Peel in the 60s by Tony Quirk | 22nd January 2020

Report by John Slater

Tony Quirk, well known son of equally notable father, Harrison, one of Peel Heritage Trust’s founding fathers, certainly ‘packed them in’! Our treasurer told me that there were 130 in the audience! Although straying to Douglas for a while in his working life, Tony joyfully remained a true ‘native of Peel’ returning to rebuild the family home on the headland. Home is where the heart is!

The gentle, relaxed well-illustrated presentation was a joy. Tony felt that ‘The Sixties’ never really happened in Peel. Having said which, he was just a youngster when it started but he finished as a married man!

Peel was a mixture of tourism, fishing and industry. It offered many attractions for visitors that were also enjoyed by locals. We saw pictures of the Peel Bay swim, beauty shows, the Herring Queen on a fishing boat in 1961, a Pageant Queen and Miss Sunset City to name but a few. The chaps didn’t seem to feature in these events but doubtless helped by showing their appreciation in venues such as the popular Pavilion Cinema!

The weekly sandcastle competition was popular as was a steady harvest of scallops and queenies. There was no mention of foreign competition or fishing quotas although there must always be the underlying uncertainty of any harvest whether from sea or land.

The 1966 seamen’s strike wrought havoc with the hoteliers who relied on’the season to get by for another season. Large protests were organised and every effort was made to stimulate trade with a succession of beauty and pets parades, hippie dances in the Creg Malin Hotel. Local cafes were seen plus shots of the air-sea rescue vessel based in Peel to support the off-shore bombing ranges.
The docks were busy with coal boats. These were unloaded by hand. No oil terminal such as we now enjoy.

The world famous P50 and Trident cars were built in what became West Marine. These were all part of Cyril Cannell’s brilliant, inventive mind. He would have been stunned to know that these tiny vehicles would now be changing hands for many thousands of pounds. The Transport Museum counts itself very fortunate to own a beautifully restored example.
Tony showed us a 1963 photograph of a Peel P50 being lifted off the ground by two young ladies. This was to demonstrate how light they were. Another feature was no reverse gear. One simply lifts a handle on the rear of the car and walk round with it. Just one hand will do.

Photographs of the open- air baths and the swimming galas produced more memories from the audience as did the Viking Festival, one complete with the Royal Yacht and attendant royalty.
The great sadness was the closing of the railway in 1968. Given modern traffic density and attendant environmental issues, this would not happen today – or would it!

Next meeting is on Wednesday, February 19th at 7.30pm in the Centenary Centre with refreshments in the Atholl Room. Members and non-members welcome. We need you and your ideas. The short AGM will be followed by brief but brilliant short talks. Unmissable!