Following the success of last month’s Port St Mary Secret Gardens, Rushen Heritage Trust is opening 10 TOP SECRET Gardens during its Port Erin in World War II event, which takes place over the August bank holiday weekend. Running from Friday, August 27th until Monday, August 30th, Port Erin in World War II will include attractions each day, including three wonderful exhibitions:
The Railway Station will host an exhibition on the unique Internment Camp in Port Erin recalling the time 4,000 foreign women arrived in 1940; the Trust’s new Rushen Heritage Centre in Bridson Street will host a World War II exhibition by the Manx Aviation & Military Museum; and the Legion Hall in Droghadfayle Road will be home to James Fenton’s amazing pictures of the Burma Campaign. The TOP SECRET Gardens will be open on Saturday and Sunday, August 28th and 29th.
Rushen Heritage Trust fundraiser Pamela Crowe, Co-Chair of Friends of RHT, has pulled the weekend together.
She said: ‘We thought it was a shame that the popular Island at War event is not taking place this year, so Rushen Heritage Trust stepped in and there is now a full programme over the four days. We are working closely with Visit Port Erin and it will be a great opportunity to learn about the unique history of Port Erin and, for those who love a skeet, some lovely gardens to visit.’
WWII IN THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH - Rushen Heritage & Visitor Centre - curated by Ivor Ramsden from the Manx Aviation & Military Museum
RUSHEN INTERNMENT CAMP - Port Erin Railway Station – curated by Rushen Heritage Trust, telling the story of the Women’s and Children’s Internment Camp
WAR IN BURMA - Port Erin British Legion Hall - Paintings by Burma Star Veteran James Fenton
Friday 27th August: 10am – 4pm:
Saturday 28th August: 10am – 4pm:
Sunday 29th August: 10am – 4pm:
Monday 30th August: 10am – 4pm:
Keep an eye out for 'Laurel and Hardy', who will be around during the weekend to entertain - and if you want to really join in with the atmosphere, why not dig out any 1940s-style gear you have and dress up!
Entry to the TOP SECRET Gardens is by brochure, which costs £5 and admits two people. We always welcome anyone who is interested in volunteering at our events – if you can help over the four-day weekend, please contact Pamela via email – email@example.com or on 834614 or 473768.
An Tynwald weekend's Secret Gardens & Hidden Treasures event in Port St Mary, organised by the Friends of Rushen Heritage Trust, proved a huge success, with around 2,500 people visiting the village and raising almost £5,000 for the Trust.
The weekend saw 10 beautiful gardens in Port St Mary and Cregneash open to the public and an antique and collectors fair at Port St Mary Town Hall.
Organiser Pam Crowe, Co-Chair of the Friends of RHT, said: 'We could not have raised these funds without the kindness of the homeowners who agreed to open their beautiful gardens for the weekend.
'We would like to thank everyone who volunteered their time over the weekend and helped make it such a fantastic success – and, of course, to all those who visited the village over the weekend to view the gardens and attend the fair. The event brought extra business for Rushen’s many fine shops and eateries.’
Pam is not one for resting on her laurels - she is already busy working with volunteers to plan the Trust's next event, 'Port Erin in World War II', which will run over the August bank holiday weekend - Friday, August 27th through to Monday, August 30th.
'This will be a unique event celebrating the 4,000 foreign women who arrived for internment in Port Erin in 1940,' said Pam. 'We are planning two wonderful exhibitions, a German "flea market", vintage vehicles, a “ration book” challenge, children's activities and internment trains, with lots of prizes on offer. So, we are looking for everyone to dig out their 1940s gear and join in the four days of fun celebrating Port Erin's rich history.
'The first exhibition will be at the Railway Station, focusing on Internment, with the second being at our new Rushen Heritage Centre in Bridson Street, which will host a visiting exhibition curated by Ivor Ramsden from the Manx Aviation and Military Museum at Ronaldsway.
'Finally, following on from the success of Port St Mary's Secret Gardens, there will also be 10 top secret gardens open around Port Erin over the August bank holiday weekend. It should all make for a fantastic few days.'
Pam added: 'We are always in need of volunteers for these events, so if you would like to get involved in any way, please give me a call on 834614 or 473768.'
An exciting new chapter dawns for Rushen Heritage Trust (RHT) this week with the opening of our new heritage centre in Bridson Street, Port Erin.
The project to redevelop the former bus shelter began two years ago and, despite delays caused by Covid-19 lockdowns, Rushen Heritage Centre (RHC) will open its doors to the public for the first time on Tuesday, June 29th.
The centre will open from 10.00am-4.00pm Tuesday to Saturday, from Easter until late October/early November each year, providing a multi-purpose base to support Rushen Heritage Trust’s activities.
Exhibitions will be central to RHC, with a new topic featured approximately every six weeks. The first exhibition is a collaboration with the Isle of Man Public Record Office, looking at the ‘Lives & Landmarks of Rushen’. This will feature photographs and plans showcasing the local landscape and its people from early to mid-20th century.
The Centre was officially opened at a private event on Saturday evening, June 26th.
Doreen Moule, Chair of RHT, explained: ‘Since the Trust was founded in 2014, we have enjoyed great success with a series of exhibitions, which have attracted more than 10,000 people to Rushen, and published four well-received books, alongside many other events. Two years ago, we identified a need to have a physical base, somewhere for the public to come and meet us, learn about the work we do, and hopefully get involved with our projects.
‘In addition to exhibitions, the centre will stock our books, host regular meetings, and serve as a visitor centre for the Rushen area, providing information on both heritage and tourism.’
The idea of transforming the bus shelter into a heritage centre came from Staffan Overgaard, one of the Trust’s directors.
The building project was skilfully managed by quantity surveyor Robert Graham and Ali Graham, of Robert Graham & Co, who carried out the work pro bono. They developed the plans for RHC, submitted the planning application and put the project out to tender, with the building work undertaken by J&J Building Contractors, who were excellent.
Ali, who is the RHT Treasurer, said: ‘We have received wonderful financial support towards RHC from several organisations and private individuals, including Manx Lottery Trust, Gough Ritchie Charitable Trust, Elizabeth Clucas Charitable Trust, Lord Cockfield Memorial Trust, Celton Manx, Visit Isle of Man, Isle of Man Government’s Town & Village Regeneration Scheme, and a significant donation from RHT co-founders Hugh and Sandra Davidson. In addition, several of our suppliers gave us generous discounts or provided items free of charge, which was wonderful.
‘The Friends of RHT has held several superb fundraising events – the next will be Port St Mary Secret Gardens & Hidden Treasures, which will take place over Tynwald weekend July 3rd-5th – and our sincere thanks to all volunteers who have helped with those events.
‘Our thanks also to Port Erin Commissioners, with whom we agreed a 99-year lease at £1 a year – and we have already paid up our 99 years’ rent in advance!’
Pamela Crowe leads the RHC Operations Team.
She said: ‘This is an exciting time for RHT and the culmination of a lot of hard work by a wonderful team of people. We have more than 40 volunteers who have kindly offered their time to “staff” the centre and we are indebted to those volunteers, because without their commitment the vision for the project would not have been possible. It has been a real team effort to see this project through to fruition and we cannot wait to open the centre and welcome visitors.’
In recognition of their excellent work on RHC, Saturday night’s official opening will see Doreen present the Trust’s highest honour, the Silver Medal for Outstanding Performance, to Pamela, Ali and Robert. Only five Silver Medals have been awarded in our seven-year history.
If you would like to know more about Rushen Heritage Centre, or if you would like to volunteer at the centre, please contact RHT Coordinator John Quirk at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 464634.
One of our major fundraising events of the year will take place over Tynwald weekend, with beautiful gardens to view around Port St Mary and a huge antique and collectors fair being held in the Town Hall.
Organised by the Friends of Rushen Heritage Trust, the three-day Secret Gardens & Hidden Treasures event runs from Saturday, July 3rd through to Monday, July 5th, from 10am-4pm each day.
There will be 10 gardens open to view around the village, the antique and collectors fair at Port St Mary Town Hall, and a Farmers' Market and Hog Roast centred around the Town Hall.
Admittance is with a brochure, which costs £5 and admits two people.
Brochures are available from various outlets island-wide including:
The weekend will raise funds towards the running costs of the Trust's new Rushen Heritage Centre at 1 Bridson Street, Port Erin, which opens to the public for the first time on Tuesday, June 29th.
Organiser Pam Crowe said: 'Our previous Secret Gardens & Hidden Treasures event, in Port Erin two years ago, was a huge success, raising several thousand pounds towards the work of Rushen Heritage Trust. We want to make this Port St Mary even bigger, and we are looking forward to a fantastic weekend. The gardens are truly beautiful, and the antique and collectors fair will be packed with stalls - we only have one or two still available, so do get in touch quickly if you would like a table.'
Pam is marshalling a team of volunteers to ensure the weekend runs smoothly, but would welcome any additional support.
She said: 'We have a wonderful team of volunteers at Rushen Heritage, but we never turn away offers of help. If anyone has an hour or two to spare over the Tynwald weekend, we would love to hear from you.'For further information, please call Pam on 834614 or 473768.'
With the Island going into lockdown as of tomorrow (Thursday, January 7th), we have to postpone the next of our series of talks - Around the South in 30 objects, with Manx National Heritage's Allison Fox - which was scheduled to take place on Monday, January 11th at the Erin Arts Centre.
We are hoping to rearrange this to another date, and will update supporters about subsequent talks in due course (along with information about refunds, should they be required).
The Pudding Clubs planned for January 14th and 21st at St Catherine's Church Hall have been cancelled - we will update regarding future dates as and when we have more information.
Rushen Heritage Trust (RHT) is in discussions with Port Erin Commissioners regarding both their demolition decision of the Cosy Nook, and their current planning application for an Art Deco style new building.
RHT opposes the demolition decision and submitted a six-page objection to the planning application for the new building on 14th July 2020. However, there are Areas of Agreement between RHT and the Commissioners and Areas for Discussion, and we are hopeful that a way forward can be found which will satisfy the public both in Port Erin and elsewhere.
AREAS OF AGREEMENT
1. We would both prefer to work together in cooperation as in the past, since both Port Erin Commissioners and RHT Directors are all unpaid volunteers working for the benefit of the community.
2. We both want to get this iconic site back into active use as soon as possible as an all-year-round community asset, with a larger modernised interior providing relaxing spaces and panoramic views.
3. It would be ideal to have an agreed blueprint for going forward before the new Commissioners' Election in April 2021.
AREAS FOR FURTHER DISCUSSION
1. Commissioners' Plan to demolish the Cosy Nook building.
This has been approved by the Commissioners for a variety of reasons, including the desire to use the enlarged outdoor space for future local activities and events. RHT opposes demolition now. There is no immediate urgency. The building is not dangerous or falling down and it is uninhabited. If there are vermin, that can be dealt with. The ‘Save the Cosy Nook’ online petition has already attracted more than 1,400 supporters in its first three days.
The residents of St Catherine's Terrace also deserve consideration. Demolishing now and rebuilding sometime in the future would involve two separate periods of major disruption for them, and an empty site for an indefinite time to lower their spirits.
RHT believes that any future demolition should only occur when there is an approved plan and agreed start & finish date for a new Cosy Nook building. While much of the current building interior may need to be demolished, the architect should have the option of re-using existing heritage materials or retaining part or all the existing front exterior. If the building is demolished now, that option would disappear forever. RHT also fears that the levelled site could remain empty for many years, as has happened elsewhere in Port Erin with the former Ocean Castle Hotel site and the Marine Biological Station, both empty for more than 10 years.
2. Should the new building be Art Deco as currently proposed or heritage style frontage with modern and enlarged interior?
RHT strongly supports the latter approach. In June, an online poll (conducted by RHT) produced 879 replies. 63% voted against the proposed new Art Deco building, 33% were in favour, and 4% were indifferent. Among Port Erin residents, as many as 68% voted against. These are decisive results in market research terms. The survey also invited people to make comments. An astonishing 87% did, demonstrating the strength of feeling on the topic. RHT has spent many days studying these comments. Based on them, a new building specification could be developed in tune with public preferences, and this would certainly include a Manx heritage style frontage at least reminiscent of the original.
3. Could the current Planning Application be withdrawn?
RHT recommends this. It is a way of saving time which both the Commissioners and RHT want. The clock is ticking and the summers of 2019, 2020 and 2021 will have passed without the Cosy Nook Cafe.
The application has already been with the Planning Department for almost five months. Even if it is approved soon, there are likely to be time consuming follow up processes to be followed before building work begins, since the current plan is opposed by the Principal Registered Buildings Officer, Ross Brazier; DEFA; and the Isle of Man Natural History & Antiquarian Society, as well as RHT. If the Plan was approved, RHT would immediately call a public meeting to give the public the right to respond and to agree on an action plan. Each of these steps would lose us time.
If the application was withdrawn by PEC, the next steps would be to draw up a new specification reflecting input from the recent online Poll; appointing an architect with a successful track record in modernising heritage buildings in the IOM; working closely with Ross Brazier; and ideally having the modernised building ready for occupation by summer 2022.
We would welcome any comments or suggestions from the public – please send them to RHT Coordinator John Quirk at email@example.com by 22nd December 2020.
Our new season of talks gets underway on Monday, December 7th, with Charles Guard speaking about his career 'Filming the Isle of Man'.
Over the last 40 years, Charles has made many videos about the history and culture of the Isle of Man. In this illustrated talk, Charles recalls some of the more amusing events that have occurred and gives an insight into the problems and pitfalls of the filming process.
The talk starts at 7.30pm (doors 7pm) at the Erin Arts Centre. Tickets cost £5 - or £4 for Friends of RHT - and are available from Erin News, Bridge Bookshop, and Erin Arts Centre (all Port Erin) and Calvert Newsagents in Port St Mary.
This season's other talks:
Monday, January 11th
Allison Fox, Curator of Archaeology at MNH – Around the South in 30 Objects
Monday, February 8th
To be confirmed
Monday, March 8th
Alison Jones, Trustee and Lead Researcher at Knockaloe Centre for WW1 Internment – Life at Knockaloe told through five Artefacts
Monday, April 12th
Peter Kelly, Historian – A Postcard Tour of the Isle of Man
Monday, May 10th
Pamela Crowe, RHT Internment Team – Mistaken Identities
We are offering a discount to anyone who would like to book tickets to all six talks - £25, or £20 to Friends of RHT. If you would like to take advantage of this discount, please email John at firstname.lastname@example.org before Charles Guard's talk on December 7th.
Unfortunately, we have just learned that the speaker we had lined up for February has had to withdraw, but we should have details of the new speaker soon.
Rushen Heritage Trust has a new Chair, with Doreen Moule taking over the role from Hugh Davidson MBE.
Doreen has been involved with the Trust since its inception in 2014 and leads its World War II Women’s Internment team.
She played a lead role in the Trust’s two most recent books – Friend or Foe?, the story of World War II women’s internment in Port Erin and Port St Mary, for which she acted as coordinator and wrote a chapter; and she wrote a chapter for Living with the Sea, which tells the story of Port St Mary and its people from 1829-1979.
During Doreen’s time as Chair, the new Tree Arçhyn Heritage Centre in Bridson Street, Port Erin, led by Pamela Crowe overall and by Robert and Alison Graham on the building side, will be completed and opened to the public at Easter 2021. It will serve as a multi-purpose base to support RHT’s activities.
Doreen said: ‘I am looking forward to my time as Chair of RHT and the many events planned for the coming year, particularly the opening of the Tree Arçhyn Heritage Centre. This is an exciting new venture for the Trust and its important role in the community. As ever, we are seeking to share our research with local people and visitors alike and we look forward to welcoming you all to Tree Arçhyn.’
Born in Wolverhampton, Doreen grew up in the Black Country and trained as a teacher in Birmingham, where she taught in a primary school from 1970 to 1999. In 1999, she moved to the Isle of Man to take up a teaching post, retiring in 2008.
She has lived in Rushen since 2004 and still retains a keen interest in education, being the Trust’s Schools Liaison Officer.
Hugh and Sandra Davidson were the Co-Founders of the Trust six years ago and both still serve on the Board. Hugh served a year as Chair after taking over from Speaker of the House of Keys, the Hon Juan Watterson SHK in autumn 2019.
Hugh said: ‘Doreen has been a major player in the success of Rushen Heritage Trust, leading the WWII Women’s Internment Team from the beginning in 2014. The Team has run two exhibitions attracting more than 6,000 people, published two books, one sold out, the other in its second edition, and the Team is making an impact internationally. She also initiated and led the Trust's schools' program within and outside Rushen. Doreen is a great team person and highly respected by her colleagues. Her appointment as Chair is well deserved.’
9 November 2020
Work is underway on the creation of the new Tree Archyn Rushen Heritage Centre in Port Erin.
Tree Archyn, which is Manx for ‘three arches’, will serve as a multi-purpose base to support Rushen Heritage Trust’s activities. Work on converting the former bus shelter site in Bridson Street was delayed because of Covid-19, but it is now underway and should be completed by December, with Tree Archyn opening to the public for the first time at Easter 2021.
To give everyone a chance to find out more about Tree Archyn, Rushen Heritage Trust is holding an Open Day (2.00pm-8.00pm) on Friday, October 9th at St Catherine’s Church Hall in Church Road, Port Erin.
Pamela Crowe is leading the team that will run the centre. She said: ‘It is wonderful to finally see work underway on Tree Archyn. It will be used for small exhibitions, talks, and meetings, and provide a visitor centre for the Rushen area, offering leaflets and advice about local attractions. The Open Day is an opportunity for the public, and our volunteers, to drop by St Catherine’s Church Hall for a drink and a chat, to see the plans and meet new friends. The Open Day is an ideal opportunity for anyone who is interested in getting involved with our team to come along and learn more.’
The building project is being managed by quantity surveyor Robert Graham and RHT Treasurer Ali Graham, with the work being undertaken by J&J Building Contractors. Doreen Moule, who chairs our successful WWII Women’s Internment team, is also importantly involved with Tree Archyn.
Ali said: ‘Tree Archyn could not have happened without funding support from several organisations and private individuals, including Manx Lottery Trust, Gough Ritchie Trust, Elizabeth Ann Clucas Trust, Lord Cockfield Trust, Celton Manx, and the Isle of Man Government’s Town & Village Regeneration Scheme.
‘We would like to thank everyone who has supported the project, and all those volunteers who will help bring Tree Archyn to life when it opens in April next year. Our thanks also to Port Erin Commissioners, with whom we agreed a 99-year lease at £1 a year – and we have already paid up our 99 years’ rent in advance!’
The Trust is appealing for some assistance for its storage area within Tree Archyn. Pamela explained: ‘We are looking for a chart or map chest to store posters, and Dexion shelving for storage. We are happy with second hand and happy to pay. If anyone can help, please call me on 473768.’
Rushen Heritage Trust and Port St Mary Commissioners have teamed up to launch a heritage scheme which tells the story behind how a street or road got its name.
The first nine ‘names’ are in place now, with more to follow over the coming year.
The first signs can be seen at:
· Fistard Road
· Clifton Road
· Truggan Road
· Clugston’s Gut
· Alfred Pier
· Lime Street
· Bay View Road
· Karran Quirk Footpath
· Cronk Road
Each sign gives the name in Manx and English, along with background as to why a location is so named.
The information on the names was researched as part of the book Living with the Sea, published by Rushen Heritage Trust in October 2019. Co-written by 10 volunteer authors, it tells the history of Port St Mary and its people from 1829-1979.
The idea was the brainchild of RHT Board Member Staffan Overgaard, who wrote the chapter in Living with the Sea which focuses on street names, alongside Port St Mary historian John W. Qualtrough.
Staffan said: ‘When in one of the suburbs of Hannover, Germany, I saw street signs with an explanatory text. I thought that was an excellent idea. I remember the street name – “Bernd-Strauch-Weg”. I had no idea who that Strauch was, but the text on the sign explained he was some kind of local commissioner.
'I kept the idea and when researching for Living with the Sea, I thought the sign idea would be an excellent way of raising awareness of the village’s heritage. I hope that the people of Port St Mary like the idea, and that it also brings visitors to the port to see what we have done. Hopefully other towns and villages around the Island will want to follow in our footsteps.’
The street sign project was welcomed by the Board of Port St Mary Commissioners.
Chair Michelle Haywood said: ‘This is an excellent example of the enthusiasm of local residents, extending their knowledge and curiosity to share with everyone these historical names. We are grateful for the volunteers at Rushen Heritage Trust, who have provided us with many more interesting signs.
'As the street signs come up for replacement, we shall look to roll out more of these enhanced signs. Keeping alive the reasons for the street names is such an important part of our social history.’
The joint project sees Rushen Heritage Trust cover the cost of this first batch of street names. The signs for the rest of the street names around the village will be supplied by the Commissioners, with the Trust supplying the explanatory text. Living with the Sea is priced at £18.99 and is available in our online shop or from all Isle of Man bookshops.
Rushen Heritage Trust (RHT) is opposing the plans submitted by Port Erin Commissioners to redevelop the Cosy Nook site.
The popular café, located at the end of St Catherine’s Terrace on Shore Road, has been empty since the lease expired in May 2019 and earlier this year the Commissioners unveiled their plans for a redeveloped art deco-style building.
Having received strong comments for and against the new plans, RHT conducted a survey, which drew 879 replies – with 63% voting against the proposed new building, 33% in favour, and 4% indifferent. Of the 879 respondents, 37% were Port Erin residents – and of those, 68% were against the plans, with 28% in favour.
Chairman of RHT, Hugh Davidson, said: ‘We would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to the survey. It is obvious that the Cosy Nook has been a much-loved café for many years and people have strong feelings about it, which was shown by almost 90% of respondents leaving comments explaining their views. These views are proof of the strength of feeling about the site, on both sides. With 63% voting against the new plans, it is a decisive result and, as such, the Trust is therefore submitting an objection to the Planning Committee.’
Concerns raised by those against the Commissioners’ plans:
· A need to retain the traditional façade, so as not to lose the site’s uniqueness/character
· New building is too large, and not in keeping with the site
· Site will lose its cosy/quaint/charming/tranquil aspects
· Parking issues/congestion
· Loss of Manx character and the need to preserve heritage
Of those in favour, many considered the plans to be exciting and forward-looking, praising the Commissioners for moving with the times and showing vision.
Mr Davidson added: ‘We are recommending that the new-look Cosy Nook should be a building with traditional Manx cottage style frontage, which fits the heritage setting of St Catherine’s Terrace, and links with the cosy, charming, informal characteristics of the Cosy Nook. The interior would need to fit modern customer requirements and provide spectacular views of the sea. Hopefully, a significant part of the internal decoration and pictures would recall and celebrate the Cosy Nook's memorable past.
‘Of course, we recognize that the substantial minority who favoured the application also had strong views, sincerely held, and courteously expressed, and appreciate their participation in the poll. We also respect the motivations of Port Erin Commissioners in submitting the planning application.’
Irrespective of the decision by the Planning Committee, the Trust is recommending that the Commissioners convene a public meeting to enable them to outline their proposals, and to allow people to express their views face-to-face.
Mr Davidson said: ‘There are several issues which need to be addressed. We recommend that an external lift is installed, creating direct access to the new Cosy Nook from the Promenade, so that those visiting can park “above” on the Promenade. This would have the added benefit of making it more likely for visitors to shop in Church Road. Parking is already a problem in St Catherine’s Terrace during summer. The parking spaces outside the Cosy Nook could be reserved for nearby residents and disabled people. A more traditional building seems likely to be less expensive and savings could contribute to cost of lift.’
The Trust is conscious that timing is important since the community has already lost two summer seasons of the Cosy Nook. While a 2021 opening for a new building may be too optimistic, priority should be given to accelerating the planning, consultation and building process.
The Trust feels it is essential that strong consideration is given to the needs of the residents of St Catherine’s Terrace, a narrow street with some historic buildings.
The Cosy Nook planning application (reference 20/00598/B) can be viewed at: www.gov.im/viewapplications. The deadline for submissions to the Planning Committee is 17th July 2020. They can be sent to email@example.com or to the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, Planning & Building Control Directorate, Murray House, Mount Havelock, Douglas, IM1 2SF.
Port Erin Commissioners are submitting a planning application for the Cosy Nook site on Shore Road, which would see a new building replace the existing traditonal stone cottage. The Board of Rushen Heritage Trust is developing its position on the plans, and we want to consider the opinions of our supporters when doing so. To help us, we are asking our supporters to complete a very short survey - only two questions - after which you are invited to leave a comment. The survey will close at 9.00am on Saturday, 27th June 2020. The link to the survey is below - it includes links to the Cosy Nook proposal, plans and images which are on the Port Erin Commissioners website, which you may wish to review before taking the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/F5LCTM7 Thank you for taking the time to complete the survey.
First and most importantly, I hope you are managing to adapt to this new situation and keeping safe. As someone who was a boy on the Island during WWII, it's one of the most disruptive environments I can recall.
People will remember their experiences in this period in 20 years' and 50 years' time, and their successors will want to hear about them. We are creating tomorrow's heritage and memories today.
At Rushen Heritage Trust, we are adapting quickly. In summary, we will do all the things we had previously planned, but use a wider range of online communication, keep in touch with our more elderly supporters by phone or surface mail, and in a few cases, postpone activities.
For 2020, our Coordinator John Quirk has already established the successful new series of Winter Talks, with audiences of more than 100 people, and regular volunteer meetings. He has also booked exciting speakers for the 2020/21 series, and we expect the first talk to be in early November at the Erin Arts Centre.
Major activity in 2020 would have been the opening in mid-summer of the new Tree Archyn Heritage Centre, converting the former bus shelter building opposite the Cherry Orchard. Our Buildings Team, led outstandingly well by Robert and Ali Graham, both qualified quantity surveyors, is ready to move fast once it is possible to start building work. We already have approvals from the Planning Committee and Department of Infrastructure, have signed a 99-year lease at £1/year with supportive Port Erin Commissioners, developed detailed specs & bills of materials, and shortlisted possible suppliers. The Hon Juan Watterson SHK has been really helpful in this approval process, as has Clerk to PE Commissioners, Jason Roberts.
Thanks to generous funders and proceeds from Port Erin Secret Gardens, organised by Pam Crowe in summer 2019, we have almost reached our funding target, and are ready to start. The stop press news is that, through Eddie Lowey, the Cockburn Trust has generously donated £6,500 to the project.
Pam, who, together with Pamela Tomlinson, heads our Friends of RHT, has also given talks on WWII Women’s Internment to large international audiences on cruise ships, and has many future talks on the topic booked in the IOM and Florida.
Much of our time in 2020 will be spent preparing for a big year in 2021, since some projects have quite long lead times. Major activities in 2021, in addition to opening Tree Archyn Centre, will be:
1. Events to mark the 150th anniversary of the building of Milner Tower. They will cover the life of William Milner, Port Erin's biggest benefactor, the building itself and Bradda Head as a notable place.
2. Activities to celebrate 90th anniversary of The World's Best Photograph, a competition run by Kodak in 1931. The value of first prize, a picture of the photographer's girlfriend on Bradda Head, was worth more than £300,000 in today's money. We are planning a photographic competition, hopefully in partnership with Southern Photographic Society. It will be open to people all over the world, must be a photograph of the South of the Island, and will be linked to Visit Isle of Man to attract more tourists.
3. Knockaloe WWI Internment exhibition in Port St Mary, set up by our partners in Patrick, who have done world-class work on WWI Internment.
We expect the Heritage Centre to be open by early 2021 and are delighted to have at least 25 volunteers who have kindly offered their time to help operate it.
Doreen Moule will be continuing to lead the highly knowledgeable WWII Women’s Internment Team, and, with Ali Graham, our Schools programme. Another Director, Staffan Overgaard, will be spearheading the exciting new Heritage Street Signs project with Port St Mary Commissioners, as well as the relaunch of our I-Beacon Walk project.
All four of our books have sold well, with Living with the Sea one of the bestselling Manx books last Christmas season. Friend or Foe has already been reprinted.
John Quirk will shortly be writing to tell you how we plan to progress these activities online in the new environment, inviting supporters to volunteer for our project groups, and suggesting new ways in which we can create tomorrow's heritage today in our current ‘once in a century’ situation.
Many thanks for all you have done to make Rushen Heritage Trust a success since its launch in 2014, both in heritage and for the community.
Best wishes, Hugh
Hugh Davidson MBE
Chair, Rushen Heritage Trust
Given the troubling times we all face in light of the Covid-19 Coronavirus outbreak, we regret that we must postpone the following events:
1) The next volunteers' meeting at the Erin Arts Centre on Tuesday, March 24th. 2) Wish You Were Here: A postcard tour of the Isle of Man, with historian Peter Kelly - this was scheduled for the EAC on Monday, April 6th. This was to be the final event in our very successful season of Winter Talks - we are aiming to rearrange this as part of our 2020/21 season of Winter Talks, for which we already have several excellent speakers lined up. 3) The WWII Women's Internment exhibition, which was to be held at Port Erin Railway Station in late May/early June. We will look to reschedule this at a later date.
We can also advise that the proposed exhibition at Port St Mary Town Hall to mark the 80th anniversary of the sinking of Mona's Queen, Fenella and King Orry at Dunkirk has been postponed. This was to be staged in late May/early June. For this exhibition we were working with Dr Michelle Haywood from Discover Diving and Port St Mary Commissioners. It is hoped to reschedule this for 2021.
The latest in our series of Winter Talks takes place on Monday, March 9th at the Erin Arts Centre, when Dr Fenella Bazin will compare Tynwald with the Icelandic Althing.
Tynwald was founded around half a century after the Althing and they had, and still have, much in common. But Fenella will also explore the intriguing story of where and why they differed.
Fenella has had a lifelong interest in all things Viking and Scandinavian and has worked alongside historians and archaeologists specialising in the field. Since retiring from the Centre for Manx Studies, she has given talks to groups on the Island and further afield, on land and sea.
Doors open at 7.00pm and Harry's Bar will be open for refreshments. Tickets for the talk cost £5 (or £4 for Friends of RHT) and are available from Erin Arts Centre, Bridge Bookshop and Erin News in Port Erin, and Calvert Newsagents in Port St Mary. If you can't make it to any of those outlets to pick up tickets, please email John at firstname.lastname@example.org nt.
Four of the volunteer authors involved with writing our latest book, Living with the Sea, will talk about the book at a special event on Sunday, 22nd December 2019 at the Manx Museum.
The authors speaking at the event are Nigel Crowe, Catherine Clucas, Professor Angela Little, and Staffan Overgaard. It gets underway at 2.30pm and is part of Manx National Heritage's Christmas at the Museum series - it is free to attend, just click HERE to book your seats.
Living with the Sea charts the history of Port St Mary and its people from 1829-1979. The book was launched in October and co-written by a team of 10 authors, all with a strong link to, and love of, Port St Mary. It tells a story with universal significance, demonstrating how independent-minded people in a small place lived with the sea, made a living from it, and rode its changing moods.
Copies of the book, priced at £18.95, will be availalble to buy after the event.
17th December 2019
Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who braved the awful weather on the night we launched our latest book - Living with the Sea: The fascinating history of Port St Mary and its people.
Around 120-130 people packed into Port St Mary Town Hall as we celebrated the publication of the book which charts the history of the Port from 1829-1979. More than 100 copies were sold on the night - our most successful launch! - and many people took the opportunity to buy copies of our previous books, including Friend or Foe? and A Year on Ballachurry Farm.
Living with the Sea was co-written by ten authors - Michael Kneale, Nigel Crowe, Catherine Clucas, Andrew D. Foxon, Angela W. Little, Hugh Davidson, Doreen Moule, Staffan Overgaard, John W Qualtrough and Pamela Crowe, with each focusing on specific topics.
Priced at £18.95, the book is available from all good Isle of Man bookshops and Manx National Heritage outlets. It is available online at Lily Publications and from this website.
18th November 2019
Living with the Sea, a new book telling the fascinating history of Port St Mary from 1829-1979, will be launched on Thursday, October 17th.
The book launch takes place at Port St Mary Town Hall, starting at 6.30pm and everyone is welcome to attend the free event.
Published by Rushen Heritage Trust, Living with the Sea has been co-written by 10 people, with each focusing on a specific aspect of the port’s history.
The authors are Michael Kneale, Nigel Crowe, Catherine Clucas, Dr Andrew D. Foxon, Professor Angela W. Little, Professor Hugh Davidson MBE, Doreen Moule, Staffan Overgaard, John W. Qualtrough and Pamela Crowe.
RHT Board member Staffan coordinated the team of writers. He said: ‘We set out to cover a period of history from when the Port relied entirely on fishing, shipbuilding and farming through to its tourism heyday which spanned the 1920s to the 1960s, culminating with the Millennium Year of 1979, by when tourism was in decline.
‘In addition to the Port’s maritime and tourism industries, the book delves into topics such as farming, religion, education, World War II internment, the changing shopfronts down the years, and how the landscape of the Port and its surrounds took shape.
‘It has been a privilege to be involved in researching and writing such an incredibly diverse and fascinating book, and to work with such a wonderful team of volunteer writers, each of whom spent long hours interviewing and researching their subjects.’
The book has been published with the kind financial support of Culture Vannin, Gough Ritchie Trust and the Trustees of Manx National Heritage.
Living with the Sea is priced at £18.95 and will be available from all Isle of Man bookshops and online at www.rushenheritage.org
To help the Trust gauge numbers and plan refreshments for the book launch, if you would like to attend, please contact Rushen Heritage Trust coordinator John Quirk at email@example.com or call/text him on 464634.
4th October 2019
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:
We would welcome volunteers who have skills in particular areas:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
17th September 2019
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 email email@example.com or calling 464634.
1 September 2019
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.
11 June 2019
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on 464634.
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.
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.
Rushen Heritage Trust is delighted to announce the winning entry for its 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
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
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
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 email@example.com and find out how you can be part of this special project.
- 1st April 2017
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
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
This spring, walkers all over Rushen will be snapping their favourite views as part of the Rushen Heritage Trust and Isle of Man Walks 2018 Calendar Competition!
All you have to do is download the free “iomWalks” app on your app store, take a walk along your chosen route from the app and when you get back home, send your favourite photo to us! All entries will then be displayed on the Isle of Man Walks website, where people can vote for their favourite image. The winner will receive £100 in gift vouchers of their choice and a copy of the calendar, on which their image will feature on the front page. Eleven runners up will also receive a free copy of the calendar.
Remember that images need to be in reasonably high resolution and in landscape format, and must be a view taken on one of the walks on the app. The competition is open to all ages and residents of the island. The deadline for entries is Monday 17th April 2017 and voting will take place between 21st April to 2nd May, with the winner announced on Monday 8th May 2017. Calendars will be available to buy from 22nd May and all proceeds will go to future RHT and Isle of Man Walks projects.
- 1st March 2017
Born in 1947 in a small mill town of West Yorkshire, David Clarke was about as far away from the sea as you can get. Little did he know then that he was destined to become a Captain in the Merchant Navy and would one day be telling his stories as part of a special evening in Port Erin.
“I was just 13 on holiday in the Isle of Wight when I was first seduced by the sea,” says David, who now lives in Port Erin. “We were on the ferry to Cowes, passing great transatlantic liners and cargo vessels in the Southampton Waters and the Solent and that’s what inspired the dream.”
David’s great marine adventure began when he was just 17 years old, where he joined the SS Cerinthus in Liverpool. So began his journey from ‘boyhood to manhood’ on his first trip of 8 months, travelling across the world from Africa and America all the way back to Heysham and the Manchester Ship Canal!
Joining Captain David in this fascinating evening of storytelling were Dessie Robinson, who spoke about the boom years of Herring Fishing, and Michelle Heywood who gave her talk on diving and the wrecks of the south of the island.
The event was held in the relaxed surroundings of the Falcon’s Nest in Port Erin and was crammed to the rafters as Alan Jackson compered the evening.
The Story of the Sea HAT hope to repeat the evening next year with more from Captain David who will move on to the next part of his tale, and invite some other speakers to join him.
- 7th October 2016
Isle of Man Walks is the innovative new mobile app created by the Story of the Land Heritage Action Team of Rushen Heritage Trust. Using cutting edge technology, the team are excited that this will open up new walking experiences for local residents and visitors to the island in a way that has never been done before! Earlier this year, the team created a walk along the Raad Ny Foillan coastal path from Port St Mary to the Sound and over the summer, invited Pilot Testers to take part in a testing scheme to help iron out any faults or bugs in the technology. Two more walks were then created in Port Erin and Port St Mary, using content from our recent Tourism exhibition "Southern Tourism Across the Decades" as well as input from our Story of the Land HAT. This weekend, team members officially launched the app at Bradda Glen Restaurant as part of Manx National Heritage Week. Despite the pouring rain over a hundred people turned up to meet Robbie Callister, five time winner of the Parish Walk, and to see demonstrations on how to use the app on their own walks. The app is now available to download on our sister website www.isleofmanwalks.com
- 3rd October 2016
Almost 200 people voted for their favourite entry in our 2017 Charity Calendar Competition this summer and out of the 22 stunning entries we received, we can announce that Rowanna Miller is the winner! “I chose the photograph for my entry for the Rushen Calendar Competition because it is the stunning view from my living room window,” says Rowanna. “Day or night it is a place of tranquillity.” Rowanna also chose the setting for her entry as a personal tribute to her friend Vivian Liff, who lived in the house before her. “Vivian is a very dear family friend who had this view for many, many years before me,” Rowanna continues. “Now, I feel privileged to share it with my own family. Aren’t we all so lucky to live on such a beautiful island!” Rowanna will receive £100 in M&S gift vouchers plus a copy of the calendar, where her entry features on the front page. Our eleven runners up will also have their entries featured in the calendar and will receive a copy each. The calendar will be available to buy for just £5 at both of our events this Autumn at the Bradda Glen Restaurant on the 1st October or at the Falcon’s Nest on the 6th October. All proceeds will be used for our 2017 programme, dedicated to telling more stories of Rushen and involving the community in new projects.
- 17th September 2016
Rushen Heritage Trust are excited to announce a new partnership with Pilgrimage Isle of Man – a walking trail group who will be using the Isle of Man Walks app to provide faith heritage walks across the island. The app was pre-launched over the summer with a heritage walk 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. Pilgrimage Isle of Man is a collaboration between the Cathedral IoM, Manx National Heritage, Praying the Keeills, and Manx born geographer, Dr. Avril Maddrell, from the University of West England. The initiative builds on the now well-established annual week of keeills walks and ideas discussed at the 2014 Diocesan Faith-based Tourism workshop. Following on from research on the Praying the Keeills walks on the island, Avril secured funding from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to work with the partner organisations to develop pilgrimage trails which explore the island’s faith heritage. The trails use existing footpaths and heritage sites, including the keeills, and the first two walking trails to be launched on September 10th will be the Triskelion Way Pilgrimage which links Rushen Abbey, St Germans and Maughold; and the Raad ny Foillan Pilgrimage which uses the coastal path to explore keeills and Manx crosses. Road routes are also being developed for those who prefer to cycle or drive. Historical information, prayers and reflections will be provided via the Pilgrimage IoM website and on the Isle of Man Walks App, as well as print copies.
- 8th September 2016
It was by pure chance that Pam Crowe from our WW2 Internment HAT found Professor Eva Rieger, and when she did, she came up with an entire weekend of special events for the community to enjoy based on women’s internment in Rushen during the Second World War and links to the composer, Richard Wagner.“I was researching the Methodist baptismal book of 1940/45 when I came across the name Rieger and I recognised it as one of the Lutheran Pastors’ names,” says Pam. “I searched for Eva Rieger online and found a Professor of Music in Lichtenstein – and it was Eva! She is a leading authority on Wagner and, following my invitation, came to Port Erin with her brother and friend Dagny, who is the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner. This weekend we have had a series of talks and other special at the Erin Arts Centre, the Methodist chapel where Eva was baptised in 1940.” The weekend of culture began on Friday evening with a re-enactment concert produced by John Bethell of the Erin Arts Centre, showcasing the talents of local singers Karen Johnson, Graham Crowe and John Elliot. On Saturday morning a special talk by Professor Chris Rieger held a captivated audience, as he gave his memories of his time in Port Erin as a six year old boy when his mother was interned. Members of our local community also shared their memories, giving a fascinating insight into life for children in Rushen and their friendships with the children that they were told were ‘the enemy’ but were in fact, just like them! On Saturday evening, Professor Eva Rieger and Wagner’s great-granddaughter Dagny shared their research and memories of Friedelind, following her life and career as she was interned on the Isle of Man and then the journey she took from there. Rushen Heritage Trust would like to especially thank Pam for her planning and organisation of such a wonderful event. We had special visitors all the way from New York and members of the Manchester Wagner Society join us for the events and the feedback we received was wonderful. Had it not been for Pam, and such hard work from the rest of the team, Rushen would have missed out on a fascinating weekend culture and some firm friendships that will remain for many years to come.
- 8th August 2016
Last night our WW2 Internment HAT launched our third exhibition of the summer with the help of Baroness Ruth Hennig and with a special visit from His Excellency Sir Richard Gozney and his wife, Lady Gozney. It was wonderful to see so many members of our local community join us to celebrate this significant event – sponsored by the Isle of Man Arts Council and Culture Vannin – which marks the second exhibition about the establishment of Rushen Camp W in May 1940 and the establishment of the unique married camp the following year. Rushen Camp differed in many ways from the male Camps in other parts of the Island. It was run by civilians not by the military. The exhibition has been developed entirely by volunteers from the WW2 Internment HAT (Heritage Action Team) at Rushen Heritage Trust. Two years ago the Team knew little about Rushen Internment but has since amassed considerable collective knowledge, from multiple resources at home and overseas. The Team describes itself as “a bunch of amateurs” but aims to achieve professional standards. It has done much original research and generated new material on WW2 Women’s Internment, previously an under-researched topic.
- 28th July 2016
When Captain of the Parish Stanley Clucas sat down to write about his family memories of life on Ballachurry farm, he had no idea that it would one day lead to those stories being in print and a whole exhibition dedicated to his memories. With a beautiful and diverse collection of photographs and illustrations, “A Year on Ballachurry Farm 1943-1944” perfectly captures the stories and memories of a traditional Manx farm during WW2. Meet the Boss and his wife “The Missus”, and the hard-working farmhands who keep the day-to-day workings of Ballachurry going, despite the demands of the war effort and the enigmatic new workers from nearby internment camps who are employed to help. From the milking and calving of cows to ploughing fields and stacking the hay, there’s not a dull moment on Ballachurry with the mischievous antics of the Boss and his workers! Both the book and exhibition have been sponsored by Culture Vannin and the Elizabeth Clucas Trust, with photographs taken from both the Clucas family album and local Rushen farmers as well as illustrations provided by John Hancox, a local Rushen artist famous for his TT drawings. Stanley writes with special affection and humour of farming through the changing seasons, illustrating the colour and rhythm of the busy farm that has been in his family for almost a hundred years.
- 11th July 2016
Looking back across the decades…
On Friday 27th May, the volunteers of our Tourism HAT launched our first exhibition of the year with “The Happy Days of Southern Tourism” at St Catherine’s Church Hall in Port Erin.
Attracting over 1,000 visitors in just 19 days, the exhibition looked at the memories and stories of tourism in Rushen from swimming at the Traie Meanagh Baths to golf at the Rowany, dancing at Bradda Glen and Collinson’s Café to tennis or bowls in Breagle Glen – showing just how much things have changed in the south since the late 1800s.
“The hey days of southern tourism may be a bygone era,” says Minister the Hon Laurence Skelly MHK, who opened the exhibition at our launch party, “but tourism is such a valuable part of our local economy. When you see the glens that the Victorians give us and the history and heritage that surrounds us – tourism is still here and the volunteers of Rushen Heritage Trust are keeping these stories alive through exhibitions such as this one.”
- 20th June 2016
One of the ways that Rushen Heritage Trust brings together the local community is through sharing memories across the generations of families who have lived in Rushen over the years.
On Thursday afternoon we were privileged to share an afternoon tea with some wonderful members of the community who were happy to tell some fascinating stories about their childhoods and memories of the past.
Do you have any memories that you would like to share? We’ll be holding more afternoon sessions in Port St Mary and Port Erin in the future but if you would like to meet with us and make sure your stories are never forgotten, please get in touch!
- 7th May 2016
Led by our WW2 Internment HAT, the festival will celebrate the life of Richard Wagner’s “rebellious” granddaughter Friedelind, who was interned in Port Erin in 1940. She was the only member of the Wagner family to be strongly anti-Nazi and her mother was a close friend of Hitler.
Friedelind Wagner despised her mother’s close liaison with Adolf Hitler and was the only member of the Wagner clan who fled Germany in protest. Although she was warned that the Nazis would ‘exterminate’ her if she continued her open opposition, she travelled to London and published articles pillorying the Nazi élite. Even so, in the eyes of the authorities, she was suspicious and they promptly interned her in Port Erin. Only with the help of the world-famous conductor Arturo Toscanini was she able to gain an exit visa to New York, where she broadcast, lectured and published against the Nazis, wrote an autobiography, and became friends with many other emigrants including singers who had themselves abandoned Bayreuth.
Prof. Eva Rieger published her acclaimed book about Friedelind Wagner in 2012 and is visiting Port Erin this summer as part of our festival. She is visiting Port Erin with her brother Dr Chris Rieger, who was six years old when he was in Port Erin and who hopes to meet up with the local boys he played with on the beach to swap memories.
- 12th April 2016
Our Story of the Sea Heritage Action Team are developing plans for their first event.
Chaired by Steve George – who is also one of RHT’s Board Directors – our Story of the Sea HAT are currently planning their first project.
The group are our fourth Heritage Action Team and hope to stage a series of talks related to the sea in 2016.
We’re always looking for new volunteers to join in with our projects but if you have a particular interest in our Story of the Sea HAT or you have any memories relating to the Story of the Sea which you would like to share, please come along to our next meeting at the Cherry Orchard in Port Erin on Monday 22nd February at 6pm.
- 9th February 2016
Manx recognition in the New Years Honours List
Rushen Heritage Trust is only one of the charities that Hugh and Sandra Davidson are actively involved with and they have been recognised in the 2015 New Years Honours list for their incredible work and contribution to the Manx Community.
Hugh’s MBE recognises his many charitable ventures both on and off the island including the H & S Davidson Trust, which has undertaken joint ventures with Save the Children to educate over 3,000 street children in Kolkata and with Oxfam to more than double the income and empowerment of 11,000 very poor women and their families in Odisha (India) and north Bangladesh.
Hugh has been the Vice President of Save the Children (IOM) since 2002, is a founder member and part funder of the One World Centre – aimed at raising awareness of larger global issues – and established the One World Charity Challenge. He is also involved with AXA IOM and Age Isle of Man in the inter-generational ‘Tell Me Project’, in which children record memories of older people to be preserved for future generations. Hugh and Sandra co-founded Rushen Heritage Trust, which was launched in July 2014. - 1st January 2016
The curators of Rushen Heritage Trust are our Heritage Action Teams (HATs) who work hard to research information, talk to people within the community and find ways to engage visitors to our exhibitions.
Responsible for their own exhibitions, publications and dissemination of content, the HATs choose their own topics, driven by community interest and focusing on people and their stories. In 2015 we saw over 4,000 visitors to our two major exhibitions “Friend or Foe” from the WW2 Internment HAT and “The Glory Days of Southern Tourism” created by the Tourism HAT. Both were extremely successful and will be continued in 2016 by two further exhibitions and short publications.
In 2016 our Story of the Land HAT will host their first exhibition based on the book “A Year on Ballachurry Farm 1943-44” written by Stanley Clucas, which will be available to buy next summer. They are also launching our interactive walking app “Isle of Man Walks” in late Spring. The Story of the Sea HAT will close the summer events with a series of talks and lectures – and don’t forget to look out for us at the Southern and Royal Agricultural fairs!
- 15th December 2015
Since Rushen Heritage Trust was formed in July 2014, we have had a very successful run of exhibitions and published our first book; all of which has inspired Martin Norbury to nominate us for the Isle of Man Newspapers’ Pride in Mann Awards, in the Manx Cultural Champion category.
Doreen Moule, chair of our WW2 Internment HAT says “We have enjoyed it very much, when we first started I was not sure where we were going, lots of people got involved. We are all really enthusiastic. It’s wonderful to have achieved so much in such a short space of time, I’m quite shocked!’ She added: ‘If it had not been for Hugh and Sandra Davidson and the rest of the board for setting the Trust up, we would have nothing. It was a brilliant idea, the south needed something.’
Pride in Mann is an awards scheme sponsored by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company that aims to recognise unsung heroes in the community.
- 7th September 2015
The Board of Rushen Heritage Trust has appointed Laura Cuthbertson as its new Heritage Coordinator. This is a part time role to provide cultural services and Laura is also an active published writer.
Hugh Davidson, Director of RHT commented: “We had a number of very strong candidates, but Laura met the specification most closely. She has a degree in Journalism, exceptional skills in social media and digital marketing, a very positive and enthusiastic approach, and much experience of working with schools. Laura also has wide experience in organizing UK national conferences, in training and communications, and in chairing meetings of people with a diverse range of skills."
While Laura is relatively new to the Isle of Man, she has a great interest in its heritage. Her partner is Manx, and has a long Manx family history in Rushen”.
Hon Juan Watterson MHK, Chair of RHT said: “Laura succeeds Graham Hall, who did an excellent job in starting up RHT, and remains an important volunteer. Her role will be to coordinate the activities of the five Heritage Action Teams (HATs), and the supporting specialists in IT, video/film and interviewing; to involve the whole Rushen community in some aspect of Heritage; to help communicate widely the excellent content developed by HATs, especially online and via social media; and to develop and help implement a Three Year Plan for RHT.”
- 30th August 2015
The Illustrated Roll Call book was published on 18th May 2015, and has sold as well as we had thought it would.
The book consists of a unique collection of Christmas greetings from 70 German/Austrian internees in Rushen Camp W, to their Manx landlady, Mrs Marjorie Creighton, together with a commentary which summarizes the background to internment and life at Camp W, and analyses the contents of the Greetings. These were in poetry form, and most were illustrated. All were written in the authors’ second language, and most of the writers were classified as domestic servants.
The quality, creativity, and range of the Greetings is astonishing. The original 40 pages of greetings belongs to Mrs Betty Kelly, who is the daughter of Marjorie Creighton.
Betty has been enormously helpful to RHT in lending us material, and giving us informative interviews/memories.
The book is available from the Bridge Bookshop in Port Erin, and the Lexicon in Douglas.
- 2nd August 2015
RHT’s interviewing team of Alan Jackson (former BBC, and lead performer on many local musical occasions), Beth Espey of Manx Radio and Drew Herdman (former Port Erin Beach photographer, and filming/video expert), with occasional help from Hugh Davidson has been hard at work. They have now completed over twenty interviews!
Recent interviews, all generating fascinating memories, have been with Joyce Corlett (wide range of memories); Chris and Joan Robertshaw about Chris’ father, Gil, well known Manager of the Belle Vue from 1968 to 1978 – Joan has an amazing story about the ghost in Room 99; Eileen Swales, daughter of Mr Scrimgeour, owner & managing Director of Perwick Bay Hotel from 1930 to 1945, who later helped build up Swales Flooring in Laxey, retiring at the age of 86, six years ago; and Lisa Walster, daughter of Ken & Margaret Ives, the last owners of the Perwick Bay Hotel (1978 – 88), widely and affectionately remembered.
Lisa Walster spoke of how her father Ken loved animals, and had a wide variety at the Perwick Bay, and that before coming to the Island in 1978, he and Margaret ran the Puffin Hotel in Anglesey where they had 24 peacocks. Ken investigated ways of bringing them over to the Island, but the IOM Steam Packet Co was unable to provide the necessary facilities for them.
Many thanks to Alan, Drew, and all our very interesting interviewees.
- 28th June 2015
Brian and Kathleen Trustrum are playing a leading role on the Tourism HAT, led by Chair Jonathan Latimer.
Brian’s grandfather owned the Falcon’s Nest for two decades at the end of the nineteenth century, and there is still a “Trustrum Suite”.
Brian and Kathleen have developed a fascinating display of the Falcon’s Nest, tracing changes in the place and its people since 1860, for the recent exhibition at Thie Rosien. Their work and example inspired all on the Tourism HAT, and, like the displays of the other four places, greatly interested local visitors to the exhibition.
Bob Potts, who has now owned and enhanced the hotel for many decades, gave us a lot of valuable help with memories, pictures, & information.
- 28th March 2015
The last time we asked John W Qualtrough how many local heritage pictures or written items he had, he said “115,000”.
Most but not all relate to Port St Mary. All are neatly arranged by topic in books and online, and many are on video.
The skills John developed over 40 years with T.H. Colebourn are much in evidence. At Mona’s 100th birthday party, John updated us. He now has 136,000 items, but the latest ones have not yet been fully itemised.
John has developed his collection over many decades, and knows almost everything about the history of Port St Mary. His astonishing knowledge and collection have been invaluable to RHT.
Thank you again, John.
- 26th March 2015