Manx Methodist Historical Society - Newsletter 20


Tom Cashin.

It is with a sense of shock and with deepest regret that we have to record the death of one of our Committee members - Mr. Tom Cashin.

His contributions to the life of this Society are the result of his tremendous enthusiasm for Manx Methodist history. He had begun the task of recording on tape interviews with some of the older members of our Methodist community, a wonderful way of holding for the future not only the events of the past, but the dialect also. We shall miss him enormously, and extend to Mrs. Cashin and the family our deepest sympathy.

I am grateful to Rev. Kenneth Britain for the following record of Tom's life:
Though born and brought up in Peel, his home and his life have been centred in Michael, yet he was not ''parochial''. His involvement in Education and the Antiquarians and the Manx Methodist Historical Society have made him known to many around the Island. After his retirement he delighted in being able to travel to visit family and to experience life in USA He would speak of what he had seen there in the same fair minded and accurate manner with which he talked of some Island locality.

His fascination with the past did not detract from his commitment to the present. As well as being involved in a any local organisations, he was a regular worshipper member of the Methodist Church at Barregarrrow, and serving as Church treasurer. He also shared in the activities at Michael Methodist Church, and was Circuit Secretary for Education and Youth for many years. We are all thankful for Tom Cashin - a strong but gentle man whom we respect and who enriched so many lives.'

September, 1903 -

Manx Wesleyan Synod

The September Synod of the Isle of Man Wesleyan District was held on Wednesday, at Victoria Street church. The Rev. Sidney Pitt presided, and there was a good attendance from all parts of the Island, both ministers and laymen .

(The Synod then discussed Home Missions, Foreign Missions, Bible Sunday)...

"Temperance affairs then occupied the attention of the Synod, the following resolution being passed after the election of the committee:— That the Synod is of the opinion that the number of licensed houses for the sale of intoxicating liquor is far in excess of any supposed legitimate requirements of the people, and that the promiscuous licensing of Braddan houses is a crying national scandal . This Synod declares its strong conviction that legislation is urgently needed for the reduction of the number of licenses in the Island upon a large scale. The Synod is also of the opinion that the system of employing women to serve in public houses is highly mischievous and fraught with great perils not only to those employed, but to the whole community. That a copy of this resolution be sent to his Excellency Lord Raglan, the four High Bailiffs, and the members of the Insular Legislature.

The resolution, moved by Rev. H. Mudie Draper, and seconded by Mr . W. T . Crennell , H.K , was carried unanimously"

Sounds familiar ?


The Society’s meeting last September, was held at St. John ‘s Methodist Church when the speaker was Canon Hinton Bird.

In his address, Canon Bird referred to the two prongs of the subject - ie education as such, springing from the 1660's when Bishop Barrow considered that everybody should go to school , and the Sunday School movement which emerged from Robert Raikes’ concern that children should be taught to read , over 200 years ago.

These early Sunday Schools were hard work, when children were kept occupied from 8 .0 am to 7.0 pm, and the first Sunday School to be established in Douglas was in 1786 with a timetable of 8.0 am to 11.0 am, with a break for church , then 2.0pm to 8 .0pm with a short break for prayers . Even in those early days, concern was expressed that for children who were already working long days in the factories, this was too much for them.

At that time too, teachers were paid for their work, but this was discontinued from about 1800 when it was considered that they should give their time freely.

Another start was made to establish Sunday Schools in 1802 , at Thomas Street in Douglas, and in Castletown, but both faded. In 1808 the Vicar of Lonan, Rev. Hugh Stowell , started a Sunday School which did not die, and was soon being copied all over the Island, so that by 1815 there were 982 Sunday School char, and in 1818 15 new Sunday schools were established, with a total of 2390 scholars.

It was about 1809 when the Liverpool Tract society were sending books written in in the Manx language for the first tine for children, but this did not last - and it has to be said that John Wesley was not a friend of the Manx language at all.

The Wesleyan Methodists ware keen on the provision of libraries, and in 1850 , Castletown had 400 volumes that could be borrowed.

Financial support for the Sunday Schools came from the payment of fees and the annual Charity Sermon. In the 1820’s Castletown Wesleyans raised £24 for their Sunday School, while Jurby raised £1.

It was during the 1830’s that Rev. Robert Aitken sought to establish a school at Eyreton ( Greeba) similar to that established by Wesley at Kingswood, but without any permanent success.

In 1837 the Methodist Conference decided to establish day Schools , and in the 1840's the Primitive Methodists founded a school in the Island, at Factory Lane off Wellington Street. This was a very rare thing to happen, and the school did not survive for long, although it did re-emerge a generation later as the first Board School.

In 1843. the Wesleyans started a day school which was centred on Well Road and Thomas Street - the boys at the former, and the girls at the latter.

During the 1850's a day school was started at Abbeylands, and in 1861 at Peel.

The Education Act of 1872 brought many problem for the denominational schools when education s made compulsory. Although by this tine many of the children were already in school, the fact that schooling now provided on the rates was a tremendous challenge.

A problem also arose about what to do with the ‘raged children’ who were not wanted by anyone indeed the Wesleyans are recorded as saying that to accept these children would be "injurious to the school and an embarrassment to its managers". The denominational schools were also faced with the problem of maintaining their schools to the standard required by the government standards - standards which were always changing, so that, for instance, the new school built in Peel in 1840 was considered substandard in 1860 . The alterations made at that time to comply with the standards set were then no good in 1878 . In the 1880's the Inspector’s report was not at all kind to the Douglas schools - saying that Thomas Street was unfit to be a school , Well Road was condemned as being unhealthy, and Atholl Street as too primitive because toilet refuse had to be carried through the school for disposal . It made no difference that the managers argued that this was not done while the children were there!

In the Isle of Man grants were not given to denominational schools , as in England , and gradually the situation became untenable, with the schools succumbing to the pressures and closing, so that by the turn of the century only the Clothworkers School in Peel remained. In 1904 it came under the jurisdiction of the Board of Education.

As he drew his address to a close, Canon Bird lamented the decline of the Sunday Schools - during this century, and hoped that would be guided by the inspiration of the past to approach the task today with their dedication and faith.

(This report is an abbreviated account of Canon Bird’s address. With his permission, Canon Bird’s address was tape-recorded , and is available from the Rev. Fred Costain Memorial Library in the Promenade Church, Douglas.)

Annual General Meeting

After the business of the AGM had been it was planned that Sister Beryl Bonwick should speak about the work of the National Children's Home on the Isle of Man. Unfortunately, family concerns meant that Sister Beryl had to be off the Island, so her speech was read for her by the President, Rev.Kenneth Britton.

Sister Beryl recalled first, the beginnings of the Organisation, with the concern of Rev. Thomas Bowman Stephenson to help the thousands of homeless children in London; and the fact that his plan of action to help the children was frowned upon by the hierarchy of the Methodist Church.

Mr. Stephenson persisted however, and his first home opened in 1869 , with two small boys being admitted.

The work in the Isle of Man began in 1880 . A certain Miss Gibson had been running a Children’s Home in Ramsey, especially for Island children, known as The Suzanna Gibson Refuge for Destitute Children. Before she died in 1880 , she asked that the Home become affiliate to Dr. Stephenson’s and so NCH in the Isle of Man was born the fiftieth branch to be established. Because of its situation surrounded by bracing air and sea breezes, Dr. Stephenson felt that this home should be used for those with failing health, and children were sent to the Island with great expectations of what the Isle of Man could do. Many returned to England as strong and healthy youngsters, but sadly, some did not make it. One little girl was one of a family of eleven ten of who had died. Little Meg also died of tuberculosis all the love and care she received on the Island could not save her and she died eleven months after her arrival . A kindly Ramsey friend gave £20 for her burial and headstone in Lezayre churchyard.

There were always difficulties running the Home, which soon removed to Ballacloan, and the records indicate such incidents as when the food ran cut, and the children and staff prayed. A little later there was a knock at the door, and a local farmer delivered a sack of potatoes.

In order to raise funds to ease their situation, they decided to offer public baths , but since no-one in the town was prepared to admit they needed a bath, that idea did not last long.

It was not long before Dr. Stephenson realised he needed training for the young men and women caring for the children, and later set up the Sisters of the Children, a trained body of women who cared for the children for over 100 years.

The work continued to develop nationally, and by the time the NCH celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, it was caring for 3,000 children in 20 homes, and over 14,000 children had passed through their hands.

Sister Beryl illustrated how, over the years, the nature of the work has changed with changing demands in society, and today projects vary from Family Centres to Community based schemes for Young Offenders ; from Child Sexual Abuse Treatment Centres to work with children with disabilities.

NCH set up the first Family Centre in the Isle of Man. "Bonwick House Neighbourhood Family Centre" today continues to project the NCH tradition of caring for children and their families, giving every child its right to love, care and understanding, to help it reach its full potential, as does Cumnal Shee in Douglas.

Sister Beryl's talk ended with the reminder that NCH in Action still upholds the Christian way of life , seeking to save those who are lost and letting know - we care.


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