[From Manx Quarterly #13 1913]
[Opening of Villa Marina Kursaal]
SUPPER IN THE KURSAAL RESTAURANT.
The Mayor and Town Council of Douglas entertained the English, Irish, and Scottish journalists who had come to Douglas for the purpose of describing the ceremony of opening the Kursaal, to supper in the fine cafe attached to the great hall, on Friday of last week. Presiding at the supper was the Mayor (Alderman Corlett, J.P.), and he had on his right the Lieut.-Governor, and on his left the Speaker of the House of Keys. The Earl of Bessborough was also present. Among the newspapers represented on the occasion were the following:-
" The Times " (London), " Daily Telegraph," " Morning Post," " Standard," " Daily Mail," "Daily Graphic," "Daily Chronicle," " Daily Express," " Daily News and Leader," " Daily Mirror," "Daily Sketch," "Westminster Gazette,"" Pall Mall Gazette," " Evening Standard," " Evening News," " Referee," " Observer," " Sunday Times," " Bystander," " Illustrated London News," " World," " Lady's Pictorial," "London Opinion," " Pelican," " New York Herald," " Municipal Journal," " Local Government Chronicle," "Liverpool Daily Post," " Liverpool Courier," " Manchester Guardian," " Manchester Courier," " Daily Dispatch," " Bradford Daily Telegraph," " Yorkshire Observer," " Newcastle Daily Chronicle," " Sheffield Independent," " Sphere," " Tatler," " Graphic," " Sketch," " Sheffield Daily Telegraph," " Leeds Mercury," " Yorkshire Post," " Nottingham Guardian," "Dundee Advertiser," "Aberdeen Free Press," " Irish Times " (Dublin), " Irish Independent" (Dublin), " Freeman's Journal " (Dublin), " Dublin Evening Herald," " Irish Daily Telegraph " (Belfast), " Evening Telegraph," " Glasgow News," " Glasgow Evening Times," etc. Several of these newspapers were represented by lady journalists, but the stern sex had a majority.
The catering was in the hands of the manageress of the Cafe; and Mr J. Ritchie, Isle of Man Steam Packet Co., and Mr M. Wilson, caterer, rendered valuable assistance. The arrangements were admirable in themselves, and were admirably carried out. An excellent supper was served, the following being the menu :-
Mayonaise of Salmon. Lobster Salad. Roast Ribs of
Beef. Pressed Beef. York Ham. Tongue.
Roast Lamb. Mint Sauce. Boiled Chicken.
Roast Duckling. Apple Sauce. Salads.
Tarts (Raspberry and Cherry). Devonshire Junket and Cream. Jellies.
Petit Fours. Ices.
Hock. Moselle. Champagne. Minerals. Coffee.
The repast was done full justice to, and at its conclusion, Miss Alice Lilley, Miss Lois Barker, Miss Grace Ivell, and Mr Frederic Gregory, of the Douglas Head Concert Party, sang well. At about ten o'clock the enjoyable post-prandial proceedings opened with the toast of "The King," which was given by the Mayor, and was loyally honoured.
In proposing the toast of " The, Lieut.-Governor," the Mayor said that all Manxmen were proud of their Home Rule, and also of their Governor, who, as they knew, took such a deep interest in local and Insular affairs.
The toast was received with musical honours, and cheers were given for Lord and Lady Raglan.
The Governor, in responding, thanked the company for the manner in which they had received the toast, and remarked that as short speeches were to be the order of the evening, he had been deprived of speaking for an hour or two on the interesting building they had just seen (laughter). The orders of the Mayor were imperative, especially in Villa Marina, so he had to obey them without question (laughter). He would not say anything about Villa Marina, as he would have to speak about it the following afternoon. As for the guests, the Mayor would say something about them directly. He again thanked them for the exceedingly kind way in which they had drunk his health (applause).
The Mayor said he had now to submit to them the toast of the evening-" Our Guests." They were delighted to have as their guests on this occasion the representatives of the Press. They were going to do something that he felt sure would interest the British public, especially that section who were contemplating a holiday, and they were desirous to let them know what they were doing and the attractions that the Isle of Man afforded. He did not know of any body of gentlemen who could do this better than the representatives of the Press. Some of the gentlemen present would feel like the tourist who had got off the beaten track, and begin to wonder where they were. The Island was but a rock in the ocean that was thirty miles by twelve, and, according to a Blue Book recently published, contained 1433 thousand acres. Its position gave it a climate of an even character-not too severe in winter and not too oppressive in summer. As a health resort it was not inferior to any place in the South of Europe. The Island was rich in ancient ruins, and the ocean storms had helped its beauty and grandeur. It had a form of government that was of great antiquity; in fact, he did not know of any place that was more ideal for a holiday than the Isle of Man (applause). He hoped their guests on this occasion would combine business with pleasure, and thus judge for themselves.
The toast was received with musical honours.
Mr J. A. Jones, representing the London "Times," briefly responded. They were aware, he said, of the popularity of the Isle of Man with holiday-makers, and he wished to offer his congratulations on their bid for further support.
Mr P. Cornelius, representative of the '` Daily Telegraph," submitted the toast of " The Mayor and Corporation." Having, he remarked, overcome the dangers of the deep, he, within a short time, found himself called upon to face the terrors of a speech (laughter). It was always the custom to substantiate any facts before giving them expression, so on learning that he had to propose this toast, he thought he would make inquiries about the Mayor and Corporation. He approached a man in the street and also a policeman-(laughter)-and both expressed the opinion that the Mayor was an excellent fellow, and that the Corporation were the same. Those who were their guests had already seen sufficient to justify that opinion. In asking his colleagues to acknowledge the toast, he wished to couple with it the Mayor and Alderman Craine.
The toast was enthusiastically honoured by the visitors.
The Mayor thanked the guests for the way in which they had received the toast, and remarked that Douglas was inhabited by 22,000 people. From now to the end of the season that number would be increased from twenty-five to fifty thou sand visitors. Douglas had had its local board for at least fifty years, and had been incorporated seventeen years. The number of visitors to the Island had increased at a rapid rate, and not very long ago someone said it was possible for half a million visitors to come to the Island in one year. At that time such a statement was ridiculed and almost laughed at. Well, that number had been exceeded. The Douglas Corporation had made great strides in catering for the wants of the visitors in the way of street improvements and in other ways. The water undertaking today stood in their books at something like £300,000, and only a few years ago £100,000 was spent upon the town's sewerage system. And they claimed today that Douglas had attractions to offer that were second to none in the United Kingdom (applause).
Alderman Craine said his advice to those present was to spend as much time in the country as they possibly could in order to see its beauties. If they could, they should endeavour to extend their holiday. He advised them all to go home in good time, for the Island was small and they might step over the side (laughter).
Before the guests dispersed, the Town Clerk informed them that through the courtesy of the managers of the Isle of Man Railway Co. and the Manx Electric Railway Co., an excursion had been arranged to Ramsey, Snaefell, and Peel for Sunday. Lady Goldie-Taubman and Mr Leigh Goldie-Taubman had intimated that they would be pleased to receive any of the guests at the Nunnery.
The proceedings concluded with the singing of the National Anthem.
The speeches during the evening were agreeably interspersed with musical items rendered most acceptably by the Douglas Head Concert Party. Miss Alice Lilley sang "Who'll come a-Maying?"; Miss Grace Ivell charmed with "Fairy Waters" (Haydn Wood), and being encored, gave a most expressive interpretation of " The Rosary " ; Mr Frederic Gregory gave " The Grenadier "; Mr Percy Tarling contributed a humorous interlude of story and song, his yarns creating roars of laughter; and the Concert Party in combination sang " Pucker up your lips, Miss Lindy " and " Hitchy-Koo." Altogether, the symposium was an exceedingly pleasant one
Over sixty of the British journalists, accompanied by the Mayor (Mr Alderman Corlett), Mr A. Robertson (Town Clerk), Mr T. Stowell (manager of the Isle of Man Railways), Mr F. Edmondson (manager of the Manx Electric Railways), and several of the Douglas Town Councillors and others, had a most enjoyable excursion on Sunday. Starting at 10-30 a.m., a special car conveyed the party from Derby Castle to Laxey and Snaefell Mountain. The view from the summit was a fine one, as the day was clear. On return to Laxey, cars were changed, and the party were taken on to Ramsey through the beautiful scenery of Maughold, including the lovely glens of Dhoon, Mona, and Ballaglass. Ramsey reached, the fine expanse of open bay was greatly admired, and dinner was enjoyed at the Mitre Hotel. At half-past two, a special train conveyed the party to Peel, by way of St. John's. Peel Castle was visited, the custodian (Mr W. A. Kelly) courteously and interestingly relating the legends and history of the famous pile. Mrs Laughton, president of the World Manx Association, expected and was prepared to receive the guests at her beautiful residence at Ballaquane, but time did not permit of the visit being paid, and at 4-30 the special train was again boarded, Douglas being reached at 5-30, when the party separated, having greatly enjoyed the run through the Northern half of the Island. Mr Stowell and Mr Edmondson were heartily thanked for their kindness and personal attention.
The party were reluctantly compelled to forego Mr Leigh Goldie-Taulunan's and Lady Goldie-Taubman's invitation to visit the beautiful Nunnery Grounds, which, had time permitted, would have been greatly enjoyed.