Greeba Castle, Isle of Man

Greeba Castle, Peel Road
Postmarked 1906
Publisher: “A. H. & S. M.”

Google Maps.

At the base of Greeba Mountain and the Kings Forest, or Greeba Plantation, there are two Victorian castellated residences built in 1849 in an elevated position in the Gothic style, on the site of a property that had been known as Booilrenny (perhaps boayl rennee, “place of the fern”). These houses, Greeba Towers and Greeba Castle, were designed by John Robinson of Douglas, a self-taught architect who designed many properties in the town of Douglas including the Bank of Mona (now the Tynwald Building), the Falcon Cliff, Douglas Head Hotel and the Derby Castle, all in a castellated style with Gothic influence. The house was originally built for William Nowell, but it was later bought by Edward Windus, the son of a partner of the publisher, Chatto & Windus. The Victorian novelist Hall Caine moved to the Isle of Man in 1894 and rented Greeba Castle for a six-month period before residing briefly in Peel. Caine bought the house, in a poor state of repair, in 1896. He lived there until his death in 1931, and it was partly remodelled during that time. According to a folk tale, the owner of Greeba Castle lost the property in a game of cards but built Greeba Towers in front of his former property to block the view of the new owner.

The name Greeba is derived from the Scandinavian word “Gnipa” meaning “peak”. This 56 hectare plantation lies on the south east slopes of Greeba Mountain. . . . At the foot of Greeba plantation, on the TT course, is Greeba Towers and Greeba Castle. This was once the home of Sir Hall Caine, the famous Victorian novelist. The Castle and Towers were built at the beginning of the 19th century by William Norwell on the site of a property which had been known as Booilrenny. After selling the Castle in 1854 for £825, Norwell moved into the Towers. The Castle was used as both a hotel and a boarding school for boys. It was bought by Hall Caine in 1898.
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Villa Marina, Isle of Man

Villa Marina, Royal Hall and Gardens
Postmarked 1947
Publisher: Punch Bowl Press

Google Street View (approximate).

The Villa Marina is an entertainment venue in Douglas, Isle of Man, which forms part of the wider Villa-Gaiety complex. It is located on Harris Promenade, looking out onto Douglas Bay, and comprises the Royal Hall, Broadway Cinema, Promenade Suite, Dragon’s Castle and the Colonnade Gardens. . . . After unsuccessfully advertising the lease for continued use as a hotel, Henry Noble purchased the shares held by John Firth and set about turning the Villa Marina into his personal residence; although there was a degree of consensus at the time that the estate should have been bought and turned into a pleasure ground with a proposal put forward to raise £10,000 in £1 shares for the purchase. . . . The entire site was bequeathed in Noble’s will to the Henry Bloom Noble Trust. The site was used as the venue for several summer garden fetes and parties and provided a particularly good vantage point for the running of the Gordon Bennett Trials, first held on the Isle of Man in 1904. On several occasions the Villa Marina’s grounds played host to open air religious services, one such instance being the annual session of the District Synod of the Primitive Methodist Church (Liverpool District) which was held in Douglas in the Spring of 1906. Following Noble’s death there was a degree of uncertainty as to what would become of the estate, with a fear that it could be sold to property developers as this was the height of the Isle of Man’s tourism boom. However, the trust donated the entire site to Douglas Corporation which then redeveloped the site as an entertainment venue. Upon completion the venue was opened by the Lieutenant Governor, Lord Raglan, on 19 July 1913.

The original name of the venue was the Villa Marina Kursaal. In part this was seen as an attempt by the Corporation to address the town’s perceived lack of sophistication and to raise the town’s profile to visitors. The Germanic term for the venue was dropped at the outbreak of World War I and the venue was renamed the Royal Hall.

Great Laxey Wheel, Isle of Man

The Great Wheel, Laxey, I.O.M.
Postmarked 1905
Publisher: Frederick Hartmann (1902-1909)

Google Street View (approximate).

The Laxey Wheel, The Mannin Folk (song)

The Great Laxey Wheel (Queeyl Vooar Laksey) or Lady Isabella (as she is also known) is the largest working waterwheel in the world. A brilliant example of Victorian engineering she was built in 1854 to pump water from the Laxey mines.
Manx National Heritage

The Laxey water wheel was designed by the Manx engineer Robert Casement. The wheel’s axle was forged by the Mersey Iron Works of Liverpool but the cast iron rims were made on the Island by Gelling’s Foundry at Douglas. The timbers of the wheel were shaped by Manx artisans and the whole structure was assembled here on the Island. The official opening of this huge wheel took place in September 1854 and it was set in motion by the Honourable Charles Hope, the Lieutenant Governor of the Island. The wheel was named “Lady Isabella” in honour of the Governor’s wife. The wheel has a diameter of 72 feet 6 inches, (over 22 metres), and a width of 6 feet. It is capable of pumping 250 gallons of water per minute from a depth of almost 1,500 feet. The mine shaft from which the water was pumped was sited about 450 yards from the great wheel. The power from the wheel was transmitted to the pumping mechanism by a series of rods supported by and running along an imposing masonry viaduct.
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Open Air Baths, Port Erin, Isle of Man

Port Erin, The Baths
1910s (from postmark, earlier image)
Publisher: Francis Frith & Co, Reigate

Google Strew View

The former Traie Meanagh open air swimming baths in Port Erin opened in June 1899 and hosted swimmers for more than 80 years, closing as baths in 1981. It was then turned into a fish farm which ceased to operate in 1990.
Manx Scenes (present day photos)

Port Erin Baths were a very popular destination from the early 1900’s to mid 1970’s. The mixed pool has been used for many Edwardian postcards over the years. People from all over the island to travel to visit the open air pool, swimming galas were held weekly to keep users entertained.
Manx Nostalgia (historical photos)

Open Air Service, Old Kirk Braddan, Isle of Man

Kirch, Braddan. Open-Air Service.
“Manx Sun Series”

Google Street View (approximate).

iMuseum: more pictures

When the Manx tourist industry began to grow in the 1850’s, it became the custom for summer visitors to walk or drive from Douglas to Braddan for Divine Service on Sunday mornings. Their numbers so increased that the old church could not hold them, and in 1856 Sunday morning services began to be held in the churchyard outside. Congregations grew further, particularly after Braddan halt on the Douglas-St John’s railway line was opened in 1897, and in 1913 the services were transferred to the field to the west of the new church; the field was purchased by the vicar and churchwardens in 1927.
Kirk Braddan

The present building dates from 1773 following complaints that the previous building was too small and that the roof and gable were unsafe. It is thought that much of the walls of the early church were incorporated into present stonework. The east end was rebuilt, a new roof added and a tower built at the west end. Like other churches it had pyramids at the corners and also on the church tower. This is only one of the churches on the Island of that of that age which has a tower. Unlike many of the other island churches, it has never been whitewashed. The church is surrounded by a large and now disused graveyard with many C18th and C19th gravestones. The tall obelisk is dedicated to Lord Henry Murray, the fifth son of the 4th Duke of Atholl, the Lord of Mann.
Old Kirk Braddan, Braddan (includes photos of interior)

Surprisingly very little is recorded about the building of this church. We know that in May 1773 the Vicar and Wardens made a Presentation to the Ecclesiastical Court stating that the roof and part of the gable appeared to be in a ruinous and dangerous state. The Court ordered that the church be viewed by a Jury of experienced workmen. Their decision is not preserved in any records but in November of that year the Wardens decided to raise the level of Cess to one shilling for each Quarterland and all other properties were assessed on an area basis in relation to a Quarterland. This would be to cover the cost of the works necessary. . . . Whether repairs were started on the church and then it was decided to completely rebuild, or whether the jury recommended that the chapel was in such a dangerous state of repair that it had to be demolished we will never know. We do know that the people of Douglas had complained that the church was becoming so full that they could not use the gallery reserved for them so it is not surprising that a decision was taken to build a new and larger church.
Architecturally the church does not really fall into any recognisable category for the Georgian Period but then most of the Manx Churches have a style of their own, reflecting their amateur design and very limited resources. The church is built of local rubble stone much of which was probably reclaimed from the old church. There are however quoins of Foxdale granite in the tower, and the door and window jambs show samples of freestone, granite and sandstone. Scattered here and there on the stones are letters, dates and words, carved no doubt for practice by apprentice monumental masons while their master were elsewhere. There is nothing to suggest that the exterior of the church or tower was ever whitewashed as was the case with many other churches on the Island. The four corners of the building were marked by a pinnacle, an unknown feature for a Manx Church at that time, although St. Marks built only a year earlier in 1772 had similar ornamental finish to the corners and elsewhere.
Kirk Braddan Old Church, by Peter Kelly MBE CP (1982)

Born the fourth son of John Murray, 3rd Duke of Atholl, Henry Murray was appointed Colonel of the newly formed Royal Manx Fencibles in September 1795. The following year saw the regiment being deployed to Derry in anticipation of the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and in June 1798 he ordered the burning of Ballymoney in reprisal for the rebellion. In February 1802 he went to Bath to recover from a bout of gout and later that year, following the Peace of Amiens, his regiment was disbanded at Whitehaven. Murray acted from 1804 as Lieutenant Governor and Deputy to his brother, John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl, in his role as Governor of the Isle of Man. Murray died in office only a year later in 1805: there is a memorial to him at Old Kirk Braddan.

Groudle Glen, Isle of Man

The Groudle Glen, I.O.M
Dated 1931
Publisher: Valentine

Google Maps.

Images on Wikipedia Commons (more recent photos)

Only two and a half miles north of Douglas is the Groudle Glen. It is of a deep, and in places rocky nature, with a lively bubbling stream running through its length. Excellent specimens of beech grow in the upper section whilst lower down pines and larch are more abundant. A small water wheel is situated in the lower glen. An attraction in the glen is the minature railway, run by enthusiasts which operates seasonally.
Isle of Man: Things to do

In the year 1890, an enterprising businessman by the name of Mr. Richard Maitby Broadbent who owned the Bibaloe Beg farm in Onchan, purchased the lease for the whole of the Groudle Glen area from The Howstrake Estate. At that time the glen was in its natural state with grass, ferns and very few trees, indeed when the glen first opened to the public it was known as “The Fern Glen of the Isle of Man”. . . . The development of the glen continued with trees being planted and the trademark rustic bridges built across the river. A pathway was made from the entrance beside the hotel to a rocky inlet approximately half a mile around the headlands. The inlet was a perfect natural bowl, sheltered from the winds and it was decided to use it to its full potential by creating a sea-lion pool. To achieve this, the inlet was dammed and closed off, so creating a lovely pool area in which to house not only the sea-lions but even a polar bear. . . . Broadbent then hit on the idea of introducing yet another attraction, a narrow (two-foot) gauge railway to run from the inner glen to the sea-lion pool. The little railway was completed in 1896, using entirely local labour. Shortly after, Mr. Broadbent took delivery of a small locomotive, aptly named the “Sea-lion”, along with three small coaches, which had arrived from England. It was to be advertised in the local press and guide books as the world’s smallest railway. . . . The polar bears were retired during the Great War. Their keeper at the time, Mr. Fred Kelly who lived in the cottage, the ruins of which can still be seen at the lower entrance to the glen, he had been under instructions to shoot them, but was unable to face the task, however we do not know the final outcome. The second World War saw the closure of the pool, and the sea-lions released. Unfortunately when the line reopened in 1946 the Groudle company suffered badly at the hands of what had become a new post-war phenomenon, vandals. With a landslide on the headland making it impossible for the trains to reach the pool and the added fact that the sea lions were not replaced, it was decided to close the line.
Isle of Man: Groudle Glen via the Wayback Machine

The upper part of the glen, under the viaduct and towards the Whitebridge, was not accessible and once past the turnstile the visitor turned right towards the sea. After a short distance as one followed the now narrowing path high above the ravine, a rustic bridge spanned the river and led across to an ingeniously contrived walkway which clung to the face of the steep rock slabs on the far side. Some brickwork, which supported the bridge, projected out from the path and may still be seen. This aerial walkway led down to join the main path below the water wheel.
Mike Caine

The Water Wheel, Groudle Glen, Isle of Man
On the back:
British Empire Exhibition
Manx Kiosk, London —– 192-
Having a good time here but expect to have a better when I meet you in the Isle of Man.
Issued by the Isle of Man (Official) Board of Advertising and Information Free from C. P. Clague, Secretary.

The glen has a water wheel and wheelhouse, which were first operated in about 1895. The wheel provided power for the glen’s fairy lights, and water was pumped up the glen to the hotel at the top. Later in its life, it was to become a feature in a well known 1986 BBC TV series called ‘Lovejoy”.
Isle of Man: Groudle Glen via the Wayback Machine

The glen was laid out with rustic style pathways and bridges over the River Groudle by means of which the visitor could walk through the glen and down to the beach. A water wheel, sited where the river runs through a narrow defile in the rocks, was an added attraction and was the subject of many post cards. The wheel had been removed from the defunct Little Mill, higher up the Groudle river, and is reputed to have been transported to its new site by way of the river-bed. In 1894 Mr Broadbent had it set up, with a new wheel house, in Groudle glen and it was used to pump water up to the hotel.
Mike Caine