[From William Cooper's Castletown]

The Crofts

Cooper's Text Notes by Eva Wilson

Crofts - Part of 1868 plan of Castletown
Part of 1868 plan of Castletown - the Crofts ran SSW to NNE

The same area in 1833 from Wood's Plan



The Crofts was the first area to be settled out of the town proper. The
Lord's Garden, which belonged to the Governor, was sold to Thomas
, architect, in 1835 and Elderbank, Westwood and Crofton were
built on the land shortly afterwards. The land to the west, known as
'Doctor's Field', was sold off in plots as building land in 1845.
In our manuscript, Cooper only lists the names of the people he
remembers living in the Crofts. In the manuscript held by David
Collister, however, Cooper goes into more, and interesting, detail. In
this section, therefore, the text comes from a transcript of Book 2, in the
collection Them were the Days (See the Introduction p.3).
Cooper treats Elderbank with Arbory Street. The entrance is now in the
Crofts. The main house, is now an imposing tree-bay, two-storeyed
building with an elaborate pillared porch below a three-storeyed outshot
with a broken pediment. Originally rendered, it was stripped in the 1970s.
Three generations of the Stowell family in Castletown lived here and all
three carried the name Flaxney. There was Flaxney Stowell, Builder and
Contractor, who built Elderbank for himself and his wife, Catherine, in
about 1839. Flaxney Stowell, Painter and Decorator, son of Quayley
Stowell, painter. He lived at 3 Queen Street before coming to live here.
Their son, also Flaxney, died in 1944, when, Cooper says, his widow
sold the house.
In the 1960s and 70s Dr. Jackson lived here before building a house
for himself further down the Crofts on the opposite side.
On the right hand side from Arbory Street, Westwood. The
first occupiers I remember were Mrs. Woods, stepmother of
Mr. W. B. Stevenson, and her daughter, Mrs Hawkins, a
widow. My father used to say that this was the first house
built on the Arbory Street end of the Crofts, so it must be
over a hundred years.
Mrs. Hawkins died about sixty years ago and the house was
sold. It was bought by Dr. Clague and then occupied by Mr.
J. S. Gell, High Bailiff. He died about 1919. He had bought
Lorne House from General Stevenson and had started to get
ready to move, but was taken ill. His only son was killed in
the First World War. Mrs. Clague, when she died, left the
house to the Misses Corrin, who sold it when the High
Bailiff died. It was bought by a Mr. Cocker, whose sister
and brother-in-law now live in it.
Westwood was built in about 1836, the architect was Thomas Brine. A
grand late Georgian house with an impressive pillared doorway. The
house is flanked by curved screens to the street and has a low railed
wall at the front. It retains its cement rendering.
Crofton was built for Mr. J. M. Jeffcott High Bailiff, in
1851. My father used to say that the men went to London to
the Great Exhibition and left the apprentices to carry on
with the house.
Mr. Jeffcott lived above his means and the house was sold
and bought by Dr. Clague. He pulled down the high wall at
the street and put up a low wall with railings and built a
stable and coach house and a workshop at the end of the
garden and did up the garden.
When Mrs. Clague died the house was sold and then bought
by an Englishman named Mr. Hasslegrave. And it is now
for sale, if not already sold.
Crofton was perhaps built a little earlier than suggested by Cooper, the
architect was Thomas Brine. Dr. John Clague (1842-1908) was a
distinguished doctor. He became a part of the movement for
conservation and revival of Manx language and music and collaborated
with W. H. Gill and Deemster Gill, in the compilation of the Manx
National Songbook
. Dr. Clague also composed the popular hymn-tunes,
Crofton and Erinport.
The coach house is now a separate private house, Croft Mews.
The next three houses [10-6 The Crofts], are built on an
angle. The first was occupied by the Misses Cain who went
by the name of Cain-a-Vaish. The second was owned by
Mr. J. S. Kegg but I don't know who lived in it. It was later
bought by Mr. W. Callow, Town Clerk, who lived in it until
he went to Liverpool after leaving the job of Town Clerk.
I do not remember who lived in the third before Mr. W. A.
E. Pollock who still lives in it. He is about my age and went
to school with me and perhaps went there to live when he
married. When he was going to school he lived with his
uncle Robert Schofield, College Green.
10 The Crofts (Kenmure), 8 and 6 The Crofts were built in the mid-
1850s as a terrace. An access road at the rear was later incorporated in
the area of the Bowling Green. All were originally rendered.
The Garden, now the Bowling Green, was a market garden
kept by a Mr. Wallace who had a shop in Malew Street.
The Bowling Green The garden was bought by the Castletown
Commissioners in 1946 from the then owner Edward Leaman. The
Bowling Green was officially opened 1950. See also 55-57 Malew
The four houses called Albert Terrace were built by Mr.
Albert Corlett, and called after him. The first was occupied
by Mrs. Shimmin who took in boarders. She had been a
cook with the Rev. Ferrier and I think was cook at the Soup
Kitchen after Mrs Newton.
The other three were occupied by Mr. John Clague,
H.M.Customs, Mr. John Cubbon, stonecutter, and Mr.
Corlett himself until he rebuilt the house in Malew Street.
His widow afterwards came back to live in it.
Albert Terrace, numbered 1to 4 from the Malew Street end (see also
69 Malew Street).
Wesley Terrace, as it was called.
Westham Terrace 1-10, now 46-28 The Crofts. Known as Wesley
Terrace because `they are all Methodists there'. Flaxney Stowell, and
other members of his family living here, were prominent and active
The terrace, most of it probably built in the early 1850s, consists of two-
storeyed, two bay houses, nos, 46, 38 and 28 each with a dormer.
Originally rendered as were all the houses in the Crofts.
The first three houses were owned by Mr. Flaxney Stowell.
The first tenant I remember in the first house [46 The
Crofts, Westcroft] was Mrs. Kneen, who was from Rushen
and her niece Miss Nellie Crye. I also remember Mrs. Tate,
the singer, living in it. When she lived there her cousin Miss
Maggie Corrin brought her sister, Mrs Hannah Parson's,
child over to stay with her. This child was an imbecile and
had never grown up. He was about eight years of age and
no bigger than a child of two. It died here, and, to save
paying the fee for a coffin, they put the little child in a
packing case in its coffin and took it as luggage.
The fourth [40 The Crofts] was occupied by Mr. John
Cubbon, a retired farmer from Upper Billown. He went by
the name of Jonnie-what-what. I understood that he sang at
concerts and that one of the songs contained those words
and that the name stuck to him. He was the brother of Mrs.
The house with a blank window [38 The Crofts] was
occupied by a widow, Mrs. Nannie Clague, whose son Mr.
Daniel Clague and wife came to live in it. My aunts called
him "The Devil's darning needle".
I do not remember who lived in the others until you come to
the fourth from the end [34 The Crofts], which was owned
and occupied by Mr. James Stowell, Secretary to the
Castletown Gas Co. And later by his son John James
Stowell, who had the same job until he retired, married and
went to Port Erin to live.
The next two [32-30 The Crofts] were owned by Mr. Creer
whose daughter was the second wife of Mr. James Stowell,
and mother of his daughter Lily. She lived in one, but I do
not know who lived in the other. I think it was occupied by
the Wesleyan Ministers until Creerville was built.
These houses came into the possession of Mr. J. J. Stowell
and when he went to Port Erin he sold the three houses.
The last [28 The Crofts] was occupied by Mr. Quilliam the
stone cutter and his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. James
Clague. I used to visit this house with his grandson, Mr. R.
E. E. Quilliam as a lad and I remember a picture in the hall
called the "Yarra off the Stack". I believe Mr. Clague was
the skipper. I also remember a damson tree at the bottom of
the garden, but the present occupier tells me there are apple
trees there but no damsons.
This is the end of Westham Terrace.
The Yard and two houses belonged to Mr. Clague who built
them. He was a mason and went by the name of Clague the
Pot. He went to Douglas and started a crockery ware shop
and some of his descendants are still in the business.
The way I know him was when he was in Castletown he
called to see my father.
The first house was for a long time the headquarters of the
Coastguards until they moved to the present houses on
Douglas Street. The house was occupied by the head
Coastguard and the yard was used for drilling purposes.
24 The Crofts and Rosecroft, is a pair of two-storeyed, two bay
houses. There is an extension on the side of no. 24, perhaps on the site
of the former Yard. There is a gap before the next row of three houses.
The second and the next house had no tenants for any
length of time as they were always changing, being mostly
people who came for a couple of years to live cheaply and
send their sons to college.
It is not quite clear which are the houses referred to here, but a typical
entry from The Crofts in the 1881 Census illustrates his point: Mrs and
Mrs Tripp, Annuitant, born in England and three sons, 12, 13 and 19
years old, Scholars, born in South Africa.
This house [18 The Crofts) was occupied by a Mr. Quayle,
cartwright, whose daughter married Mr. R. Kermode,
chemist, and it is still in this family.
The next house [16 The Crofts] was occupied by a Miss
Raynes and her companion, Miss Susan Cleator, who was a
sister of Mr. Fred Cleator, one time coxswain of the
Castletown Lifeboat.
It was later occupied by Mr. George Moore and family who
was a farmer who farmed Balladoole after Mr. Tom Fisher,
and was succeeded in the farm by Mr. W. Moore, whose
sons are still there. They are of the family of Moore,
Ballacross, Arbory.
The next, a high house, called Croft House, was built by
Mr. James Stowell. Miss Stowell kept a boarding house for
retired officers and such like.
Mr. James Stowell was a brother of Mr. Flaxney Stowell.
After Miss Stowell gave it up, it was occupied by General
Dickson [Dixon?] and his family. Later it was occupied by
Mr. J. D. Paul, a master at K.W.C. It is now occupied by
Dr. Scott-Forrest.
Croft House, an impressive three-storeyed house, was built by James
Stowell in 1860. It stayed in the family until 1914 when it was bought by
Mrs. Isabella Taggart of Mona House, Malew Street.
The next [Merton Croft] is a comparatively new house,
was built about 1910 for Miss Mary Martin when Mr.
Corlett bought her shop in Arbory Street and converted it
into a grocers shop.
The next, Creerville, was built about 1892 as a residence
for the Wesleyan Ministers. Before that the minister lived in
one of the houses in Wesley Terrace.
The next, Ridgmont, was built about 1895 for Miss Crellin
and her sister when they gave up living in Westhill after
their mother died.
The garden, now owned by Mrs. Cooil, and the site of the
last three garages, was part of the Westhill Estate.
Creerville and Ridgmont were designed as a pair, Ridgmont with its
main façade and entrance to the side.
For his retirement in the 1970s Dr. Jackson built a house, Garey
Voalitt, in the garden, set well back behind high walls.
The house and next garden [4 The Crofts] was occupied by
Dr. Clague until he moved to Crofton. It was then occupied
by Dr, Freer and is now occupied by Dr. Stephen.
The next house [Croft End] was occupied by a family
named Wilby. It was afterwards bought by Misses Mary
and Lydia Kermode, daughters of Mr. J. F. Kermode, baker,
Arbory Street. When Miss Lydia died, it was sold to a Miss
Bridson, who also died, and it was again sold to Mrs.
These are the oldest houses in The Crofts, built in 1830 by William
Downes, Merchant. He was the son of James Downes, innkeeper of
The George from the 1780s to 1820. The properties were sold to William
Downe's son-in-law, Benjamin Franklin Wilby.
The plot of land also belonged to the Wilbys, one of whom
was a Chaplain and Instructor in the Royal Navy. This plot
was bought by the Cubbon family (Diftys) who lived at the
corner of Malew Street, and they have recently built two
bungalows on it.
The road here at the back of the Malew Street houses is
called the Bog Lane.
Here we say goodbye to William Henry Cooper and his memories of

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