[From Merchantile Manxland, 1900]


By " KACEO."

DURING the stormy period previous to the revestment of the sovereignty of the Isle of Man in the Crown of England (1765), and for some time afterwards, no attempts were made by the natives to establish industries of any kind on the island, the then remunerative herring fishery and the active trade in contraband being regarded as fit and proper avocations for Manxmen, the women generally cultivating a little strip of land sufficient to enable them to pay the rent and to supply the wants of the family. Agriculture has been for years the chief mainstay of the island ; and if such paying industries as poultry-raising, egg-producing, fruit-growing, bacon-curing, and butter-making by modern methods were better attended to, the Manx farmers would, indeed, have no cause to complain, and thousands of pounds which go to enrich other countries would be kept on the island, where it is sadly wanted. Let us hope that there will be a fruitful outcome of the protracted labours and valuable suggestions of the Industrial Commission, both as regards agriculture, fishing, and other insular avocations.

There have been, however, considerable industrial strides made during the last century, as witness the opening of the great lead and copper mines and the great Tromode Sailcloth Factory, Quiggin's Ropery, and many other flourishing industries, full particulars of which will be found in the following pages. Still there is room for more, it being apparent that some form of industry is wanted which will find employment for the large amount of unskilled labour which is lying idle during the long winter months ; industries which will increase the productive powers and the material wealth of the community, making it less dependent on the results of the visiting season. Owing to the wise expenditure of the Official Board of Advertising, the enchanting beauty of the island and its health-giving climate are becoming more widely known, and the amount of visitors from the mainland to Mona's Isle, the Star of the Sea, increases by thousands yearly ; so much so, that all the lovely little towns on the island are getting a big share of the overflow from Douglas and Ramsey, and if the reasonable pleasures of tourists (in the refreshment department) are not further tampered with, the number of visitors must assuredly continue to increase year by year.

In all business centres, cheap and rapid transit from point to point constitute two most important factors in making up the sum of commercial prosperity. The Isle of Man is decidedly well favoured in this respect, carriage facilities at extremely -moderate rates being supplied by the Isle of Man Railway Company and the Manx Northern Railway Company, who, in combination, tap every centre of population on the island, supplying trade and commerce with their life-blood, in the form of goods, raw or manufactured, as the case may be. Business men, imbued with the spirit of enterprise, invariably take advantage of the opportunities presented to them by the Railway Companies, much to their pecuniary gain. In fact, any person who is within the railway radius, and who deliberately sends a poor horse to toil, with a heavy load, over the stiff mountain roads of the island, is guilty of the basest cruelty. Such things are, however, often done by victims of misguided notions of economy, who blind themselves to the fact that railway carriage must always be much cheaper, quicker, and better than road carriage, as may be easily seen on comparing the trifling charges of the railways with the cost of the three chief elements in road carriage, viz , carters' time, waste of valuable horseflesh, and wear and tear of vehicle. As passenger-carrying concerns, the railways are exceedingly popular. Before the days of the railways, we were accustomed to see rickety wagonettes, wandering off somewhere down a hot and dusty road, laden; with a crowd of gasping women and choking men, who also enjoyed the privilege of "getting out and walking" every few miles. Compare the wretched plight of these misguided seekers after the picturesque — packed like herrings in a barrel — with the cheerful lot of a clean, cool company as they alight from their cosy and comfortable carriage at any of the wayside stations, and it will be easily understood why for every passenger on the dusty road the railway convey their hundreds to all the beautiful spots of Mona, which the lines have opened out. Douglas is now only one out of many resorts on the island, for who in his senses would sleep in a stuffy little attic, or court repose in a dismal bathing-van — as has often occurred when Douglas has been congested, when he or she could be wafted to a luxurious bed in cosy Castletown, bracing Port St. Mary or Port Erin, picturesque Peel, or restful Ramsey? We repeat that no agency has done more to popularise the whole of the lovely island than that of the enterprising railway companies. Hence the little Manx nation is deservedly proud of its little Manx railways, which, though not so extensive as some of the railways across the water, can, at any rate, claim to be quite as well managed and as go-ahead. The object of the compiler of this little brochure is to supply as much information on industrial and commercial subjects as can be condensed into its pages to make it readable, and to publish it — in a novel and convenient form, handy for postal circulation. On perusal, it will be found to be a plain, straightforward, honest-spoken little review, which will not bore its readers by too little thought and too much matter, and the freshness of the style adopted will no doubt be welcome to our readers.


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2004