[From William Cooper's Castletown]

Queen Street

Cooper's Text Notes by Eva Wilson
  Cooper is less sure of his ground when describing Queen Street.
Beyond the houses immediately off the Parade, it was a pretty rough
area of Castletown, its inhabitants less likely to be known to a
respectable joiner like Cooper.

Landward side, even numbers

On the right was Gell the Butcher's old house and some old
buildings belonging to them. A back entrance to Capt.
Quilliam's house. The two poorhouses. A waste piece of
ground belonging to the poorhouses and, behind the
poorhouses, a large barn, etc. where Mr. W. Kissack kept
his horses. Next to the waste piece of ground is the high
wall of the paddock at the top of the George Hotel lane.
Next to the high wall was a house which was, in my young
days, the Mission Room until they built the hall lower down
on the opposite side. This old house was recessed in from
the high wall and had a water tap on it covered with a
wooden case to which everyone who paid for water had a
In 1954 buildings in this area were finally demolished to make way for
Farrants Way. The George Paddock Car Park now occupies some of
the area described here. Photographs taken before the demolition
shows Gell's house, 4 The Parade. It was a two bay, two-storeyed
building with a partly slate-hung gable to Queen Street. The two
almshouses were at that time in poor condition.
The next house was occupied by a woman named Cowin
who had a patch over her mouth and had a son, Willie, who
went by the name of Willie Peaker. He was a van driver for
T. M. Dodd and on Christmas Eve he had been to Ballasalla
and, coming back, had picked up a woman and her child.
When he turned to make the Iron Bridge he missed it and
drove over into the harbour. He and the child were
drowned but the woman was saved by an Irish sailor on a
boat nearby.
22 Queen Street. This is the first house on the landward side, but this
entry may refer to another house here, now demolished.
22 Queen Street. This is the first house on the landward side, but this
entry may refer to another house here, now demolished.
I cannot say in which houses the people lived lower down.
There were the Bridsons who went by the name of Powley.
There was Jemmy whose widow married Simpson Clucas of
the thatched house opposite, and afterward went to live at
the Three Roads, Ballabeg. I suppose Jemma's name was
James - he had been in the Navy and his wife was English.
John, who worked in the Brewery and whose wife went by
the name of Dolley Mog. Willie who was a fisherman and
was the last coxswain of the Lifeboat. Mary, who was the
third wife of Archie Creggen who was carter for Mr.
There was another Bridson who went by the name of
Jemmy Lucy. He was a member of the Lifeboat crew and
one day the signal went off for a wreck and he rushed out,
half-dressed, and contracted a chill from which he died.
There was another Bridson who went by the name of Dick
Paul. He worked on the streets for the Commissioners.
There was an old soldier named Brown who married a
native, Mary Ann Clague, daughter of a man who went by
the name of Clague the White Horse. Her sister, Margaret
Jane Clague, lived somewhere here too. There were three
houses here belonging to Mr. Bob Clague who had been a
grocer in Arbory Street and lived in one of them. I cannot
say who lived in the other two at that time.
34 Queen Street. Robert Clague, whose butchers' shop was in 5-7
Arbory Street, is recorded living in this house in the 1891 Census. Today
it is the home of Henry Corrin. who was born in the house. Both he and
his father worked for the Brewery, and, when that closed down, Henry
became a popular Castletown binman, now retired.
The next two houses belonged to a widow, Mrs. Jane Lace,
stepmother of Mr. D. Lace, mason, and lived in one herself.
The other was occupied by Mr. T. Kelly, Tucker, for a good
many years. They are now made into one house.
The next two houses were owned by a lame man who was
master at Grenaby School. The first was occupied by Mr.
John Bridson which he sold, and with his niece, Miss
Faragher, he occupied the other when he gave up Grenaby
school. This is still occupied by his niece.
44-46 Queen Street now Dubbey Mooar
The next house belonged to Knockrushen. The first tenant I
remember was a Mrs. Keig and her son, Dick, and then Mr.
W. Bridson, fisherman, after him. Mr. H. Ryland, an old
soldier who married a Miss Clague and stayed here after his
discharge was coachman at Bridge House after Mr. Cannell
left to take up the farm and he stayed until Miss Quayle got
the motor-car. Since his widow died and her daughter gave
up the house, it has been empty. It is in a bad state of repair.
The next house was, I think, occupied by Mr.Thomas
Clague who went by the name of Clague Tanner. He
worked for Mr. T. H. Dodd and after he built Cronk-my-
Chree, Clague moved to the Redgap. Mr. Ryland's wife
was his sister.
I cannot say who lived in the next two, but the next was Mr.
Abraham Champion's of whom I have told you. It was
afterwards occupied by Mr. James Clague, plumber at the
In another context, Cooper describes Abraham Champion as a political
refugee from France who always wore a velveteen waistcoat. He did a
little farming with his sons until they were old enough to move away. He
also had a small garden at Red Gap.
The next was occupied by a son, James Radcliffe, baker
with Kermode. The owner, Mr. Radcliffe, who was
gardener in Westwood after Mr. E. Clague. A[another] son
was a miner who worked at Langness mine and [the house]
was slated by him - it had been thatched. He also raised it.
This was an ill-fated family. The father, three daughters and
two sons died of consumption but the mother lived to a
good age. After her death the house was sold and bought by
Mr. Holmes, baker, whose son now lived in it. Old Mr.
Radcliffe's daughter married a Mr. John Radcliffe (no
relation) who came here as a carter to Mr. T. Quilliam,
stonecutter. He was gardener at Westwood after his father-
in-law until Mrs. Hawkins died about 60 years ago, when he
started farming.
58 Queen Street now Eastfield.
Then there was a space where there had been an old house
at one time, and then the last house on this side which was
occupied by an old man named Billy Quine and his wife.
The roof of this house vas only about 18" above the level of
the Flatt and children used to run up and down on it which
toyed Billy, and woe betide them if he caught them.
After their deaths it was occupied by their niece who went
by the name of Maggie Pat - her name was Patterson. After
she died it was sold and bought by Mr. Holmes, baker, who
pulled it down and built the present house.
60 Queen Street, now Seabreeze.

Seaward side, odd numbers

For the people who lived on this side of Queen Street we can draw on
another source; William Clague Wilson was born in 13 Queen Street in
1900 and lived in Queen Street until the early 1930s. Before he died in
1999, I had the pleasure of talking to him; some information from our
taped conversations will be quoted here.
I have also received notes from William C. 'Billie' Oates about his
father, John William, 'Willie', Oates, born in 7 Queen Street in 1895, son
of Robert C., 'Bob', Oates, joiner. When Billie grew up the family lived in
3 Queen Street.
On the left was a warehouse owned by Mr. Dodd. It was
the joiner's shop of Mr. James Blackburn and after him the
shop of Mr. R. C. Oates, joiner, whose son George now has
Wilson remembers: 'At the back of the church there was a large garden,
which we called the Big Yard. This was where Mr Stowell, who lived at no 1
Queen Street and was a painter and decorator, kept his stock of materials
and so on. Adjoining that was another building which was a joiners shop
run by Mr Bob Oates. The curious thing about this building was that as you
went in you were actually walking on top of Fitches Rocks. The wooden
floor of the shop commenced a further five yards from the entrance.'
The area behind the former St Mary's Church, now offices, is laid out
as a car park. The joiner's workshop is now also offices, The
The lane here is called the Chapel Gut and leads to steps
going down to the shore. The first house was the shop and
house of Mr. Flaxney Stowell, painter, and is still occupied
by his son, Dick. The next was occupied by a Mr. E.
Quayle, retired farmer from Kerrowkiel - his son, John
Edward, was a clerk in the Rolls Office and moved to
Douglas. He was a bit of a musician and is still living in
Douglas. It was also occupied by a Mr. Mylrea who married
a daughter of Mr. Quayle Stowell and had a corn store on
the Bank. He had a brother, Philip Mylrea, who had a class
for older boys on Sunday afternoons in the Preachers'
Vestry, Wesleyan Chapel. This was before the chapel was
altered. I was one of the boys. He afterwards emigrated to
the U.S.A.
1-5 Queen Street Demolished in 2000 to make way for development.
A large building now fills the site. It is at present time unfinished and its
final use unsettled. There was originally a terrace of three quite
substantial, three-storeyed houses, (no. 1 at some time named Mont
Sarras). Mr. 'Billie' Oates grew up in number 3. His father, John William
'Willie' Oates, the son of Bob Oates, worked for Flaxney Stowell as sign-
writer and calligrapher.
The site, where the present brick-faced houses are, was the
house and garden of Mr. Jack Callow, skipper of the
schooner, Mona, which was lost with all hands coming back
from the Baltic. This house faced Scarlett with the gable to
the road and with a small garden in front of it. Mr. Callow's
three daughters afterwards moved to Parliament Square.
7.9 Queen Street. Flaxney Stowell writes 15: 'A famous house in Queen
Street was known as the 'Court House', where Hal Maddrell Matthew
lived. When anything of importance had occurred the Queen Street men
met on Sunday afternoons at the Court House to discuss it - in summer
at the gable end, and in the cold weather at Hal's fireside. Beside
current events, they would talk of the Bible, and of their Island's
Government. Or even of ghost stories and superstitions, handed down
from father to son by word of mouth.
The Callow family is listed here in the 1891 Census, but Wilson
remembers the two present houses in the first decade of the twentieth
century. Mr. Oates, joiner, lived in no. 7 and Dickie Duke, fisherman, and
family, moved from the Quay to live in no. 9. Their pretty daughter Sheila
married Arthur Cooper, the nephew of the author of our manuscript.
The next, a small house, was occupied by a Mrs. McGill
who kept a marine store and we lads, if we wanted money
for any purpose, used to gather any old metal, bones, rags
etc, and sell them to her. At this time the ashpits were
emptied on to the fields. Several of the next houses
belonged to Mrs. Taggart, Mona House, and were sold after
her death. Most of them were bought by the tenants. One
was occupied by Mrs. Bridson, widow of Dick Paul, and
her three daughters.
11 Queen Street. Wilson remembers Mr. Charles Corkill, Coroner, and
family here. They moved later to 61 Arbory Street.
The next was owned and occupied by Mrs. Wilson, a
widow, whose husband was drowned at sea. Her son,
Willie, a mason, came back from England where he had
worked for some years, and he still lives in it.
13 Queen Street. William Clague Wilson was born here in 1900. His
father, William James, 'Willy', mason, lived here from 1874 when his
mother. Elizabeth Wilson, née Clague, bought the house. His mother
was Christian Catherine Bridson. They only had the one child - unusual
for that time - and were ambitious for him. After attending Victoria Road
School he was the only boy in his year to go to Park Road Secondary
School in Douglas. I have been told that he went by the name of Willie
Big Word. His father lived here until 1957, when he moved to Douglas
to live with his son and family and where he died at the age of 90.
Of the others I cannot say, but Mr. Taubman, a hunchback,
who worked on the streets before the Commissioners came
into being, lived in one. His son, Jack, who was a seaman, a
widow Mrs. Gale and her son Tom, a Mrs. Carr and her son,
who was butcher to old Mr. Gell at the old slaughter-house,
a widow and daughter who cleaned St. Mary's Church.
15 Queen Street. Wilson remembers: 'When I was very young it was
occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Carr. Then it was empty for a time and I
remember a married couple arriving one summer evening with a horse
and landau, which was a very rare sight in those days, and they got out
and took possession of the house. They were Mr and Mrs Cringle - the
grandparents of John Cringle, who now lives in no. 27.' The house
remained in the Cringle family until 1966.
Wilson's father bought 19 Queen Street for £65. When Wilson married
he and his wife lived here from 1928 to 1932, when they moved to
Douglas. The house was sold in 1954 for £425, and in 1990 for £56,000.
John Sansbury and his wife - he worked as a farmhand at
Mr. Faragher's Scarlett and had one leg shorter than the
other and had an iron ring fastened to his boot to make up
the difference. On a muddy day you could tell that he had
been on the road by the impression. He had three sons, two
of whom, Charlie and John, often worked as butchers for
Mr. Robert Clague. One day Mr. Clague sent them with a
rum puncheon to be cut into two to make cooler to wash the
sheep in. I told them to put a couple of kettles of boiling
water into it and leave for a time and then pour out into new
buckets which they had, and they did so. When Mr. Clague
arrives at Scarlett later to see how they were getting on with
the washing he found them helpless and not a sheep
washed. After their parents died the two sons lived in it, but
it got into a bad state of repair and the Commissioners
pulled the roof off it, so they slept in barns or any place they
could find to sleep in. John was found dead in the loft at
Pooillvaaish. Bob the elder son joined the Navy and got to
be Petty Officer and returned here when discharged.
25 Queen Street. He married the girl next door, Maggie Bridson, whose
sister, Sarah, married Frank Cringle, whose arrival at 15 Queen Street
as newlyweds is described by Wilson. 27 Queen Street, left jointly to the
two sisters, remain in the Cringle Family 16
  29-31 Queen Street. No 29 is now the integrated garage to no 31, the
building renovated and rebuilt in 1974 by Mr and Mrs Orr.
There was Jem Condon, a labourer, a very tidy man but
rather fond of drink. He was found one morning dead out-
side the Castle Arms and at the inquest it was found that he
had fallen and that no one had hit him. When I was
preparing to put the lid on the coffin his sister came into the
room and started to cry "Oh, my poor brother, my poor
brother!" and his widow chipped in on the other side of the
room "Nobody hit him, nobody hit him".
There was also a family named Lewin - I have heard my
father talking about a row in the house and one of them
being thrown downstairs.
There was also George Clague, foreman quarrier at Scarlett
Quarry. The men at the Quarry went on strike for shorter
hours on Saturday afternoon and he went with the men, so
Mr. Kissack paid him off and made John Cornish foreman.
He afterwards worked as a jobbing gardener.
Wilson remembers Mr Kissack, the quarry owner. He gave a pair of new
boots or shoes at Christmas to every child in Derbyhaven where he
Then came Mr. Gell's old slaughterhouse, etc. The
slaughter was open to the street and the killing was visible
to anyone passing. He later removed the slaughterhouse to
another at the Grammar School.
The next was the old thatched cottage occupied by Simpson
Clucas the cobbler who later married the widow of Jemma
Bridson and moved to the Three Roads, Ballabeg.
Then there was the lane leading to the shore. The next lane
- there was the house occupied by Bill Callow, coxswain of
the lifeboat, the first I remember. He went blind and used
to sit on a seat at the new harbour with another man and
they passed the time singing hymns.
I do not remember who lived in the next house, but the next
was occupied by James Kelly who worked for my father as
a labourer. He got a job as stoker at the Gas works later,
which he kept for a good many years and went by the name
of Kelly the Gas. His daughters still live in the house. Miss
Eliza Clark lived in one of the houses here until she
removed to Chapel Lane.
The last house on this side was called Dicka Kelly's house.
I do not remember anyone living in it, it was always empty
in my time and is now a ruin. He had a daughter called
Julia and one of my sisters was called after her.
The Band Room. Cooper does not mention the Queen Street Mission
Room. The mission was established in 1880. The land on which it stands
was originally a gift from Thomas Champion of 'Somerville', Cronkbourne
Road, Douglas. The land was 'to be used as part of the site of an un-
sectarian Protestant and Evangelical Mission Room for religious,
temperance, charitable and social meetings'. There was at that time a
great concern for the morals, lifestyle and, in particular the drinking habits
of the poor. The trustees represented the three churches in Castletown in
equal numbers, that is, the Anglicans, and the two Methodist churches, the
Wesleyans and the Primitive.
The property on the site had been occupied by the late Edward Clague,
father of Robert Clague, butcher of Arbory Street. The hall was opened
in 1896. Over the years more land was added to the site and by public
subscription the hall was renovated and reopened in 1928. The building
remains in trust but the Room has been leased to the Castletown
Metropolitan Silver Band since 1954.
Other people I remember living in Queen Street, but cannot
say in which house, were: David Magill, an old soldier of
the Indian Army who was Bellman and acted as coalporter,
etc. He also went around on Christmas calling "Good
morning, Mr. So and so. Good morning, Mrs. so and so.
Good morning the little so and so's. Fine starry morning
(or whatever it was), half past two o'clock. All's well".
A man called Bully Shimmin, also called Dogs, and the
boys used to start barking when they saw him; his wife was
called Belle Veg and they had a daughter, Maggie, who
married a soldier named Wheeler.
Kelly Jemcocks, a painter, father of Tommy Kelly, Tucker,
who used to tell me that his father took on jobs of painting
farm buildings all over the island and that his father and the
boys, he had five or six sons. They would start off Monday
morning with their tools and provisions and stay the week,
sleeping in the barns and returning again on the Saturday.
There was a ship lost at Scarlett - she was laden with flour
and the bags were floating in and Kelly could not wait until
they landed but jumped into the sea after them and got a
chill of which he died. I remember him walking around the
Flatt looking very miserable.
Capt. John Clucas of the schooner Progress. He had three
sons who went to sea. There were also the Quayles, James
and George. James was called Mucker George Deordie
(Geordie?). They went to the mackerel and herring fishing
and in the winter worked for farmers or any other job they
could get. James was a bit of a pig and the name of Mucker
suited him. I have seen him in the Flatt after he came back
from Kinsale and was paid off, spending all his earnings on
drink and his mother trying to get some money from him.
He would knock her down as often as she ran after him
begging for money. He and another man named Clucas
were in the Crown Arms on the Quay, drinking and arguing
about boat sailing, and they went out and took out an old
cranky boat to settle the argument. There was a good breeze
of wind and when they got outside the pier head the boat
capsized and they were both drowned. Clucas's body was
recovered at the time, Quayle's a day or two later. Clucas
lived in Queen St. with his mother and was no connection to
Capt. Clucas. George ended in the Poorhouse.
There was also a man called Clague the Cooper - I suppose
he worked at the Brewery. Another Clague went by Clague
Nailer. I remember him splitting plaster laths in the timber
yard mill. The caulks were cut to the required length and
then he split them into blocks which he then split into the
width of the lath and then split the inners of the lath. He
used a sort of mallet and things like large cleavers. He used
to tell me that he went to school to my grandfather, who
kept a small school after he was discharged from the army.
Several other old men told me the same.
There were also several old women, Kitty Hurragh, that is
what she went by - Kitty Hunter and her two daughters.
Kitty and Eunice. In the cheap coffins of those days they
put a bunch of shavings under the head for a pillow and she
used to tell my brother that he was not to put shavings
under her head.
Another old woman went by the name of Sandy Leeks. I do
not know her right name. She was a little woman and used
to go to Mr. Cudd's every morning to beg. There was a by-
law made that there was to be no begging from door to door
and the first Monday she went to Mr. Cudd's as usual after
the by-law, she was spotted by P. C. Clarke who arrested
her. There was a lot of screaming in the street and on
looking out of the window we saw Clarke who was a tall
man carrying her under his arm down to the Police Station.
There was William Cubbon who went by Billy Darks. a
little dark man who was said to have climbed the Castle
flagstaff and stood on the direction arms.
In the Poorhouse were the Cubbon family who went by the
name of Wipes. Jack Wipes the father, Sarah Wipes the
daughter who had two sons and two daughters, all more or
less weak-minded. The younger son, the only surviving. is
in the Mental Hospital.
There were two houses standing by themselves which were
made into one and an addition put to by a Mr. Scott-
Deacon. One was occupied by a James Radcliffe. labourer.
who was called Jimmy Sore-Eyes. The other was occupied
by Tommy Kelly Tucker until he moved higher up the
street. Tommy had the house painted and decorated to his
own taste and when he left he daubed it over with old paint
saying he was not going to leave the decorations for the
next tenant.
The day of the wreck of the Helene at Scarlett, the sea was
washing around these houses and at that time there was
only about a yard from the house to the top of the beach,
but now there is a small garden, the ground being made up
by rubbish tipped there. There was also a well with the
pump at the gable, the well being in the shingle. The ground
behind this house and Dicka Kelly's has also been made up
with rubbish deposited, as in my young days the beach
came nearly up to the road.
Another Queen Street character was Pollie Bridson,
otherwise Bob Mutchey who lived in the Poorhouse. He was
the mascot of the Band and the Football Team and always
went with them to engagements. He acted the fool but was
not so foolish as he pretended to be.
It has been said that more lives were lost in the First World War from
Queen Street than from any other street in the whole of Britain.
There is a beautifully designed Roll of Honour for Queen Street in the
Legion Hall, Janets Comer, better known as the Old Pavillion.17
The number of those who served is a staggering fifty-four; eight are
underlined, to indicate that they are the fallen.
They are: Robert Charles, Christian, 31 Queen Street; Francis J.
Hudson, 48 Queen Street; George Henry Kelly and George Lace, 48
Queen Street; Thomas Hay McGrattan; Robert Ernest Quine, 45 Queen
Street; James Smith, 17 Queen Street and Henry J. Taubman.


15 Stowell. Flaxney, 1902,Castletown a hundred years ago,Douglas, Cubbon and Lightfoot.

16 I am very grateful to John Cringle for information on his family.

17 I am very grateful to Peter Hill-Heaton of 57 Queen Street for providing this and much other useful information.

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