Manx Methodist Historical Society - Newsletter 7


We start this time with a poser:

In the south of the Island, on the track road through Glendown to the Truggan Road, from the Howe, there is a small, old building which is now a stable for "Tina". It has a door, whose porch forms part of the roof, one window, and a small stable at the side.

Rev. Fred Costain writes

" Two hundred years ago from Cregneish, the road to Port Erin was via Balnahowe and Dandy Hill to the harbour. The road to Port St. Mary was (apart from the 'creel road' over Cronk-y-Watch) via the Howe Hill, Glenchass and Fistard. The road below Glenchass Road corner was non-existent. From Port St. Mary the road to Port Erin was via the Cronk and the Truggan Road. There would be a 'funeral road' or track along what is now Station Road and the Plantation Hill. 'I suggest that the Howe to Port Erin road was the cart road down via Glendown to the Truggan Road.'

'While not disputing the fact that the Corvalley cottages were the chapel preceding the present one, I suggest that the old building may be an earlier and original chapel:

1) Contemporary old Manx cottages were thatched. This one most certainly was not - and chapels were not.
2)While it may later have been 'squatted' in, with the stable conversed to a pigsty, it was not originally a dwelling house, as it has no second room or usual cock-loft.
3) I've never seen any old ruin of the sort without a fireplace or flue in the centre of the gable - this flue is in the corner.
4) One room and a corner hearth was typical of many of the original tiny Methodist chapels. "

Was it a chapel? Are there any other examples like this? Where did the Primitive Methodists meet at the Howe? - They never really were established there, and soon joined the Wesleyans.

Any comments to the editor please:-


Memories of Wesleyan Methodism at the turn of the century
At our Annual General Meeting in October, 1986, Mr. Cowin presented a taped interview with Miss Frances Davidson, who is a member at the Promenade Church, Douglas, and who is now 85 years old.
Miss Davidson's Grandfather was a local preacher - his name appears on the Plan for 1840 her father J.J.Davidson, was also a local preacher and the first secretary of the Trustees at Salisbury Street; her mother was one of the first Sunday School teachers at Salisbury Street. The family also had long connections with Thomas Street, and Miss Davidson remembers her grandmother had measured the place of her seat in the old church so that when the new church was built she could sit in the same place!
Many of Miss Davidson's memories of Methodism relate to her experiences while travelling with her father to his preaching appointments. Frequently of course, this would be by walking, but a visit to the Baldwin chapels would involve going by horse and trap. The trap would go as for as the East Baldwin chapel, the other preacher would walk to the West Baldwin chapel, the trap would stay at Ballacrink Farm, and they would all have tea at Miss Quine's. On other appointments to Abbeylands Lonan, Ballacowin, Lonan and Laxey, some preachers would be involved in quite a long walk, once they were put down from the trap. Tea was offered on a rota, and mention was made of the memories of the Miss Taylors of Laxey entertaining her father to tea!
When Mr. Davidson was appointed to preach at Crosby - the only chapel at the time with a morning service - they walked along Peel Road to the chapel. Although a train was available; Mr. Davidson did not approve of working on Sundays - so they walked! they would have lunch with a friend at Ballaquinney, then Frances would walk back to Crosby for the Sunday School, back to the friends for ten and then back to Crosby again with her father for the evening service. After the service there would be the walk home again to Douglas.
Every Sunday evening after the service at Victoria Street, they would adjourn to the Redfern Mission (near Osborn's), and the rickety staircase and shabby room seem to have left a sharp memory. Once during a mission in Victoria Street, publicity was given by a torchlight procession, and her father's call - "Come everyone that thirsteth" .
Miss Davidson recalled vividly the Lovefeasts, which were held regularly, although not every Sunday, and were listed on the Plan. The large two-handled mug with water was used along with little wafer biscuits, and those present sought to encourage each other, and build each other up in the faith as they exchanged views. Lovefeasts held at East Baldwin, led by her grandfather, were conducted in Manx. Regular lovefeasts died out about 1914.
Describing a typical Sunday, Miss Davidson said it would start at 10 am with Sunday School, at 10.45 am there was a prayer meeting fort he teachers and missionary collectors, followed by chapel at 11 am. There was nearly always a long sermon, so they wouldn't get out from that till 12.30 pm. (Apparently, Rev. Wilson Steward used to say "We'll sing a hymn now so those who must can go, they I'll finish my sermon! ) Sunday School would meet again at 2.15 pm followed at 3.15 by a teacher's meeting if they had not been held in the morning. Evening service began at 6.30 pm and would be followed by the prayer meeting (which she often found long and boring because it was so repetitive ) .
During the week every evening would be taken up with church activities - Monday, Wesley Guild; Tuesday, Band of Hope; Wednesday Class Meeting; Thursday, another church activity which usually involved tea; Friday, choir practice; Saturday, Band meeting, and united class meeting.
(At the close of Miss Davidson's talk, it was noted that it was 200 years ago that the Deed for Thomas Street was registered - October 1786)
The Society expressed its grateful thanks to Mr. Cowin for the trouble he had taken to make the recording, and to Miss Davidson for her memories .
One has a feeling of regret - what have we lost? Why have we allowed it to disappear? How do we now face the challenge of restoring that sort of fellowship and devotion?


The Spring Rally held at Kirk Michael on 21st March 1987 felt almost like the start of the Revival, with Rev. Eddie Cubbon as the guest speaker, and his subject Primitive Methodism.
In response to the question "why Primitive?" Mr. Cubbon reminded his audience of the great sermons of Paul and Peter recorded in Acts- they were identical because they both went back to the beginning -and so it was with the Primitive Methodists. The Wesleyans were appearing to become "established", but men like Hugh Bourne and William Clowes, who were appalled by the existing social conditions and the fact that there were still so many untouched by the church, sought to reach those folk through Camp Meetings, and were expelled from the church for so doing.
Mr. Cubbon pointed out that the PMs were unique in that this revival sprang from those who were without wealth, learning or prestige, but who had great concern for souls. They were a praying people, and therein lay their strength.
Turning to the Isle of Man, Mr. Cubbon recounted the arrival of John Butcher from the Bolton Circuit in January 1823, landing at Derbyhaven in the south of the Island. Within six months he had been joined by his son, and continued his activities in Douglas and north to Laxey. They encountered very little opposition, and the Manx appreciated the nature of this new Methodism the Butchers brought. The work quickly spread and in the summer of 1823 Henry Sharman joined them. Sharman described Peel as a place noted for its wickedness. At this time the fishing industry was depressed, but Sharman directed them where to fish, with great success, and the fishermen were greatly impressed.
The first Primitive Methodist meeting place in Peel was in the warehouse n Orry Lane, and the first chapel was built in 1833 in Christian Street By this time there were 24 Primitive Methodist chapels on the Island.
In conclusion, Mr. Cubbon said he was humbled by the fervour and devotion of the early Primitive Methodists.
In the conversation which followed, Mr. McFee remarked that his great-grandmother had recalled how when she was very young she remembered Hugh Bourne preaching with his hand before his face. It was Jane Cubbon, another relative of Mr. McFee's who had offered hospitality to John Butcher when he had preached at Colby.
Stories abound of Phil Clucas from Glenmaye - or "Phil Philip" as he was known. He could neither read not write and spoke only Manx, but the power of his preaching was such that many would not go to hear him, knowing they would be unable to resist his word. On one occasion while preaching at Ronague, four drunks appeared; Phil Philip dragged one by the scruff of his neck to the penitent form where he was converted and later became a preacher!
Mr. Cubbon believed the Quayles of Glenmaye were ancestors of his, but could find no evidence, and he recalled also one Tommy Woods who always kneeled on a handkerchief to pray.
After further reminiscences, the meeting closed with the Primitives Marching Hymn - "Hark the gospel song is sounding".


Notes by Mrs. Margaret Kelly
The early birds who arrived at the Round Table for this outdoor meeting were not greeted by the proverbial delicacy, but with a heavy shower of rain. The sunshine brought by the remaining members encouragcd photographers to record a group well prepared with happy smiles, walking sticks, anoraks, stout shoes and rain hats.
The footpath led directly from the Round Table corner in the direction of Glen Rushen, and after about half a mile we came to the first tholtan. This former farm with its considerable out buildings and additions to the original structure was of interest.
Our erudite guide, Mr. Frank Cowin, whose knowledge of history and architecture commands an admiration and respect, has the rare ability to make a scene come alive in the context of its community, both social and historical. Life on the farm and the conditions of the work, could be gleaned as we examined its structure, the horse mill, the living rooms, the pig and poultry house, the goose holes in the hedge.
A slightly sinister undertone appeared when the name of this farm was discussed. It was generally known as "Th 'owld place", but Frank had found its name-stone fallen from the wall and had hidden it in a place of safety, from whence it has disappeared. Mutterings later revealed the name of a likely suspect, but lips are sealed.
Below the farm lay fields which, when worked by the Water Board, had revealed quantities of flint axe-heads, similar to those found at Ronaldsway, confirming a prehistoric life there circa 2000 B. C. Above us on South Barrule were the Celtic fortifications, 20' 0" walls now in ruins, dating back to 600 B.C.
The mine chimneys told their story of a later habitation and industry, and it was of this life that we had come to hear; a life of wealth for a few (whom?), a life of hardship for many, a big community in farm and cottage and mud huts. Of this life, with its social facets of work,education, religion, only one farm still is working - Ballacottier.
A short walk, the path partly on the top of the hedge, brought us to the Chapel, ruined, small and mute. We examined what is left of the simple structure. (Glen Rushen chapel was closed in 1912 ? - ed)
"Will the minister give us a prayer?" said a voice. Rev. Raymond Jowett stepped back into the chapel and we listened, remembering the past in the sunshine of the present. Another voice gave us a hymn,taken up by all. There can be no more emotional sound that that of voices singing solitary in a silent world, joining our faith with that of a long dead and departed community.
We sang "We'll praise Him for all that is past, And trust Him for all that is to come. "
Back to our cars, to Glenmaye Chapel and a welcome and generous tea provided by their ladies.
For those who are unaware of its existence, or for those who have not availed themselves of the interest it provides, few societies offer the variety of talks, excursions, historical research, than does the Manx Methodist Historical Society. It is rich in the knowledge of its leaders who are modestly expert at making every meeting one to remember.
For further information, contact the Secretary, Mrs. Thelma Wilson,Telephone 834450

POSTSCRIPT BY Rev. Fred Costain

Glenmaye Methodist Chapel, modernised some years ago was in 1986 renovated inside and redecorated. It is now beautifully attractive and well cared for by its members. It is also recognised as the sole surviving chapel of the former Peel Primitive Methodist Circuit.
The interior is attractive, but outside it is bewildering and confusing as it bears two dated stones of different dates. The true stone is near the roof above the door, bearing the inscription "Primitive Methodist Chapel 1878" the "rogue" stone is on the wall near the door and is inscribed "1864". Ta shoh son hickyrys thie Yee Gen XXViii 17" (i.e. This is for certainty a house of God) This stone has certainly been a bit of a maverick! Erystain Wesleyan Chapel stood on the hill above Colby, and closed on October 31st 1933. This stone at Glenmaye was on Erystain chapel, but the chapel was privately owned, and part of a local estate. After the chapel became disused it became eventually a derelict ruin, and the stone mysteriously disappeared, to re-appear in the Patrick area. It was later placed on the outside of Patrick (ex Primitive) Methodist Chapel. This chapel, too, has closed (in 1974) and the building became the Village Hall. When it was being cemented, the tablet was fortunately acquired by Mr. David Rushton of Glenmaye. During the 1986 renovations the church council decided, perhaps ill advisedly, to affix it in its present confusing position, instead of indoors! Twice it had adorned chapels which closed. Let us pray that it will remain at Glenmaye for a long time!


- was the phrase used to describe J.R.Corrin when he retired as Chairman of the Electricity Board in 1955. It was not just electric light for which J. R . was responsible - for he was "one of those visionaries who reshaped the Manx political scene", and his vision was inspired by his Christian faith .
James Robinson Corrin was born in 1878 at "The Lhagah", The Level, Colby, and he died there 94 years later, September 21st, 1972. All his life he believed "that this is God's world, and it can be transformed and renewed when man is prepared to adopt God's way of life".

J. R. joined the Primitive Methodists at Croit-e-Caley as a boy and became an accredited local preacher in 1878. He was still preaching almost to the end of his life. His Christian concern took him early into politics - he was a founder member of the Manx Labour Party in1902, having already served as secretary of the Rushen Progressive Association - an organisation which worked for social justice in the Isle of Man, and greater democratic powers for the people. In 1919, the first year of the adult suffrage in the Island, J. R. was elected as one of four Labour MHK's, representing Rushen. Although he was a joiner by trade, it was about this time that he operated a mineral water business at Four Roads (some JR bottles are still in existence), and later he started a building business - some of the houses near his own were built by his firm. Hs workshop is now owned by McArd's in Port Erin- it was there that he built his famous yacht, Maid Marion.

He served the Island in Tynwald for 36 years, and in 1928 was appointed to the Legislative Council. Ile was associated with Town and Country Planning Act, but perhaps his greatest impact was through the Electricity Board, of which he was a member from the time of its formation in 1927, and was its Chairman from 1931-1955. It was in this capacity that he revolutionised life in the rural areas, bringing light and power eventually to all parts of the Island.

He was once asked if there were as many in the chapels now as when he started preaching. "More", he replied. "Sixty or seventy years ago it was not uncommon for whole families to be wiped out by TB because of a hard life, insufficient food, horrible housing conditions", he always warned that it should never be forgotten that political questions had a moral side as well as a material one. (Perhaps his voice need to be heard again to-day).

This gentle giant of Manx history was inspired by the great commandment "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbour as thyself". He felt that so many difficulties and divisions within the church arose from a failure to understand that commandment.

When he died, the House of Keys paid tribute to him with the words "he remained to the last the courteous, courageous and intelligent man it was the privilege of some of us to work with and many of us to know and respect The sterling service he rendered to the Church could only have been achieved by a man of outstanding integrity and devotion . "

"All are architects of fate
Working in these walls of time,
Some with Massive deeds and great
Some with ornaments of rhyme." (Longfellow)


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