[From Flaxney Stowell, Castletown 100 years ago]
CASTLETOWN was prospering outside the protecting walls of Castle Rushen when what are now towns on the Island were mere fishing villages. Castletown stands on a level tract of land by the sea, and stretching toward the slopes of South Barrule (1,500 feet), which shelters it from northerly winds. Not being surrounded by high hills the air is bracing. Being open to the sea on the south-west, Castletown is affected by the prevailing winds which blow three-fourths of the year across the Atlantic in this direction. Needless to say all these influences combine to form a most healthy and invigorating climate, and the inhabitants lead a very different life to that of dwellers in crowded inland cities, or toilers in deep mines.
The peasant class in Castletown a hundred years ago lived in picturesque little thatched cabins. But, except as a sleeping place and a shelter from inclement weather, they troubled the inside of their cottages very little, spending their time in the healthy open air.
The town still retains its original form. The four principal streets of the present day - Queen Street, Arbory Street, Malew Street, and Mill Street - are built on the foundations of the old ones, with the zig-zags for protection from winter storms. Our ancestors were no babes, and knew that a storm rushes along a straight street as through a funnel, and would carry their little shelters with it.
Castletown proper consists of the four streets before mentioned, and a few comparatively modern terraces and some houses about the Castle, which, itself, is the most ancient and most remarkable feature of the quaint old town.
Building these new terraces has been like "robbing Peter to pay Paul," as the only result has been that some of the old houses, being deserted for the new, have been suffered to fall into ruins.
The population has not increased with the years that have gone over Castletown, and, in this respect as in many others, we may say of it that, "As it was in the beginning, is now"- shall we add, "and ever shall be?" We hope so, if by remaining as they are, Castletown people can set an example of the Higher Life to the mushroom towns of the Island, with their extensions, accompanied by growing disregard for the Sabbath.