RHT News Archive

Save the Dates for our Pierrot Shows revival!

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

Get snapping for your chance to win £100 in gift vouchers!

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.   

To enter, please visit www.isleofmanwalks.com to upload your image or you can send it to rushenht@gmail.com

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

Full house for our first Story of the Sea talk!

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 launches successfully at Bradda Glen

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

Congratulations Rowanna - our 2017 Calendar Competition Winner!

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

New partnership for Isle of Man Walks and Rushen Heritage Trust

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

Wagner Festival is a great success and its all thanks to Pam!

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

RHT launches new WW2 Internment exhibition... Friend or Foe?

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

First book launch for Captain of the Parish Stanley Clucas

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

Another successful exhibition launch for RHT

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

Thank you for the memories!

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

Revealing plans for our Wagner and Internment Festival this summer

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 HAT is ready to set sail

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

Congratulations Hugh and Sandra!

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 

Over 4,000 visitors to our events in 2015

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

RHT nominated for IOM's "Pride in Mann" Awards

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

New coordinator joins RHT

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

Celebrating RHT's first book

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

Our interviewing team at work

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

The Trustrums and the Falcon's Nest

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

115,000 heritage items

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