Metropole Mansions

Metropole mansions

On a site at end of Queen's Promenade just south of Crescent Hotel and, I think, on the site previously occupied by Rock Villa (built for James McCrone). According to Peter Kelly the stone to build them was brought down from Sumerhill quarry - they backed onto a rock face. Designed by W.J.Rennison in 1894 to commission of Messr Stott and Pittar, plans submitted in 1896 - opened by 1897; designed as individual boarding houses with the somewhat larger central section being the Metropole Hotel - judging from the entry in the 1897 Official Tourist Guide the terrace was only completed 1897/8. Some houses were later amalgamated to provide larger hotels - the Alexandria was the South end with Dodsworth's being at the North end..

Description

Proprietor

Address

Sitting Rooms

Bedrooms

Remarks

Boarding House & Private Hotel.

Axon

Metropole Mansions, Queen’s Prom.

5

25

Facing bay. Bathing ground, boating fishing, &c. Terms from 5/6.

Boarding

J. T. Roberts

2, Metropole Mansions do.

2

21

Facing sea. Terms from 5/6 to 6/6.

Boarding

J. Breadner

3, Metropole Mansions, do

 

 

Porter meets every steamer.

Boarding

R. Waltho

4, Metropole Mansions do.

2

 

Facing sea. Trams pass every few min.

Family Hotel

J. Crofts

Hotel Metropole, Queen’s Promenade

3

50

Near places of amusements and Bathing

Boarding

John P. Smith

The Mona, Queen’s Prom., Crescent

3

50

Facing the bay. ‘Bus meets all steamers Terms from 6/- to 7/- per day..

Entries from 1898 Official Tourist Guide

Metropole,1904

The 1904 photograph shows that J.P.Smith had taken over the adjacent Metropole. He was still there in 1939 advertising 'same proprietor for 42 years'

 

The following advert appeared in 1904 Official Tourist Guide

 

WAVERLEY,
QUEEN’S PROMENADE
(facing the Sea.)

This High-class BOARDING ESTABLISHMENT, is admitted to be the best
appointed in the British Isles.

The Sanitary arrangements are on the most modern principles, and the Public Rooms, namely:—Dining, Drawing, Smoke and Billiard Rooms have been built with all the latest Improvements, in ventilation and comfort.

The Bedrooms, 50 in number, are large, lofty, and well-aired.

BATHS-Hot and Cold.
ELECTRIC LIGHT

TERMs—6/- to 7/- per day, according to position of Bedroom.

P. MILNE PROPRIETOR

 

Metropole

CONISHEAD PRIORY, ULVERSTON, 30th January, 1890

Mr. PETER MILNE, Proprietor of the Waverley Boarding House, Douglas, Isle of Man, was for ten years an official at the Priory, and latterly was Assistant Manager. He was thoroughly trustworthy, obliging, and courteous, and was a great favourite with ail the visitors. Last summer he left the Priory to be Proprietor of "The Waverley," and during the autumn I visited his house, and found everything in first-class order. Excellent bedrooms, good food, well cooked and plenty of it, capital attendance, and every comfort—in short a real "Home."

The 1889 date probably corresponds to the start of his tenancy of the 'Waverley' and 'Havelock' 37 Loch Promenade from which he presumeably removed, along with the name, when the Metropole site opened. Peter Milne was later in conflict with the licensing authorities in 1907.

WW2 Internment Camp

The whole block was requistioned during WW2 to form one of several internment camps in Douglas - it was surrounded by barbed wire from the promenade and adjacent buildings and used until 1944 to house Italian internees.

A description was given by Giovannelli

S Camp was the Metropole...comprising only four houses, the Alexandra and Metropole Hotels, Milne’s Waverley and Dodsworth’s, but attached to it, though outside the barbed wire, was the prison for internees under-going special punishment ... It turned out to be the stable used by the Douglas Corporation for the horses which in peace time draw trams along the promenade from Derby Castle to the pier. It was an interesting prison, three feet wide and six long, with a manger at one end on which you could neither sit nor lie, a small ventilator window and a cobbled floor which was always damp. There were eight of these stall-cells, and the end one was used as a lavatory, so the stink was quite a revelation.

However the actual Metropole Camp sounds rather more pleasant:

BY NOW [1941] THE Metropole Camp was a well-organised one. Inside, on the ground floor, next to the gate outside which was the military headquarters, was the camp headquarters office, with the assembly room next to it where roll call was taken. Then came the dining room which stretched right through from front to back of the house, the Alexandra Hotel. In the basement were the kitchens, a music room with a piano, and correction room where recalcitrant internees were punished by order of the House Council for any misdeeds which we did not wish to report to the military authorities; this was only used twice during my stay. There were also two extra kitchens with gas cookers where internees were allowed to do private cooking if they wished. Next to the correction room was the church, run by two internee priests from Kenya, where Mass was offered and confessions heard.

On the ground floor of the Metropole Hotel, next to the Alexandra, was the canteen, the general store and a billiard room. Then came the hall, and next to it a school for French, English, Latin, German and Russian classes and the library, and then the dining room, which was also used for lectures and sometimes for cabarets produced by the prisoners and for various indoor sports. In the basement was a bakery, the parcel post office and the kitchen. In the Waverley on the ground floor was a big recreation room where we used to play bridge, poker and other card games, and another dining room. In the basement of this house was the barber’s shop, the carpenter’s shop, the welfare office and an Italian elementary school which I ran for the sailors who could not read or write even in their own language.

The first, second and third floors of all the houses were given over to bedrooms and bathrooms and toilets. The Alexandra had four bathrooms on each floor, the Metropole three on each floor and the Waverley two on each floor. Most rooms were occupied by three men, some by only one, but two rooms were specially fitted by the authorities with bunks for two families, one of six and one of eight men and boys who wished to be together. The last house, Dodsworths, was the infirmary. The back of this camp was only a few yards from the spur of rockface below Little Switzerland, and a hundred yards up the cliff was a big quarry into which we were taken when there was an air raid.

 

Demolished in 1998 when an apartment block was built in its place.

References

L.N. Giovannelli Paper Hero Douglas: Island Development Co 1971


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