Royal Commission on Tidal Harbours 1845

This is part of that report dealing with Isle of Man

Isle of Man

The central position of this island in the Irish Channel, the generally rocky nature of its shores, combined with the total absence of deep-water harbours, and its being the focus of a large herring fishery - second only to that on the Caithness - coast to which boats resort from the west coasts of Scotland, Ireland, and the coasts of Cornwall, give it strong claims for consideration.

From the evidence before us, with regard to its situation, as adapted for affording shelter to the large passing traffic, as well as from an analysis of the wreck returns, we do not deem it expedient to entertain any of the larger schemes proposed for Refuge harbours either in Douglas or Ramsey bay; but we are of opinion, that aid to a limited extent, will be highly beneficial in providing shelter not only for the passing trade, but also for the security of the inhabitants of the island, who, in the ordinary pursuits of life, are now exposed to considerable risk, from being under the necessity of embarking and landing in open boats at its chief port. We may further add, that it has been clearly shown that great inconvenience and loss result from the want of a certain communication with the neighbouring commercial ports and the seat of Government, arising entirely from deficient harbour accommodation.

Douglas is the place of the greatest trade and importance, and between this port and Liverpool lies the line of communication for passengers and mails. The harbour is not only insufficient in extent, but is exposed, and often dangerous. We have, therefore, no hesitation in recommending the construction of a Refuge harbour in the small bay outside the existing port, sufficient in area to meet the requirements of the passing trade to afford security for passenger traffic and postal communication, and to give lthe necessary shelter for the fishing boats.

Taking into view the comparative amounts of national and local benefit which will be conferred by meeting the above requirements, we are of opinion that they are equal, and as it appears that a harbour for these purposes can be constructed at a cost of 100,00l., we submit that a Grant should be made in aid of its construction to the extent of' 50,000l., on the condition that-the other half is provided by the public funds of the island.

Our attention has also been drawn to the insufficient shelter for the fishing fleet on the west and south coasts of the island, and it appears in evidence that the aggregate number of boats to be provided for amounts to 600 sail, manned by 4,200 hands, with an addition of 2,000 employed as carriers from the fishing station to the different markets.

Peel, the chief fishing harbour, is inaccessible to the boats at low water, which are therefore exposed to much danger in an on-shore gale, and withal only capable of containing two thirds of the fleet; from these circumstances, and the frequent overcrowded state of the harbour, boats are often prevented putting to sea in the evening when the weather threatens; and it has been stated, that in this manner in one night a catch of fish equal in value to 2,000l. has been lost for want of a secure shelter to run for in case of need. We, therefore, recommend [Supplementary Report] the carrying out a pier from the Horse Rock, at the Castle; proceeding in an. easterly direction, to the extent of 500 feet, terminating in 20 feet at low water spring tides, and estimated to cost 25,000l., as will be shown, which we consider will effect the Shelter so much wanted.

With respect. to the remaining fishing harbours, it does not appear that any satisfactory work for enlarged shelter can be constructed at Port St. Mary, which is also a small tidal port; but as Port Erin serves as an auxiliary refuge both to Peel and St. Mary, and as this little bay is deep, clean, and sheltered on three sides, we recommend the construction of a pier running out from its south shore, which will be a valuable addition to its natural advantages, and afford good shelter to a large number of boats. A design for this pier will be shown on an annexed plan,[Supplementary Report] to the extent of 500 feet, and terminating in 23 feet at low water.

To meet the construction of the proposed works at Peel and Port Erin, in both cases chiefly of local benefit, we recommend a loan of 15,000l. for each place, on condition that in each case an additional sum of 100,00l. shall be granted from the funds of the Island

  plans from 2nd Report

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2008