[From Examiner Directory, 1887]



Douglas, the chief town of the Isle of Man and the seat of its Government and Legislature, is situated on the south-eastern side of the Island, almost midway between its extreme north and south points. It is conveniently placed at the mouth of the river Douglas (from which stream it derives its name) in the southern angle of the fine bay of the same name ; and is 46 miles west of Barrow, and 80 miles north-west of Liverpool. Modern Douglas consists of two parts—New Douglas and Old Douglas—the former occupying the low land along the foot of the cliffs and terracing the slopes and summits of the cliffs themselves ; while the latter occupies the level space included between the harbour, the cliffs, and the sea. The new town is well laid out, the streets being broad and frequently shaded with trees, and the houses large and handsome, being built principally for the purposes of the town as a fashionable summer resort. The old town, so far as it still remains unaltered, is the picturesque relics of the old smuggling town, and exhibits many curious and interesting features of the Douglas of the eighteenth century. It is, however, being rapidly transformed under the influence of the modern occupations of the town, and will soon have disappeared altogether. One broad, modern street—Victoria Street—the chief business thoroughfare of the town, has been driven right through one of its most thickly crowded districts ; and a considerable portion of the foreshore has been embanked in, and a noble terrace of houses built upon it, with a magnificent promenade in front, thus turning that part of the old town completely round to face the sea. At the present moment also other improvements of a similar nature and of an equally extensive character are projected by the Municipal Authorities, which, when carried out, will as completely alter the appearance of that part of the old town in the neighbourhood of the port and harbour. Douglas is the principal port of the Island. and possesses considerable trade with Liverpool, Barrow, Fleetwood, and other Channel ports, especially in the summer season, when close upon 200,000 persons, chiefly from the midland and northern counties of England, visit it. To meet the requirements of this enormous immigration, as well as of the ordinary resident population of the town and of the country districts dependent upon it, a commerce of increasing importance is rapidly springing up, chiefly with Liverpool, which is carried on both by means of the several lines of passenger steamers and also of a large number of sailing vessels. The export trade of the Island is not very great; consisting mainly of agricultural produce and cattle, of lead and other ores from the various mines, and of fish in the herring season

The harbour of Douglas is a tidal one, but to meet the requirements of its summer traffic an extensive series of harbour works, costing, in the aggregate, about a quarter of a million sterling, have been constructed, which have not only provided landing accommodation at all states of the tide, but have also formed an outer harbour of considerable extent, into which vessels of the largest size can enter in all weathers and all states of the tide. Among these harbour works are the Old Red Pier, completed in 1801, at a cost of £22,000, 540 feet long, and 40 feet wide ; the Fort Anne Jetty, built in 1837, to protect the inner harbour from the great scour of the waves in south-eastern gales. the Victoria Pier, completed in 1872, at a cost of about £50,000, 1,100 feet long and 50 wide ; and the Battery Pier, or Breakwater, running out from Douglas Head, at a cost of nearly £80,000, and completed in 1879, to shelter the inner harbour. The Victoria Pier has been already found to be too short and too narrow for the traffic upon it ; and, after considerable delay, it is at the present moment being lengthened to the extent of 300 feet, at a cost of about £53,000. Douglas possesses no manufactures of any importance, which is greatly to be regretted, as in some respects the town has special facilities for manufacturing purposes, and the absence of other employment makes the people entirely dependent upon the one industry of the town, and this industry being in a great measure dependent upon the weather and outside influences, the effects upon the population are anything but satisfactory. The population of Douglas is rapidly increasing. In 1851 it was 9,880 ; in 1881 it was 15,719, an increase of 5,839, or 60 per cent. in the 30 years. At the present time (January, 1887) its estimated population is about 19,000, which is considerably more than one-third the entire population of the Island—about 55,000. As a further proof of the extraordinary progress of Douglas of late years we may state that in I 879 the rateable value of the town Was £36,600. In 1884 this figure had risen to £73,000—an increase of 36,400, or 100 per cent. in the five years. At the present time it is £82,875 a further increase of £9,875. The valuation of the country districts in 1884 was £166,405 11s 0d, and that of the three out-towns, £17,662 11s 6d, a total of £184,068 2s 6d. From this it appears that the valuation of Douglas at that time was about one-half that of the country parishes, and considerably more than four times that of the other three towns. At the present time the relative proportion of the rateable value of Douglas to that of the rest of the Island has still further increased.

Douglas sends three representatives to the House of Keys, but, as this is only one-eighth of the entire representation, while its population and its rateable value are respectively each more than one-third of the whole, this amount of representation is far from satisfying the town, and an increased representation is urgently demanded by the ratepayers.

Douglas is a partially incorporated municipality, its internal affairs being under the control of a Local Board consisting of nine members elected by the ratepayers. This arrangement has existed since 1860. Under the Local Government Act, now awaiting the sanction of the Crown, considerable alterations will be made in the existing municipal arrangements ; but the aspirations. of the town as well as its requirements are in the direction of full incorporation, and that measure cannot be much longer delayed. Its Local Police Court is presided over by a High-Bailiff, an official who in many respects closely corresponds to the stipendiary magistrate of English municipalities ; though he possesses peculiar functions which the English magistrate does not exercise. The present Chairman of the Town Board is Thos. Keig, Esq., and the present High-Bailiff is Samuel Harris, Esq., who, we may remark, was the first Chairman of the newly-constructed Town Board in 1860.


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