AGM Enhanced by Frances Coakley: Manx Mapping

Who would have thought that an AGM could be so pleasurable? We take a chance in having the speaker in the first half, running the risk of losing the audience for the business part. However, as a Blue Badge Guide would say, ‘we’ve never lost anyone yet!’ 

Frances Coakley opened the first half with a fascinating, illustrated talk on Manx maps and mapping .She began by explaining the difference between a diagrammatic representation and plan, which is a scale drawing.

The first known temple plan dates from 2200BC – the first atlas from 1570 AD.

We went on a historical romp from the first use of moveable type and wood engravings to satellite mapping. A map by Lloyd in 1573 showed the Island for the first time. Saxton, in 1583, was a great Tudor mapmaker and he was given authority to climb any towers he chose to help map the surroundings. Mercator, in 1595, copied Saxton’s work.

Frances explained with the aid of a diagram, the principle of triangulation for fixing points and judging distances. This was introduced in 1533.

The Speed map of the Island, in 1610, was a bit more accurate but navigators would not have wanted to rely on the coastline or land features that might help as navigational marks. No wonder so many ships were lost.

Jumping forward, Capt Collins tried to remedy this, in 1693. Of local interest, Fannin who was on Capt Cooke’s voyage, also produced some accurate work and was involved in the Peel School of Navigation. 

The Corris map of 1784 was pretty accurate and is useful to make comparisons with the present town. It wasn’t until 1833 that a road map was produced. This indicates very limited movement for most people.

Tithe maps were more accurate as landowners’ taxes were calculated from them. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until 1846 that Admiralty maps showed water depths and safe harbours. The Ordnance Survey maps with their noted accuracy came in 1866. Many maps can be seen in the Manx Museum.

A quick cuppa and on to the AGM! The present committee continues unblemished. As chairman, Tim Crookall, MHK was unable to be present it was my pleasure to present Dave Maclean, one of the Centenary Centre’s directors, with a cheque for £3000 from the Trust towards the re-roofing of the Atholl Room. This was received with much joy.

I read a speech from Tim, adding a few bits of my own about the events we had enjoyed through the year and whetting appetites with projected meetings and visits. These represent great value even at the new rate of £8 single and £10 family membership, newsletters included.

The proposal from last year, to add ‘the Island’s heritage and its history.’ to our formerly parochial aim was overwhelmingly approved. I’ll add more detail about the AGM another time.

Next meeting is Wednesday 20th March, 7.30pm in the Centenary Centre – ‘Manx Dialect’ with Roy Kennaugh. This will be a  real treat.

John Slater