[From Leech's Guide, 1861]
"My Island home.! my Island home!
The lone, the lovd, the fair, the free;
Pale emerald set in pearly foam,
One Island heart beats high for thee
Amid the whirlwinds and the storms,
Whateer my fate, whereer I roam,
The thought of thee my bosom warms,
My Island home! my Island home
This delightful and rapidly progressing watering place, which is already celebrated for its genial atmosphere and salubrious climate, its unequalled advantages for sea bathing, the moderate charges of its hotels and lodging houses, and the economical rates at which the comforts and luxuries of life may be obtained by non-permanent residents,is pleasantly situated on the crescent-shaped margin of an extensive bay, the waters of which are famed for their translucent purity, and stretch across a space of about eight miles from the Point of Ayre to Maughold Head. The river Sulby flows into the sea at Ramsey, and its estuary forms a fine harbour, which is capable of admitting vessels of considerable burthen. This river is the most considerable on the island, and abounds in fine trout, affording pleasing employment to the disciples of Isaac Walton.
Ramsey from the South
At the ebb of the tide the extensive beds of firm hard sand on the shore of Ramsey bay, afford a delightful promenade, where those who are in search of health, or relaxation from the cares of business, have an opportunity of inhaling the delicious and health-giving saline breezes, and mothers with groups of happy looking children may be seen playfully exploring the wonders of the picturesque piles of rugged rocks, that line the coast near Port Lewaigue ;a beautifully sequestered nook formed by a small spur of land about three hundred yards long, and situated about three quarters of a mile from Ramsey, towards the towering promontory of Maughold Head. Here rare shells and sea weeds may be collected, and the flower like sea-anemone unfolds its crimson petals in the crevices of the rocks. The balmy breeze on the shore tempering the heat of the suns rays, the crystal waves heaving with a gentle ripple over the level sands, the distinct view of Maughold Head, and the more distant Point of Ayre, viewed through a pure atmosphere, render the whole a vision of dream-like loveliness.
The Town itself next claims our attention. To the visitor on approaching the shore the general view is striking. The sharply defined outlines of the grey and white stone-built houses, against the green mountains and verdurous plantations, beneath which it appears to nestle in peaceful quietness; the sails of the numerous trading, fishing, and pleasure boats; and the tapering masts in the snug harbour, present a pleasing and attractive appearance. Landing from the steamer on a fine summer evening, greeted by clients from the merry crowd that invariably welcome the advent of their favourite steamer, the visitor is at once conducted to one of the excellent hotels, unless preferring the retirement of a comfortable lodging, in either of which situation, he is sure to have his wishes cheerfully executed, and his wants abundantly supplied.
The Court House is perhaps the building that would first attract the notice of a stranger visiting the town. This is a neat square structure, surrounded by a court yard, and situated about the centre of the town. In this Court House the Deemster for the northern district,. the Vicar General the High Bailiff and Magistrates hold their respective courts, at varying intervals, and justice is impartially administered.
On the south side of the Market Place stands a neat and commodious chapel of ease to the parish church of Maughold, dedicated to St. Paul. On the church tower facing the quay is placed a large public clock, by which the town time is regulated. This church was erected in the year 1819 by subscription, assisted by a donation of, £300 from the "Church Building Society," upon condition that a certain number of free seats should be appropriated for the poor, and accordingly about one hundred free sittings are set apart for this purpose. Public worship in St. Pauls on Sunday commences at 11 oclock forenoon, and half-past 6 evening. An organ has recently been added to the church, and it may be remarked here, that to this and all the other places of worship strangers are welcomed, and seats provided for them.
Another chapel of ease dedicated to St. Mary is most beautifully situated below the woods at the foot of Albert Hill, near Ballure. its still seclusion and venerable burying-ground the only access is by a grassy path from the high road. This small church was erected by the excellent Bishop Wilson, of revered memory, and consecrated by him when in the 93d year of his age. Until a few years ago it had long been disused, neglected, and suffered to fall into decay; but it has lately been thoroughly and substantially repaired, and may now be seen standing in all the beauty of its pristine condition. Divine service is occasionally performed therein during the summer months, and the ground attached to it is appropriated as a place of interment for strangers. There are also several places of worship belonging to other religious denominations; among the principal of which may be mentioned a neat chapel in Waterloo Road, the property of the Wesleyan Methodists, to which an organ has recently been added. The United Presbyterian Chapel is situated in the same neighbourhood, and the Primitive Methodists have also a chapel. On the summit of the Sandy, or Bowring Road, separated from the town by the River Sulby, which is crossed by a substantial bridge of three arches, the spiritual requirements of the residents and visitors have been attended to by fitting up a large building of two stories, as a chapel of ease.
As might be expected from the numerous advantages presented for the effectual rearing of youth, in the salubrity of the climate, the facilities for sea bathing, the aristocratic quietude of the place, the moderate prices of all the necessaries of life, and the extremely low rents at which well-built and commodious houses can be obtained,Ramsey for its size possesses an unusual number of educational establishments for the youth of both sexes, where sound and useful instruction is communicated on very reasonable terms.
The Custom House is on the quay, and some idea may be formed of the extensive traffic of the place from this fact, that in 1855, in consequence of the great increase of trade since the establishment of the steamer, Ramsey was under the Customs regulations raised to the dignity of a Port, whereas previously it was subsidiary to Douglas.
The Post Office is in Parliament-street. The mails are conveyed direct to and from Liverpool by the Ramsey steamer, on each occasion of sailing, and on other days are received and dispatched via Douglas or Castletown. There is a daily communication with Douglas. and the mail is conveyed each morning to the surrounding country by rural messengers.
Parliament-street is the principal street of the town, and is chiefly occupied by excellent shops. It would be difficult to find in another town of the same size so many respectable tradesmen carrying on their different occupations. Here are to be found drapers, grocers, bakers, butchers, druggists, ironmongers, stationers, watchmakers, hatters, tailors, and shoemakers, all vying with each other to give satisfaction to the public; in which, under the wholesome check of competition, they must be acknowledged to succeed, both in the variety and excellence of their wares, and in the general moderation of their charges. To a stranger visiting these establishments it will be found that many of the grocery goods such as tea, sugar, wine, spirits, ale, dried fruit, tobacco, &c. are much cheaper than in England, owing to the small duties levied on such articles; and in the other shops the cheap rents, low wages, together with freedom from taxes, enable the proprietors doubtless to sell their goods cheaper than in the more expensive and highly taxed establishments in England.
The Market Place is a capacious square, abutting on the quay, where on Saturdays the weekly market is regularly held. At these times it presents quite an animated appearance. Numbers of smartly dressed country-women attend with their well loaded baskets of poultry, butter, and eggs; carts containing potatoes and every species of vegetable, and trays of the various fruits in season; country butchers stalls and fish carts, amid the lively chatter in Manx and English going on simultaneously, divert the attention of English buyers, and cause them to linger over their marketings. It is a well-known fact that the necessaries of life can be purchased at a mach cheaper rate in Ramsey than in most other watering places.
In the Market Place all kinds of fish are exposed for sale; herrings, mackerel, and cod abundantly in their respective seasons ; and occasionally salmon trout, haddock, whiting, gurnet, turbot, brett, sole, skate, fluke, and eel. These are all supplied fresh out of the water, and are sold on very reasonable terms. Occasionally when the supply exceeds the demand, they are sold remarkably cheap.
The establishment of a first-class steamer belonging to Ramsey, by the energy and public spirit of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood to ply regularly to Liverpool, and occasionally to Scotland, marks a new era in its onward course of prosperity, and trade has thereby received a decided impetus. A market is provided for all the superfluity of home produce; thus stirring up the farmers and the farmers wives to unprecedented exertions; while many articles of comfort and luxury are brought into Ramsey that have not been usually seen in its shops, or upon its Saturday stalls, unless expensively introduced thither overland from Douglas. The stranger resident likewise, who had to undertake a slow and toilsome journey over the hills to Douglas, before he could step upon the deck of the vessel that would carry him for a short visit to his native home, now simply descends the steps of the pier, or walks direct on board, bids a cheerful adieu to the friends who have accompanied him to see him off, and finds himself within a few short hours on the opposite shore.
The Steam Navigation Company have erected offices and warehouses on the quay, and are continually modifying their arrangements for the greater efficiency of their enterprise, and the better furtherance of the interests of those who avail themselves of the advantages offered. These will doubtless be still more entirely consulted when the projected harbour improvements are carried into execution, for which purpose the sum of £7500 is proposed to be expended by Government.
On the north side of the harbour, now aptly named North Ramsey, a patent slip of large dimensions has been erected, the only one on the Island, on which vessels of considerable tonnage can be speedily and efficiently repaired, both iron steamers and wooden vessels having already been on the slip for repairs and alterations. From the building yard attached, the spirited proprietor has launched new ships of wood and iron; and the facilities for this trade are such as to afford a well grounded expectation of its gradual extension. Limekilns have recently been built in the same neighbourhood, on the most improved construction; and that essential article for profitable farming, as well as for building purposes, can now be obtained on the spot. Here also gas-works have been erected, supplying the town with a long required desideratum; and although not yet introduced in street lamps, it is hoped the inhabitants will not much longer be permitted to remain in darkness.
Gas and water works are so closely allied with an Englishmans ideas of comfort and necessaries, it may not be out of place here to mention, that a movement has been made, and it is anticipated will be proceeded with, for supplying the town with water. When the importance of a plentiful supply of this pure and purifying element is considered, so essential as it is for health, comfort, and cleanliness, nay for life itself, it may well be a matter of surprise that its introduction should have been so long delayed, especially as an abundance of the purest quality is running to waste quite close to the town, at an elevation which would render the works for conveying it in profusion to the doors of rich and poor a most simple inexpensive undertaking.
One other public work that may be mentioned, the tall chimney of which rises conspicuously, is a brewery recently erected on improved principles, where the various kinds of malt liquors are brewed, and sold at much cheaper rates than in many other watering places, there being no duty chargeable upon malt.
It may not be out of place to call the attention of visitors to the substantial nature of the dwelling houses in Ramsey, which being strongly built of stone are free from such accidents as frequently occur to the slightly built brick houses in England. It may also be useful to mention that with the exception of a small tax on dogs and spring carriages, the only impost is the annual payment of 4s. 6d. for three days labour towards the repair of the high roads, which contrasted with the income tax, poor rates, house duty, &c., that drain the purses and disturb the equanimity of residents in other parts of Great Britain, present in a pecuniary point of view many advantages.