Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Crucial maintenance begins at The Great Laxey Wheel

A crucial maintenance programme has begun at the world’s largest working waterwheel, The Great Laxey Wheel.

Designed by the Victorian engineer, Robert Casement, the wheel was completed in 1854 to pump water from the depths of the Laxey mines using water from Glen Mooar to power the wheel. The impressive 22m (72.5 feet) diameter structure found immediate popularity and has remained one of the Island’s most iconic and dramatic tourist attractions for over 150 years.

The famous waterwheel, Lady Isabella was last repainted between winter 2003 and spring 2004 in time for her 150thanniversary celebrations. As part of her planned cyclical maintenance programme, she has recently been clad with scaffolding in preparation for the next programme of repairs and redecoration, commencing this week and throughout the winter period.
In 2013, priority preservation work was completed on the T-Rocker, which once helped prevent flooding to the Great Laxey Mine by pumping water from the mine. Works involved strengthening the main timber beams of the T-Rocker, which are some of the last remaining original timber elements of the Great Laxey Mine.
In preparation for the next phase of works, surveys have been completed to reveal the full extent of repairs required to the historic structure. The surveys revealed that work was needed on the stone masonry on the wheel housing, together with timber repairs to both the cladding and the wheel structure.

Initial works will involve cleaning the waterwheel, followed by removal of vegetation and fungicidal treatment to both woodwork and masonry. A complex tank structure will be built below the waterwheel to prevent biocides washing into the river. Old render which has suffered decay caused by natural weathering will be replaced, and then the wheel, housing, risers and viewing platform will be re-painted. 

Edmund Southworth, Director of Manx National Heritage said:
"This major project will help insure the integrity of the Laxey Wheel as a national landmark for future generations to enjoy and demonstrates Manx National Heritage’s commitment to the ongoing preservation of the Lady Isabella as one of the Isle of Man’s most iconic historic monuments”. 

Works will be completed by a local team of contractors, employing workmen from across the Isle of Man including tradesmen resident in both Laxey Village and neighbouring Lonan.  

The wheel was constructed to the design of local engineer Robert Casement, a self-trained millwright. Most of the iron castings were made by Gelling’s Foundry in Douglas, with only the largest piece, the hub, being made off-Island at the Mersey Ironworks. The pieces were then assembled on site. As well as being a functional item, the wheel was to some extent a vanity project for the director of the mines, George Dumbell, who wanted the Lady Isabella to be seen as a symbol of his prestige. The wheel ensured the profitability of the mine for another thirty or so years, providing employment and wages for many families in Laxey and Lonan.

The preservation of the waterwheel is one of several projects currently being undertaken by Manx National Heritage with works also taking place at the Grove Museum in Ramsey to repair its 150 year old roof and the Nautical Museum in Castletown, with plans to rehouse, conserve and study the Peggy. 

Editor’s Notes
The Great Laxey Lead and Zinc mine was once the foremost metalliferous mine in the British Isles, with an output of Zinc blende that on occasion exceeded the combined total output of all other Zinc Mines in the British Isles. The mines closed in 1929, although the continued potential of the Lady Isabella as a tourist attraction was recognised by local man and entrepreneur, Edwin Kneale, who first leased then in 1937 bought it. The wheel was later acquired by Isle of Man Government and came into the care of Manx National Heritage in 1989. 

Exploring Early Celtic Art

Mayer Mirror, image courtesy of
the World Museum,
National Museums Liverpool. 
 Former British Museum curator Dr Jody Joy comes to the Isle of Man this week to tell the story of ‘Early Celtic Art’. He explores the subject from its early beginnings to its influence around the world at the Manx Museum on Friday 28th November at 7.30pm.

Dr Jody Joy says;
“Celtic art was first made around 460 BC in Northeast France and Southwest Germany and draws on artistic influences from as far afield as Greece, Egypt and even Persia. From these very small beginnings, the art then spread rapidly and was used to decorate objects from as far west as Ireland to Romania in the east and the Iberian Peninsula in the south.”

Jody will tell the story of Celtic art until it changed irrevocably with the coming of Rome and he will address questions such as who made it and what was it made for?  

Page from The Deer’s Cry by Archibald Knox.
Dr Jody Joy is now Senior Curator (Archaeology) at Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge with responsibility for British and European Archaeology. He specialises in the archaeology of northwest Europe during the first millennium BC but his research interests also include the later Bronze Age and early Roman periods. His main interests concern art and technology and he is currently involved in research projects examining the technology of Iron Age cauldrons and their role as feasting vessels and Iron Age torcs and their relationship with the human body.

The lectures are in collaboration with Celtic Style exhibition on display at the House of Manannan celebrating 150 years since the birth of internationally renowned designer Archibald Knox. The exhibition explores Celtic style from pre-history to modern day, beginning with the 2000 year old Mayer Mirror.

Jody’s lecture will explore the context of this beautifully designed mirror among other examples and the roots of this exquisite design style still used by so many modern day designers. Tickets for Early Celtic Art are £10 available from the Manx Museum Gallery Shop and www.manxnationalheritage.im. A 10% discount is available to Members of the Friends of Manx National Heritage.

The following day, on Saturday 29th November, MNH curator Yvonne Creswell presents an afternoon lecture ‘Archibald Knox and The Deer’s Cry’ as part of a Manx Museum Christmas lecture series. The talk begins at 2pm. Tickets are £6 Adults, £3 Student/ Child from the Manx Museum Gallery Shop and www.manxnationalheritage.im

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kids Takeover the Manx Museum

If you visit the Manx Museum on Friday 21 November, you’re in for a big surprise! Pupils from Year 5/6 at St Thomas’ Church of England Primary School have been trained to take over the running of the Museum from 1pm - 3pm as part of ‘Kids Takeover Day’.

They will be welcoming visitors at the Museum reception, answering enquiries, working with artefacts, monitoring the environmental conditions of the Museum’s stores, leading gallery tours and even liaising with the media to ensure the entire day is a great success. The children will also be engaging visitors with some museum theatre, performing their own First World War play ‘Our Way to Victory’ in the Museum galleries at 3pm.

‘Kids Takeover Day’ is an annual event where museums across Britain are taken over by children and teenagers. The national initiative is organised by independent charity Kids in Museums who aim to help place children and teenagers at the heart of the museums.

Year 6 pupil Frankie Cullen will be Assistant Director for part of the day, she commented:
I’m so excited about taking over the Museum!  I cannot wait to be running the Museum and giving tours in the galleries.”

Classmates Charlotte Derbyshire and Alexander Shirtliff added:
We’re all really excited about Kids Takeover Day because it will be so much fun and the Museum is full of history, it will be really cool to perform our play in the galleries as well. We’re all a bit nervous though!
All fifteen class pupils have been working with Manx National Heritage’s Community Engagement Officer, Katie King, for the past eight weeks so that they know how to undertake their job roles for the day. Katie King explained further:
We are passionate about engaging young people in the work we do at Manx National Heritage. This will be the third year we have participated in Kids Takeover Day. The pupils have had some excellent ideas for making the day exciting for visitors and for making the Museum more child-friendly in general. The MNH team have been training our new young staff to manage the gallery floors, be courteous to visitors, and to ensure the security of our artefacts. We are all looking forward to the day, and hope as many people as possible will come and enjoy the children’s hard work.”
St Thomas’ Year 5/6 class teacher Laura O’Grady went on to say:
The children are very excited and enthusiastic about the day and it will certainly be a challenging experience for them. I am hoping this opportunity will give the children a memorable experience that will develop their communication and team work skills, and give them confidence in their own abilities – it will be a lot of fun as well!”
‘Kids Takeover Day’ takes place at the Manx Museum on Friday 21 November and admission is free. To enjoy pupil led gallery tours please visit between 1pm – 2:30pm, and to see the play ‘Our Way to Victory’ please arrive at 3pm.

Monday, November 17, 2014

50 years of commercial radio - and pirates!

Caroline on the dial for Island radio fans

by Manx Radio
Caroline on the dial for Island radio fansBroadcasting history will be made this week in a unique collaboration between Manx Radio and Radio Caroline.
The pioneers of commercial radio in the British Isles both celebrate half a century on air this year.
Listeners can hear special Radio Caroline programmes each evening in place of our Greatest Hits show from 6.30pm tonight (Tuesday). 
Overnight you can listen to Car
oline's output from under the bed covers on Manx Radio AM 1368, from midnight until 6am! 
Caroline's floating base - the MV Ross Revenge - is currently anchored in the River Blackwater in Essex.  
The link-up marks the arrival of pirate station Radio Caroline North in 1964, in Ramsey Bay. Presenter Steve Silby says it's an exciting project: Clip 1

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Rare Opportunity to Hear Norwegian-Manx Music Collaboration at the Centenary Centre in Peel

Historical links between Norway and the Isle of Man have been well documented by historians and scholars for centuries, but during November there'll be an opportunity to learn more about an exciting music collaboration between the two countries; with school visits, workshops and a concert at the Centenary Centre in Peel.

This ground-breaking alliance, which is a Culture Vannin project, brings together some of the Island's best known traditional musicians (Tomas Callister, Ruth Keggin and David Kilgallon) and their two Norwegian counterparts, Erlend Apneseth and Margit Myhr, to create an inspiring and powerful performance.

The project, initiated in February 2013, aims to celebrate the shared cultural heritage of both countries in a vibrant, meaningful and creative way, with a visit by local fiddle player, Tom Callister, and Manx Gaelic singer, Ruth Keggin, to Western Norway to work with Hardanger fiddle player Erlend Apneseth and Norwegian vocalist Margit Myhr.

It was a rich and productive partnership which later shifted to the Isle of Man, culminating in a sell-out concert at the Erin Arts Centre, where they were joined by multi-instrumentalist David Kilgallon.

Following a number of positive reviews, the group headed to Brittany earlier this year to perform at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient.

Each musician and singer comes with an impressive catalogue of credentials. Erlend, who recently won the Grappa Debutante award, is one of the top young Hardanger fiddle players in Norway, and Margit, who is a multi-talented performer, also sings in her band Firil.

Closer to home, all of the Manx performers have been pushing the boundaries of traditional music in recent years and introducing local music to new audiences across the world, using a cross-section of skills and musical talent.

Hot on the heels of their sensational performance on the Isle of Man last year, Culture Vannin will be bringing the Norwegian-Manx Collaboration back together for another visit to the Island this month, including an educational tour of Manx schools, in conjunction with the Department of Education and Children.

But there's also a unique opportunity to see the group live at the Centenary Centre in Peel, where they will be joined by Manx dancers GrĂ¡inne Joughin and John Kilgallon and one of Norway's top traditional male dancers; the inspirational and dexterous Vetle Springgard.

Starting at 8.00pm on Saturday 29th November, tickets are available in advance (priced at £10) from Celtic Gold, Shakti Man, Thompson Travel and Peter Norris Music, or £12 on the door.

And for those who would like to learn a little more about Norwegian song, fiddle music and dance, there'll be a series of workshops  on the following day at the Philip Christian Centre, also in Peel. Priced at just £4 each, further information and booking advice is available from manxmusic@culturevannin.im.

Valerie Caine
© November 2014

Photo courtesy of Phil Kneen

(Courtesy of Manx Tails)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another London airport added to schedule for 2015

Flybe has announced it will operate a new service between the Isle of Man's Ronaldsway airport and London Stansted in 2015.
The Exeter-based airline said it will operate "up to three times a day" from 15 March.
Flybe's chief commercial officer Paul Simmons said bolstering regional connectivity is their number one aim. 
The company also announced extra flights from Stansted to Newcastle and Newquay. 
A spokeswoman for the Isle of Man airport said it was "good news for Manx passengers".

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

At the going down of the sun, we shall remember them

Lieutenant Governor Adam WoodLieutenant Governor Adam Wood laid a wreath

More than 100 people gathered at the War Memorial in Douglas to pay their respects on Armistice Day.
A two-minute silence was observed by veterans, local dignitaries and members of the public.
In strong winds and against a backdrop of crashing waves, wreaths were laid at the foot of the memorial on Douglas promenade.
Among those to pay their respects were the Mayor of Douglas Stan Cain and Lieutenant Governor Adam Wood.
Armistice Day is observed on the 11th day of the 11th month each year to mark the anniversary of when World War One ended in 1918.
It is also used to remember all of those who have died in conflicts ever since.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, 70 years since the D-Day landings, and the end of the UK's combat operations in Afghanistan. 
After World War Two, memorials were adapted to honour the fallen of both World Wars, and Remembrance Sunday was established alongside Armistice Day.
From 1995, the British Legion campaigned successfully to restore the two-minute silence to 11 November as well as Remembrance Sunday.

More at the BBC Ellan Vannin