Monday, February 1, 2010

Peel Heritage Trust Talk – Peel Architecture by Patricia Tutt


Patricia Tutt’s talk, punctuated by a selection of her own photographs, attracted a capacity audience to the Centenary Centre in Peel where she described her view of the town through the eyes of an architect.
Commenting on how the town has grown organically, a fascinated audience was shown old maps of the area and invited to study the structure of the town a little more closely. 
The majority of her talk centred on the old part of Peel showing a variety of properties indicative of both prosperity and versatility.
Patricia invited us to study the idiosyncrasies of these buildings and to perhaps occasionally raise our heads to see the wonderful architecture above the ground floor, citing Michael Street as a particularly good example.
Inevitably some of the building styles adopted over the years have been totally inappropriate and unsympathetic to their surroundings. Recent new building on the outskirts of town reflects these changes quite forcibly and could, in her estimation, be anywhere.  Colour has also played an important part in defining Peel ranging from the garish to the more subtle shades of the spectrum.
An intimate town with properties grouped closely together cheek by jowl the older part of town has little in the way of green areas, but this is counterbalanced somewhat by easy access to the picturesque shore and active harbour. Patricia suggested that the town is defined by its landmarks; St. Peter’s Church tower, St. German’s Cathedral, Corrin’s Tower and latterly the rather ugly power station chimney.
Visitors are usually drawn to the town by its distinctive character and this included the celebrated novelist Hall Caine and the artist and designer Archibald Knox.
 But I was unaware that Peel had also attracted the attention of High Bailiff Moore for another reason. The residents of Peel were in the habit of using a variety of names for their streets and lanes, and in 1874 the High Bailiff decreed that street naming should be standardised, removing any doubt or confusion!
Other plans for restoration in the town never actually got off the drawing board, with grandiose schemes planned for the ruins on St. Patrick’s Isle in the nineteenth century and regeneration of the town on a Mediterranean theme from the 1970s.  Recent plans for regeneration of the town by Peel Commissioners submitted for the Isle of Man Government’s Town and Village Regeneration Scheme (available to view on their website) were displayed to a packed auditorium, and left many people who were unaware of what was proposed to wonder what the future held for this charming little port in the next few years.


Valerie Caine © January 2010



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