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 Gráinne 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

Friday, November 7, 2014

Cathedral Isle of Man - Update from Val

Dear Kelly

The months have flown since the members of the NAMA visited us at the Cathedral on 4 July and we have carried out some repairs to the building and started landscaping some of the grounds.  We have also launched a new website www.cathedral.im

I have attached an update of the work that has been undertaken and a brief note about some of the plans for the future and it would be appreciated if you could share this with your members, either on your blog, website or mailing list.

With every good wish to you all.


Cathedral Isle of Man – the Island’s Cathedral – has launched a major campaign to develop the facilities on site for use not only of the worshipping community, but for the general public and visitors to the Island.  The vision to expand the Cathedral’s offering is complex, and will require £10 million of investment:

Worship Space: Re-ordering and upgrading the Cathedral interior to create a first-class venue for civic, cultural and social events, in addition to its primary purpose as a place of worship.

Music and Education: New music facilities, including a purpose-built Song School with teaching facilities for local educational projects, in addition to a new Pipe Organ will see the great choral music tradition flourish on the Island.

Cathedral Isle of Man during the
Flower Festival, and the NAMA visit.
Visitor Experience: A series of seventeen conceptual gardens will be developed within the grounds, (12 telling the story of our Island and how Christianity has engaged with it and 5 with special themes) through visual and interactive methods.  Teaching packs will be created to support curriculum education in the Island’s schools.

The 20th century garden, currently under construction, is particularly associated with internment during World War I.  (Just outside our City was the largest internment camp in the British Isles with 24,500 ‘enemy aliens’ living on 22 acres of land).  At the center of this garden we are commissioning a bronze sculpture (costing $55,000) that commemorates two global figures, both associated with the camp and both connected with the United States.  Archibald Knox was a censor and made his reputation as a designer for Liberty of London and Josef Pilates was an internee and inventor of an exercise system which had its birth in the confines of internment.  Knox, tried to make a life for himself in the United States, but it didn’t work out and you might be aware that Brad Pitt is an avid collector of Knox’s Celtic-art-nouveau designs and his son is named after Knox.  Josef Pilates on the other hand migrated to New York in 1926 and became a United States citizen.

The 9 feet high sculptural design by Angela Patchett takes its inspiration from a Pilates movement and Archibald Knox’s Celtic-Art-Nouveau style (see picture at bottom of article).

Community Engagement: A refurbishment of the current Hall will provide community leisure facilities and will support community development through the creation of a Lychgate, opening up the Cathedral’s entrance and doubling up as the City’s bus terminus.

Endowment: A significant endowment fund will be built to ensure the Cathedral’s on-going structural health, in addition to choral musical provision for future generations.

Further details of each of the project areas can be found on the Cathedral’s new website www.cathedral.im

The Dean, the Very Revd Nigel Godfrey, and his team are delighted with progress to date, and with HRH The Princess Royal as their Patron, the Cathedral has already raised over £1 million.  This has enabled development work to begin on various areas, updates of which can be seen on the website.

The Cathedral is now looking to reach out to supporters across the world, as well as on the Isle of Man, and would welcome communication from friends in the North American Manx Association.  

The Campaign Manager Val Garrett can be contacted via campaign@cathedral.im or +44 (0)1624 844830 to discuss the projects and how to donate, including naming recognition for particularly generous gifts.  Those wanting to make a gift in the US can do so tax effectively through Cathedral Isle of Man’s partner Cathedral in San Diego, the details are as follows:  Cathedral Church of Saint Paul, 2728 Sixth Avenue, San Diego, CA 92103.  Contributions should be clearly designated as being for Cathedral Isle of Man.  For further information re giving via the Cathedral Church of St Paul please contact Erin Sacco Pineda (pinedaes@stpaulcathedral.org) or Christine Spalding (spaldingc@stpaulcathedral.org, 619-298-7261).

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Latest Phase of Works to Commence at the Nautical Museum

As many NAMA members visited the Peggy in her Castletown home, I'm sure you'll be interested to learn about the next round of preservation. 

Manx National Heritage is embarking on the latest phase of its project to preserve the home of Castletown’s 18thCentury armed yacht, Peggy.

For more than 200 years, the Nautical Museum has been home to Peggy, which was built by Captain George Quayle of Castletown and is one of three similar vessels owned by the family between 1789 and 1815.  Peggy is listed on the National Historic Ships Register, is the oldest yacht in the world and is one of the most significant items in the Manx National Heritage Collections. 

Extensive conservation works have already been carried out to Peggy and archaeological investigations completed in the boatyard, yielding new information on the Peggy story.  

This week, a new phase of works will commence at the Nautical Museum, which will see items from the Manx National Heritage collections removed from the museum and rehoused for conservation or redisplay.

To enable works to be completed, the building façade will be temporarily removed, allowing for the safe relocation of historic artefacts including the tender of the small fishing vessel or ‘nickey’ Bonnie Lass, which will undergo research and conservation alongside Peggy.  Other historic objects including the net making machine will be dismantled by a team of specialist volunteers and redisplayed at the House of Manannan in Peel.  

This phase of works will be followed by the temporary removal of the Peggy, which will rehoused in a specialist building, with the departure of the vessel now scheduled to take place over the winter months. 

Work will also commence on the preparation of new visitor interpretation and displays within the Nautical Museum, showcasing previously unseen objects uncovered in the recent archaeological excavations, which will be revealed when the newly refreshed museum reopens to the public on Saturday 30 May 2015. 


For further information, please contact:

Lynsey Clague
Communications Manager

Manx National Heritage, Eiraght Ashoonagh Vannin
Manx Museum, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 3LY
t: +44 (0) 1624 648032