Old Douglas

[taken from Mona's Herald 13 & 20 Feb 1932



To the Editor.

Sir,---In this week's "Herald" you ask where Preaching House Lane was. This was the Wellington Street of to day, and was Factory Lane (or New Factory Lane,--Taggart's plan, 1834), subsequent to or continuous with its being known as Preaching House Lane. In "Mona's Herald, of July 15th, 1896, and two subsequent issues, there appeared a lengthy article by an old Manxman who left the Island for abroad in the forties, describing the town as he knew it in his early days. He says, "In Factory Lane, or Preaching House Lane, was Moore's factory and the Ranters' Chapel, in which the gentle, old Atterby ministered solace to the souls of the sorrowful. Below stood Kelly's Brewery on the site of the present Wellington Hall and Market" (now, of course, Collinson's).

Mr J. J. Kneen gives the derivation of Preaching House Lane as being from its proximity to Thomas Street Wesleyan Chapel. This might be so, as the Wesleyan Chapel was on the corner of Wellington Street, or nearly so, and the building, now the Sunday-school, actually so. Still the Primitive Methodist Chapel was not of very much later construction (1823) than the Wesleyan one (1820)-:

Re the name, Factory Lane, this has often been claimed for the little cul-de-sac that ran up from Duke, Street. where Collinson's chocolate shop now is, opposite the entrance to Fort Street, between R. C. Cain's and Cannell's cafe. It is described in Taggart's Plan as "Wellington Buildings."

"At one corner of the lane entrance there was an old cannon, half buried, nose down, to keep carts off the corner." This cannon, by the way, was found when getting out the foundations of Burton's in recent years. "On the left-hand side going up the lane there was a large building occupied by a Mr Holmes as a tobacco factory. Nearly opposite the factory were two or three small cottage, with small gardens; then across the end (at rear of where Axon's now is) were stables in a large yard. Over the stables was a large room, in which the first Douglas Board School was opened."

In Wood's Plan of Douglas, 1833, on the right side going up the cul de sac, there is indicated an entrance to an open space, divided by dots into small squares, which would be the cottage gardens. Reverting to the large room over the stables above-mentioned, this was later exploited (prior to its use as a school) as a dance hall, with flaring lights at night, but its life was short, as the churches 'took a hand,' plus a serious view of its demoralising possibilities on the youth of the period, and succeeded in having the place closed. The two, almost century old, plans of what was then Douglas-Wood's (1833) and Taggart's (1834)-can both be seen in the Museum, and are of supreme interest to those to whom the aspect of Douglas a century ago appeals. Be it understood, however, that while Taggart's is a street plan only, Wood's shows buildings in detail and all inter-spaces, gardens, brooghs, etc., indicated as such. "Thus, between Sand Street and Cattle Market Street were large open spaces - garden ground evidently; and the only way out in that area into Sand Street and then by a slip to the shore was a narrow passage at what was lately Wademan's Pie Shop (said narrow passage, built over, and a few years ago a tiny, bird-fancier,, establishment), and across Sand Street, where the very narrow premises of :a tripedresser are now, which had at some period been annexed and built on, ran the slipway down on to the shore. The writer of his boyhood memories in the 1840's, referring to above, says, "Sand Street was one of small cottages, many of them thatched. In one, the thatch of which, as a boy, I have touched with my hand, dwelt the Manx 'Burns'-John Gell, the mason-whose lampoons in the local newspapers under the signature of 'Tickler,' were numerous."

In a recent issue of your journal you mentioned in a "Looking Backward" item, "Guttery Gable and Callow's Slip" - wherever they were. Well, Guttery Gable is still where it has always been-coming into Strand Street from Cattle Market Street, between the Strand Cinema and "Wonderland," these days, opposite Howard street, which in earlier times was a 'slip' to the shore. Perhaps the present official designation of 'Arch Lane' borne by the old passage may convey more to the editorial mind than the old and less euphonious title.

Callow's Slip was at the junction of Duke Street and, Strand Street, opposite Drumgold Street, and led down to the shore on the line of, Regent Street of to-day. Another slip, Lewthwaite's, passed on to the shore from Fort St., at the point where Lewthwaite's Court still is, but not for long. Seawards of that were the shipyards; and folk from the Lonan and Onchan areas coming into Douglas are said to have crossed the sands in early times barefoot, passed up Lewthwaite's Slip (only at low water, one would think), up Stowell's Lane into New Bond Street, and dropped (literally) into the old Step-down Inn-recently demolished to restore themselves to their personal comforts: boots and stockings certainly --and "jough wis pappar on it" possibly-even probably.


To the Editor.

Sir,-Anyone who has lived the allotted span of life must indulge at times in looking backwards, and must be interested in the articles which appear from time to time in the "Mona's Herald."

Recently, reference was made to the "slips" which led to the shore in Douglas Bay. The furthest north which occurs to me was McCrone's Slip below Falcon Cliff ; then Brown's Slip, where the Falcon Hotel now stands, and where formerly stood Brown's Shore Inn; then Well Road Slip; then Guttery Gable (Howard Street), and then Callow's Slip (Regent Street).

My memory, of course, does not go back to 1846, from your files of which date you quoted last week; but I can remember Douglas when I was a very small boy, twenty years later.

You say the Committee of Highways inspected the line of road leading from Castle Mona gate to Woodville, and known as Lover's Lane. I think in this case "Woodville" should read "Woodbourn," which is referred to in a contemporary guide as "the beautiful villa of Mrs Harrison, situated about a quarter of a mile north of Douglas."

Castle Mona grounds, at one time, commenced at the foot of Broadway, and in my recollection this corner was called the "Castle Tap," because, I presume, when Castle :Mona became an hotel, a bar was opened here. I remember an inn,, with a bowling alley, where the Central Hotel now stands. Love Lane (a lovers' lane) ran from Broadway to Woodbourn, and is, of course, Derby Road. I never heard of "Buffalo," but it is evident it was once applied to the site on which Derby-Square stands.

Preaching House Lane was, I believe, Thomas Street. Perhaps, for the benefit of the younger people, I may explain that Thomas Street ran from the ironmonger's shop in Nelson Street (now Cannell and Harvey's) to the "Manx Sun" Office in King Street (now the back of the Gas Company's display shop). Thomas Street contained the Methodist Chapel, which has now been changed to Victoria Street Wesleyan Church-Yours, etc., J, C.

Further. Recollections of Old Douglas.

(To the Editor of "Mona's Herald")..

Sir,-I cannot speak with authority as to the identity of Preaching House Lane as. the name was no current in my young days, but I have heard Wellington Street spoken of as Factory Lane. The cul-de-sac off Duke -Street, in which was the first Board School (temporary), at one time contained the "Herald" Office--that was before Mr John Christian Fargher acquired the old Independent Chapel which became the Athol Halls on the ground floor of which the "Herald" was printed until the removal to the present premises in Ridgeway Street. I don't think this cul-de-sac was ever called Factory Lane; in fact the address given on the "Herald" imprint was 29a, Duke Street (figures from memory).

With further reference to Preaching House Lane: if Thomas Street Chapel was built in 1820, it is evident that there were preaching. houses in Douglas before that date, and the lane may have been named from an older building than either, Thomas Street Chapel or Wellington Street Chapel. I remember the old Independent Chapel in Athol StĄ and the tablet was afterwards on the steps behind the "Herald" Office, and is probably there still, behind Kissack's bottling stores, "Independent Chapel, erected 1809."

In the sixties and early seventies Sand Street and .Back Sand Street were the names used. I remember a thatched house where Webb's Lounge afterwards stood. Doubtless King Street, Queen Street and Lord St. are merely conventional names, but we can take it that Duke. Street was so called :because it led from the Market Place towards Castle Mona, the residence of the Governor General, the Duke of Athol.-Yours, etc. J.C.

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