease for the Bridson Street site.


Rushen Heritage Trust will be applying to trusts and other organisations for funding support for the project, as well as launching a public fundraising drive.


If you would like to support the heritage centre project, either financially or as a volunteer, please contact Rushen Heritage Trust coordinator John Quirk at rushenht@gmail.com or call 464634. Any assistance large or small will be very welcome.


11 June 2019

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John Quirk is new RHT Coordinator

 Rushen Heritage Trust opens a new chapter in 2019 with the appointment of John Quirk as its new Coordinator.


John will be helping to deliver the Trust’s programme for 2019 and beyond, starting with a book charting the history of Port St Mary from 1829-1979, and building into a three-year plan of activities.


Manx-born John, who lives in Port Erin, is a freelance writer and event organiser. A former journalist and PR director, he has written two books – The Manx Connection and The Manx Giant – and is one of the directors of Manx Litfest, which started in 2012.


‘I’m passionate about the Isle of Man and heritage, and I’m looking forward to working with the team at Rushen Heritage Trust to explore new ways of telling the story of this wonderful area of the Island,’ said John.


'The Trust has done a huge amount of work over the last five years and I want to continue and build on that success, working alongside the management committee and a team of dedicated volunteers.’ 


Juan Watterson MHK, chairman of the Trust, said: ‘We are delighted to have John joining our team, on a freelance basis, to coordinate the Trust’s work and oversee the various projects undertaken by our action teams. He has a written extensively about heritage during his career, and coupled with his strong administrative skills, he is ideally placed to guide the Trust over the next few years.’


John can be contacted at rushenht@gmail.com or on 464634.


19 February 2019

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Friend or Foe - the story of women's internment during WWII in Port Erin & Port St Mary

Friend or Foe, the latest publication from the Rushen Heritage Trust, is on sale at all good bookshops and heritage outlets around the Isle of Man.


Written by seven members of the Trust, it is the first ever book on women's internment in Britain during World War II.


The book tells the story of how locals and internees lived together, encircled by barbed wire, with the Camp run by Manx landladies, with light touch governance from police and civil servants.


Like the seven authors who soon became friends (but often engaged in animated debates), the locals and women internees - German/Jewish refugees from Nazi oppression, Germans and Austrians who had lived peacefully in Britain for many years, and a minority of committed Nazis and fascists - all managed to 'rub along together'. The question was - who was friend, and who was foe?


The authors interviewed locals who retained vivid memories of Rushen Camp, and found much new information on the under-researched topic of World War II women's internment and soon realised the story addressed important universal themes of continuing relevance today - immigration, injustice, gender, tolerance, diversity, the nature of friendship, the ability to adapt to inequity and loss, and, most of all, the triumph of human values in difficult situations.


The publication of the book was kindly supported by  Culture Vannin and the Gough Ritchie Trust.

Friend or Foe is priced at £18.95, with all profits from the book going towards Rushen Heritage Trust, a not-for-profit charity.

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Fantastic weekend at the Pierrot Shows!

We brought the seaside back to the Beautiful South for one weekend only. On Friday 29 September we were in Port Erin. Thank you to the Falcon's Nest Hotel for hosting us.


The next stop on Saturday evening was the Port St Mary Town Hall. Young and old thoroughly enjoyed the event and we hope to run the event again in the near future.


Margaret Galloway and Peta Cubbon organised a superb exhibition about the Pierrot tradition on the Isle of Man, which was displayed at the two locations for the Pierrot Shows.


Peta Cubbon is the granddaughter of Fred Buxton, famous in his days as a show business entrepreneur and has many historical pictures and posters associated with him.


Buxton's Pierrots were at their peak in the 1920s and performed in Douglas, Onchan, Ramsey and the Traie Meanagh Baths in Port Erin. Fred Buxton built the Pierrot Village on Douglas Prom, near the old Crescent Cinema. It was an incredible entertainment area which incuded a seated arena for 2000 people.


A Pierrot Group called the Leslies performed in a wooden pavilion behind Victoria Square in Port Erin every summer from 1919 to 1939. Unfortunately the theatre burnt down a few days before the start of World War 2.


Many thanks to Margaret and Peta for master minding this fascinating exhibition, to Iris Burton for her vivid memories, and to the Gough Ritchie Trust for sponsoring the shows and exhibition.

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Success for Calendar Girl Lucy!

Rushen Heritage Trust are delighted to announce the winning entry for our 2018 Charity Calendar Competition, where we asked people to take a walk along one of the routes on the app and snap a photograph for their chance to win £100 in gift vouchers of their choice.


Over the past two weeks, people from across the island - and even as far as Canada! - have been voting for their favourite photograph from the 35 stunning entries that we received. We are now delighted to announce that Lucy Matthews from Colby is our winner, who entered a photograph of her dog Darcey on a walk at Bradda – one of the waypoints on the Port Erin route on our walking app.   


“I am by no means a professional photographer and I have no experience of using professional equipment,” says Lucy, who was thrilled to be told that her entry had won. “This photograph was taken using my iPhone camera whilst taking our rescue dog Darcey for a walk. I turned to see her close by, the sun breaking through the clouds and suddenly there was an amazing view. I quickly aimed, snapped and hoped for the best. It wasn't until I came home and took a look at the picture that I thought it was a pretty good aim! I had it printed and framed and it is still my favourite photograph.”

 

The entry received a staggering amount of engagement on social media and received 24% of the overall votes, so it was a very clear winner, but when we asked Lucy where she would like her prize vouchers to come from, she had an unexpected answer. 


“We adopted Darcey in December from a charity called Amicii, who rescue stray, abandoned and abused dogs in Romania. Volunteers work tirelessly to save as many dogs as possible and through fund raising, sponsors and donations are able to spay, neuter, treat, care for and send as many of their dogs to foster carers and adopters in the UK and on the Isle of Man. I think it is only fitting that in lieu of gift vouchers the money be donated to this charity. After all, if it wasn't for their fabulous work we'd never have adopted Darcey and she'd never have taken me for a walk that day – so a big thank you to everyone who voted for my photograph!”


Lucy’s photograph will appear on the front cover of the calendar as well as on one of the months inside. We also had eleven runners up who will all feature in the calendar too and will also receive a free copy of the calendar.  

The Isle of Man Walks app was officially launched last October with three heritage walks in Port St Mary, Port Erin and from Port St Mary to the Sound along the Raad Ny Foillan, where special beacons have been placed at specific waypoints along the route. After downloading the Isle of Man Walks app to their smartphone, walkers are able to access photographs, films and audio pieces about the local area – from facts about wildlife and nature to memories of history and heritage. The range of stunning entries we received as part of the competition shows just how beautiful the walks on the app are. We also hope that the app will help to preserve local heritage for residents and increase tourism in the local area.


“I believe Lucy richly deserves the top prize of the photographic competition as she has wonderfully captured the essence of the beautiful south that is Rushen” says Hon. Laurence Skelly MHK and one of the directors of Rushen Heritage Trust, pictured here with Lucy and her dog Darcey. “I would like to thank everyone who entered the competition, which was clearly a very high standard and encourage the general public to continue snapping and sharing their photos of Rushen via our Facebook and Twitter accounts.”


The Isle of Man Walks Calendar is now available for pre-order in our online shop and all proceeds will be used to develop more walks on the app and create new features for the local community to enjoy. 


 8th May 2017

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RHT celebrates volunteer achievements at our first presentation supper.

Over fifty volunteers and supporters of Rushen Heritage Trust enjoyed the charity’s first annual presentation dinner at Bradda Glen Restaurant last night, celebrating key achievements and contributions in a special awards ceremony. 

Hosted by Hon. Juan Watterson SHK and Professor Hugh Davidson MBE, who are both Directors on the Board of RHT, the evening included a range of talks from key members of the four Heritage Action Teams, awards presented to twelve key volunteers and supporters and a special silver medal, which was awarded to John W. Qualtrough in recognition of his collection of 160,00 historical artefacts. 


Established in 2014, Rushen Heritage Trust has built up some incredible momentum and awareness in the last three years with over 70 volunteers working within the charity, who have independently run seven successful exhibitions, produced two heritage books and created the world’s first outdoor heritage walk using iBeacon technology. Four volunteer groups – known as Heritage Action Teams or HATs – are currently active and span WW2 Internment, Story of the Land, Story of the Sea and Tourism. 


Our awards ceremony celebrated and awarded the volunteers in their achievements and successes of projects in 2016. John W. Qualtrough received a special award in recognition of the 160,000 artefacts he has developed in the last few decades and to thank him for his continued support and involvement with RHT, sharing his materials and memories with us in all that we do. We also presented a posthumous award to John K. Qualtrough’s wife Barbara, in recognition of his contributions to Rushen Heritage too. 


Twelve other volunteers were also awarded award certificates and included Staffan Overgaard, Doreen Moule, Ali Graham, Pam Crowe, Jane Saywell, David Wertheim, Sylvia Jarret, Stanley Clucas, Kerry Hudson, Sam Styles, Captain David Clarke and Gerry Callister.


2017 is set to be another exciting year for Rushen Heritage Trust with our new projects, new volunteers coming on board and the addition of our new Heritage Coordinator, which will be announced in early May. We look forward to seeing you at all of our future events and we will keep you updated with press releases and further information throughout the year. 


11 April 2017

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Meet Pamela Tomlinson, the new coordinator of Friends of Rushen Heritage

Pamela was born in Manchester and moved to Berkshire with her husband’s business before settling in the Isle of Man. She has a long relationship with the island, having had a home here for over 25 years.   Her background is in accountancy, specifically taxation. Since taking early retirement, she has been involved with a number of charities both in the UK and on the Isle of Man in a fund-raising capacity. She was Chairman of the Thames Valley Air Ambulance and also Chairman of The Princes Trust in Berkshire.     

Pamela is involved in a number of charities on the island and was part of the team that set up the Friends of St. John Ambulance. With this knowledge and experience, plus her enthusiasm for organising and meeting people, Pamela is now launching the Friends of RHT and has many fantastic ideas for special Friends Events throughout the year, which we hope to see many of our supporters at.   

For just £1 per month, you can become a “friend of Rushen Heritage Trust” and help us to tell the stories of the local community through our special events, exhibitions, publications and our interactive walking app. Find out more here.

Thank you Pamela for leading such a great initiative for RHT!       

- 1st April 2017

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Celebrating 100 years of Port St Mary with our Story of the Land HAT

One of Rushen Heritage Trust’s greatest friends and supporters, John W. Qualtrough from Port St Mary, has developed an astonishing collection of over 160,000 historical artefacts over the years which he is keen to share with the community so that they are not forgotten.   

As part of an exciting new project led by our Story of the Land HAT, John has shared his library of materials to help build up a picture of Port St Mary across a hundred years in the town’s history. The team are planning a series of events during 2017 and 2018 which will capture the stories and memories of Port St Mary and the people who have lived and worked in the town over the decades, to see how things have changed - and how they may have also stayed the same.     

Do you have stories or memories from Port St Mary that you would like to share as part of the project?   

It could be memories of when you were growing up in the town, or stories passed along through the family from relatives. You may have once visited the town on holiday or you may remember some of the shops and the people, have photographs that you could share of the landscape or the times you have visited.   

If you would like to help us tell the story of Port St Mary and help us to celebrate the history of the town, please contact staffan.overgaard@candordiagnostics.com and find out how you can be part of this special project. 


- 1st April 2017                                                 

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Friend or Foe? Our new WW2 Internment book is in its final stages!

The WW2 Internment HAT are in the final stages of producing a second publication, celebrating their two successful exhibitions on internment in Rushen. 

The book, “Friend or Foe? The Story of Rushen Camps W and Y - Women’s Internment on the Isle of Man in World War 2” is being compiled by HAT members Sandra Davidson, Pam Crowe, Alison Graham, Jane Saywell, David Wertheim and Doreen Moule (pictured left) and is based on their research about the internment camps in Rushen. 

Having mounted two extremely successful exhibitions in 2015 and 2016 about the camps, the group decided to publish their findings plus some additional material. The book is expected to be launched in the autumn.

- 1st April 2017                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

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New education links for schools and colleges with Rushen Heritage Trust.

Last September, over 200 children from schools across Rushen Sheading and Douglas enjoyed a trip to Port Erin, where they walked in the footsteps of the 3,000 women and children who were interned during the second World War.  

Led by our WW2 Internment HAT, classes from Arbory, Castletown, Rushen Primary and Schoill yn Jubilee arrived by steam train at Port Erin station - many dressed in outfits of the time - and were taken on a guided tour of the seaside town by volunteers Doreen Moule and Ali Graham, who have developed special resource packs for teaching in schools. 

The resource packs, which will soon be available to schools across the whole island, include detailed teaching presentations, posters, notes for a Walk and Talk in Port Erin, wartime recipes, registration cards and a map. If you are interested in a school resource pack, please contact Doreen on 834826.    

Rushen Heritage Trust are also keen to develop strong links with education across the island and this year we’re pleased to announce our second college placement with University College Isle of Man. Studying a two-year degree in History and Heritage, Rory Murphy hopes to bring the passion he has for heritage to his work placement and help spread the word of the beauty of the south of the island.   

“I’m a keen walker too,” says Rory, “so I’m also looking forward to the future development of the Isle of Man Walks app and being able to assist in any way I can with Rushen Heritage Trust’s programme.”   Rory will join the Story of the Land HAT from the end of April to early June to get involved with their major projects as part of his work placement.


- 30th March 2017

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Tourism HAT announces plans for Pierrot Shows in Rushen this autumn

Our Tourism HAT have announced plans to stage a traditional “Pierrot Show” in September, with two performances lined up in both Port Erin and Port St Mary.

By the nineteenth century the holiday industry was beginning to flourish and in France, pierrot shows became tradition having been developed from “Comedie del Arte”. They were much admired by an English entertainer called Clifford Essex who created a troupe of English entertainers to perform in seaside towns such as Brighton, Southend and Blackpool. Traditionally dressed in white costumes with black pompoms and white painted faces, pierrot shows became an active part of entertainment between 1890 and 1960 across the UK and also in Douglas, Ramsey and Port Erin on the Isle of Man.

Leslie and Dorothy Ford came to the island each summer with their pierrot troupe and “Leslie’s” pierrot shows were performed regularly at Leslie’s Pavilion – then situated adjacent to what is now the Erin Arts Centre – which was mysteriously destroyed by a fire just before the start of WW2.

This autumn, we’re reviving the pierrot tradition by adapting their principles to showcase the considerable amount of talent we have locally and to honour and celebrate the heritage bequeathed to use by the pierrots of the past. If the shows are successful, the plan is to re-establish the pierrot experience as an ongoing tradition to acknowledge and develop this important part of our cultural heritage.

The Gough Ritchie charitable trust has kindly agreed to support the project and our artistic director, Susie Beswick, is now finalising the cast in what promises to be an exciting programme of entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.


Save the dates!

Friday 29th September, The Falcon’s Nest in Port Erin

Saturday 30th September, Port St Mary Town Hall


- 12th March 2017

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