Monday, August 18, 2014

The Green Fields of France

Presented as a 'docu-musical tribute', The Green Fields of France was the brainchild of Bill Quine under the umbrella of Peel Heritage Trust, organised to coincide with the centenary commemorations of World War I.

Held over two nights at the Centenary Centre in Peel, it expressed a wide range of emotions; viewing life from the perspective of both those heading for the battlefields and others left behind.

Using music, song and dialogue, the stage production conveyed the true experiences of a small group of Manx soldiers at the Battle of the Somme, using dramatic sound and visual effects to enhance the experience.

Most of the cast took on the persona of someone from the Isle of Man to relate their tale, rather than convey the story of a melded, fictitious character, which made the event more poignant.

Although dedicated to all those who went to fight from the Isle of Man, and indeed to those who belong to the services today, the drama concentrated on the lives of four local men; John T. Quine DCM, John McCauley, Jack Lewney and John Callister.

Other actors explored the lives of those who remained on the Island, including Louisa Quine (wife of John Quine), singing sweetheart Margaret Gelling (grandmother of Arthur Christian - see below), paperboy Alec Maddrell and Peel Clothworkers' School pupil Becky Quayle, who later became a member of  Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service.  

Narrator for the event was a suitably attired James Mylchreest (grandson of the late Brian Mylchreest LVO, OBE, TD, JP and Colonel in Chief of the Manx Regiment) who helped bring the sequence of events to life with a number of local actors, singers and musicians.

Music was provided by violinist Isla Callister, trumpeter Arthur Christian and piper John Struthers from the Ellan Vannin Pipe Band, with some morale boosting songs of the era sung with gusto by a specially organised choir directed by John Elliott.

A commemorative programme explored other links to The Great War and included a Peel Roll of Honour within its centre pages.

Valerie Caine
© August 2014

Conference promises to shed new light on First World War internmen

Rush for dinner at Knockaloe Internment Camp by German Internee, George Kenner.

A special conference organised by the Manx Museum and De Montfort University takes place next month on the subject of First World War internment on the Isle of Man. Marking the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first German and Austrian civilian prisoners on the Isle of Man in September 1914, the proceedings get underway on Friday 12 September with a public lecture at the Manx Museum by Profession Panikos Panayi, on Knockaloe as a site of imperial internment.

Professor Panayi of De Montfort University has spent many years studying internment and has published widely on the impact of the First World War on German communities in Britain prior to 1914. His latest release, Germans as Minorities during the First World War, was published in July 2014 by Ashgate publishing.

The following day, Saturday 13 September will see a number of academics from Britain, Germany and America gather to present their research into internment in the First World War. Sessions are open to members of the public with an interest in this subject. Finally on Sunday 14th September a tour of the site of Knockaloe Camp will take place, led by Yvonne Cresswell of Manx National Heritage.

MNH Curator Matthew Richardson commented:

“This promises to be a fascinating conference, on one of the lesser known aspects of the First World War. The role of the Isle of Man as an internment centre is one that we are still unravelling almost 100 years later, and new and revealing pieces of information continue to come to light, telling us more about what life was like in the camps of Douglas and Knockaloe for the Germans, Austrians and Turks held here”.

Matthew added:

“We are enormously proud at Manx National Heritage to be hosting the distinguished team of scholars which Professor Panayi has brought together. This is a really unique opportunity for people of the Isle of Man to hear and interact with some of the leading researchers in this field”.  

Full details of the conference programme and how to book can be found on

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Island in the Great War - Try it.

  1. Threshing with steam at Larkhill Farm, Abbeylands, Onchan in 1917; a Clayton Shuttleworth threshing engine (PG 8063/7)

On Sunday 17th August Cregneash will be taking visitors back 100 years to experience what life was like for the Manx people during the First World War. The event is part of the annual action-packed Island at War weekend on the Isle of Man Steam Railway, where the popular 1940s wartime events will centre around Douglas, Castletown and Port Erin stations. On the Sunday visitors can take bus service number 28 from the events at Port Erin to Cregneash to experience life 30 years earlier.

Helen Ashcroft, Site Manager at Cregneash says;
“To mark the centenary year, and as part of our efforts to tell the Island’s First World War story, we thought this year was a great opportunity to highlight the stories of the farming and fishing community caught up in the national struggle.

The event will have a very different feel to our Second World War events from previous years, and we hope we can encourage visitors to see how this momentous event impacted the Isle of Man”.

Manx agriculture flourished during the war and all surplus produce and livestock were exported to England. Internees were made to work on the farm. And later conscription affected the farming community although appeals were made for skilled workers such as blacksmiths to receive exemption.

In a letter from 1916 John Kermode, President of the Farmer’s Club on the Isle of Man wrote:
‘..young blacksmiths in the Island would do much towards the achievement of victory in their present occupations than if sent to the army, because farmers cannot do their work unless their implements and machines are kept in repair.’
As part of the event, Labyrinth History in Action players will bring these and other First World War stories to life on a walking theatre tour around the village. Tours depart 12:30, 14:30 and 16:30 and are bookable on arrival at Cregneash.

Isle of Man Cadets, 1st Arbory Scouts and Castletown Metropolitan Band will lead a recruitment parade march through the village at 13:30 and 15:30, and the call for volunteers will go out as it would have done in 1914.

Admission tickets are £6 adults, £3 students/ child and can be purchased in advance from the Manx Museum Gallery Shop and They will also be available at Port Erin Bridson Street and Cregneash on the day of the event. The ticket includes the theatre tours and a free return journey on service bus number 28, departing from Port Erin Bridson Street at 12:00, 13:00, 14:20, 15:00 and 16:00.

If visitors have a particular interest in the war at sea, Adrian Corkhill, author of the book “Hostile Sea” will lead a walk on the story of the German U-Boat offensive around the Isle of Man during the First World War. Participants will be guidedaround the coastline near Cregneash and learn about the drama of events 100 years ago when German U-Boats attacked and sank ships within sight of the Isle of Man’s southern coastline. The walk covers the sinking of the SS Downshire in February 1915, HMS Champagne and HMT Waltham in October 1917, and the schooner Tommi in May 1918.
Adrian will lead the walk ‘Hostile Sea – A View from the Coast’ on Saturday 16th or Sunday 17th August at 10:30. Tickets are £6 available from the Manx Museum Gallery Shop and

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Manx cheese flying high on Emirates Airlines

Isle of Man Creamery is flying high after one of its premium cheeses was selected for high-end airline passengers. The Creamery's Vintage Cheddar is appearing on a select British cheese board served to business and first-class passengers on Emirates Airlines flights. 

The inclusion of a Manx cheese is the result of the company's sales partnership with UK-based cheese distributor Bradbury and Son.

The firm, which markets continental and artisanal British cheeses, will create the offering of four dairy delicacies at its Buxton site.
The board will be served on every Emirates flight departing the UK during August and September along with a specially commissioned tasting guide, describing the cheeses' characteristics and provenance.

Isle of Man Creamery Managing Director Findlay Macleod said: "Emirates have searched the market to bring together a cheese selection suitable for a crucial passenger category. They know that this type of consumer enjoys new eating experiences and learning the story behind the products."
He went on: "As an added bonus, it may be an unusual way for the Isle of Man to come to the attention of high net worth individuals!”

North American Manx Association Followers on Facebook will recall our recent 'sightings from Trader Joe's' when this was the Spotlight cheese.  Texas, Virginia, Florida and Illinois all claimed to have it!

Monday, August 11, 2014

World War I - The Isle of Man Post Office commemorates

This specially-struck medallion commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of World War 1, and pays tribute to all the Manx men and women involved in the conflict and affected by the events which took place between 1914 and 1918. It is limited to just 750 pieces and is sure to be a highly prized collectable, as well as a fitting commemoration of this anniversary. The medallion is struck in zinc alloy and plated in a silver-coloured nickel which showcases the outstanding embossed designs on both sides. Measuring 40mm in diameter, it is available in a velvet pouch or presented in a special case. It's just 12.50

There's more info about the World War I commemorative pieces here:

To commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, Isle of Man Post Office commissioned a very special collection of stamps remembering the people who lived through 'the war to end all wars'.

Evocative photos from the First World War and the familiar red poppy adorn this important set of six stamps marking 100 years since the outbreak of the 'Great War', and remembering the human cost of the conflict.


Friday, August 8, 2014

S'mie lhiam bluckan-coshey, as ta shoh yndyssagh!

The Isle of Man has been chosen as the hosts for the ConIFA Euros 2015 between the 13th and 21st June. We can assure ConIFA that the people of the Isle of Man will provide all the competing International Teams, their Management, Supporters, International Media and of course ConIFA itself with not just a fantastic football tournament but a cultural and heritage experience that will enrich the lives and memories of those in the ConIFA family all promoted through the warmth and generous spirit of the Manx Nation.
Gura mie ayd ConIFA.

See more in this interview. ConIFA Euro 2015 | MT TV | iom news on demand

Dark Thoughts – A Journey through the Victorian Imagination at The Grove Museum

A collection of work by artist Peter Davies inspired by the art of Victorian storytelling will be exhibited at The Grove Museum in Ramsey on 24 August – 4 September 2014. The collection of intriguing images inspired by Victorian illustration and architecture will be creatively exhibited amongst the collections, rooms and outbuildings.

Peter Davies is fascinated by visual images of the nineteenth century and the narrative and architecture of this time is reflected in his collages, drawings and paintings. Some of his pieces are small scale while other sizeable ones will be assembled to form very large panels each measuring several square metres.

Peter explains his inspiration for ‘Dark Thoughts’:
The pictures and paraphernalia to be displayed at the Grove have been produced over a period of forty years – and were inspired by a bound collection of the Victorian weekly journal ‘The Graphic’.  The book had lost its covers and was shedding its stitching, but the quality of the drawings and the craftsmanship in the wood-engraved illustrations were so high I put these images to one side to examine closely. 

The engraved drawings reveal much about Victorian life and times. In theatrical settings with dramatic poses and gestural body language, the images reveal how people looked and interacted 150 years ago. Because the collaged images held this spell for me I decided to translate the small black and white images into much larger scale colour studies. The result is a collection of stand-alone images, which are put together to form a series of very large single compositions.

Much of the work on show has not been previously exhibited and I believe that the imaginative proposal from Manx National Heritage to exhibit the work amid the Grove’s permanent collection is inspired. The pictures will have a powerful impact when installed throughout the Victorian house and its outbuildings.’ 

Katie King, Community Engagement Officer for Manx National Heritage added:
Peter approached us earlier this year through our new ‘You Exhibit – Community Exhibition’ proposal scheme. We were delighted when he agreed to exhibit his impressive artwork within the setting of the Grove Museum – certainly an unusual exhibition space. The idea of exploring the Victorian imagination and imagery was intriguing, and we will be encouraging visitors to spot Peter’s artworks amongst The Grove’s collections.

During the installation period we will be asking visitors to the Grove to compose their own Gothic tales to accompany the art, as well as attend storytelling sessions and an opportunity for younger visitors to create their own small-scale decoupage artworks.’

The installation has been timed to coincide with the last two weeks of the Grove’s 2014 opening, as the building is due to close early this year in order for emergency conservation works to be undertaken.

Katie explains:
Anyone who lives in a Victorian house will understand some of the difficulties which maintenance presents. Here at the Grove, the fabric of the roof is now around 170 years old and is beginning to fail. The Grove will close in early September to enable works to take place on the roof, and in the meantime we have taken steps to remove some of the most vulnerable original items from the house to temporary storage, in order to protect them from damage by water ingress. We hope our ‘Dark Thoughts’ installation will give the Grove a sympathetic boost before restoration work commences, and that our visitors will be taken on a journey of the imagination.

To launch the installation Manx Macabre Tours will be leading a Manx Victorian ghost story tour around the Grove Museum and grounds on Sunday 24th August at 8pm. On Thursday 28th August the Family Library will be delivering a Victorian storytelling session at the Grove for families at 2pm.

Dark Thoughts – A Journey through the Victorian Imagination’ will be on display at The Grove Museum, Ramsey from 24 August – 4 September. Standard admission applies, free entry to ACE cardholders kindly supported by Lloyds Bank. For more details about the activities to coincide with the installation please see
Editor Notes:
Peter Davies Biography

Peter Davies was born in Moreton on the Wirral peninsula and studied painting at Wallasey School of Art, later gaining art education qualifications at Birmingham College of Art and Birmingham University.

Throughout a subsequent career in art education, latterly as Principal of Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design, Peter continued to produce his own work.

He has exhibited internationally and received a prestigious gold award from the Association of Illustrators. He moved to the Island in April 2013 and lives in Ramsey.