Peel Architecture and Landscape……26th January 2010

Wow – what an evening! More than ninety of us knew that we were in for a very special treat and all but filled the Centenary Centre.

Pat Tutt, one of our local architects and specialist architectural photographer who once had a practice in Peel before lecturing at the Isle of Man College, was our star of the evening. Her love of the ancient city of Peel and its setting shone through her presentation.

We were invited to consider a wide range of attributes of the built and natural environment and the effects they have on our well-being. This goes far beyond the layout of particular buildings and their fitness for purpose. Consideration was given to their juxtaposition, nestling up, in old Peel, like good friends supporting and sheltering each other. Deliberately narrow, twisty streets breaking the force of sea gales, driving spray and sand. These early builders knew what they doing. Compare this to the featureless, windswept, desolate estates attempting to strangle this gorgeous, ancient place. Why aren’t those responsible rammed into spiked barrels and rolled down Peel Hill? This last comment is mine, by the way and certainly not aimed at those living there for want of anything else on the market! Many old Peel properties change hands long before reaching the agents, such is the intensity of demand!

The opening slide was of the now intensely yellow building abutting St Peter’s churchyard. We are growing increasingly fond of this striking colour as with the splendid orange on a cottage at the head of Station Road hill. This intense vibrancy of colour is reminiscent of some Mediterranean towns. Thought needs to be given to neighbouring colours, of course.

The talk began with a potted history of Peel from earliest recorded time with defensive structures and religious sites on what is now known as St Patrick’s Isle. The ancient cathedral and proposed 19th c. plans to restore it, as on Iona, were studied. If only……..!

The progression from a fishing and trading port, surrounded by farmsteads, to a tourist centre were illustrated by gorgeous photographs of fine quality. Each was imaginative, capturing not just a scene or a building but also its unique atmosphere.

The renowned artist, Archibald Knox , in 1896, valued Peel as the most attractive place in Man. The author, Hall Caine was equally complimentary.

The architect, Gordon Cullen, 1914 –94 produced a wonderful scheme for enhancing Peel, creating public spaces and enhancing existing buildings and vistas. Pat showed us some of his scheme and we hope to have this, with more of Pat’s work on display before too long. The T.V. presenter, Dan Cruickshank, praised Cullen’s work. Pat said that the time had come for a serious re-appraisal of Peel, particularly with regard to traffic being given precedence to people.

Next meeting, Tuesday, 23rd February, 7.30pm, in the Centenary Centre. Our famous AGM will be followed by Pat Skillicorn. Don’t be left out!