M.N.H. Archives for Peel…Wendy Thirkettle

Wendy Thirkettle, archivist at Manx National Heritage, gave us a tantalising glimpse of the wealth of archive material held by Manx National Heritage. She entitled her talk, ‘Aspects of Peel and the West.’ To contain this in a reasonable time frame was an obvious challenge, so she had, sensibly, concentrated on items and events that appealed to her and were likely to be of interest to this largely local audience.

We saw the relatively new five- storey storage building referred to as ‘the stack’. Fresh to our eyes were the internal, mobile racks that can be wound to and fro to allow access between them. Personally, having viewed films where victims were deliberately crushed between them, I would feel a little wary of using them!

Business archives were illustrated by Irving’s Peel pop works with views of original accounts, including supply of drinks to the Knockaloe Internment Camp in the First World War. Usefully, members of the audience were able to help identify people and places or to give dates such as when the pop works was demolished. Its name lives on in Pop Works Cottage on the corner of Atholl Street and Douglas Street. Other business accounts we examined included Peel Fishing Co. 1893 – 1905 and J. Teare, ships’ chandlers, 1866 – 1929. Wendy commented on the way people helped each other out, exchanging goods and services rather than relying, totally, on a cash economy. Mind you, in Peel, at least, we still have a strong tradition of mutual help -an important element in a community as in a family.

Court records were shown as an important archive. We were shown a couple of examples. One striking one was the Peel Riot of 1758.

An interesting item was the proposed swing bridge in 1900. The plans we saw showed a remarkable similarity to the one we now enjoy, a century later. Patience is a virtue! The original was set aside because it was felt that there would be too much delay if it was hand operated and a hydraulic drive would cost too much to recover in a reasonable time. Tolls were predicted to raise about £235 pa but the construction cost would be £4k. The famous ferries and wheeled boards continued for another half-century or so.

Various committees’ archives were displayed, as were letters and testimonials, some relating to loss of life at sea and courageous rescues. Lots of material is available from the Knockaloe internment camp. We can, of course, see much of this in our own Leece Museum on the quay.

Wendy has referred us to a new website, www.manxnationalheritage.com  I’ve just accessed this and recommend it to follow up any interests you have in the past, including the new I.Museum in Kingswood Grove, soon to be on line.

Next meeting, Wednesday 16th May, 7.30 pm in the Centenary Centre. M.G.P. winner, Carolynn Sells will tell us her adventures in this male dominated sport. Non-members are always welcome, with or without ‘bikes!