[From Mona's Herald 15 July 15 1896]

 Old Douglas - part II

[note the three articles were unsigned]

The following day was devoted to "REPECTABILTY," and its Shams, Veneers, and Hollowness. " Boys," I was told "should be respectable, and respectful, and always say, 'Yes sir;' 'No, sir;' " but this, I hear, is now superseded by what are called "Board School manners." There being no return steamer until the following Saturday night:, I meanwhile found occupation in a "stravague" in and around the town. Up to John Moore the Hill's gardens, where Old Jolley, the gardener, was as sour as his greenest gooseberries--the Camp field (in which the Fencibles were drilled) to the west, and Gick's field to the south; adjoining St. George's Church. Then a stroll through the private gardens lying at the: back of Athol-street ; thence out on to Prospect-hill nearly opposites Robert Corteen's school, where many a Manx lad was equipped for the voyage of life---Cottier, Croughan, Stratton, Bonnyman, Johnie :and Willie Cowin, Joe and Harry and Edw. Creer, Tom Corlett, Joughin, Cain, and other sons of the sea whose names do not come up to the call, of the writer's memory, most, of whom have long since "Passed in the number of their mess." Lower down the hill was the Commercial Bank, presided over by the pompous old Dickie; whilst opposite was the Catholic Chapel, where ministered the sainted Father McGrath, of whom boys and girls were given to understand that the gentle, good old priest put a hammer and a penny into the coffins of his people when they departed for the Great Unseen -the former to knock at the door of heaven, and the latter to pay for admission. Oh ! they were terrible people, were those " Papists." I was even told at the time, as a portion of the popular belief that the Jews and Romans ate young Protestant children, considering them a, choice dish resembling in flavour roast sucking-pig, Underneath the chapel dwelt "Kelly the Roman," the schoolmaster and opposite, a joiner's workshop, access to which was gained by a ladder; and Haining the chandler's, where candles and soap were made. At the foot of the hill, on the left, was Dr Garrett's, the founder of the Douglas Gas Works; while on the opposite corner was the Isle of Man Museum, kept by Joseph Ritson Wallace, from canny Cumberland, and to which everybody went with things rare and curious brought by friends from far away, as well as treasure trove found in fields under the plough at home, from a soapstone Chinese padoga to the golden bracelets and leglets and breastplates and sword and axe which Rachel Looney, of the Hibernian Inn, dug up in Kirk Maughold. And all of which went (to the sorrow of the donors) with Wallace and his scurrility when he "left the Island for the Island's good," to return to the land which gave him birth.

Looking up the street you were confronted by "The King's Arms," kept by Peter Crelley [? all directories have Thomas], while on the left-hand side was John Cain the Bookseller's, a burning and shining light in Methodism, but with a conscience as tough as the leather with which he bound his books.

Lower down on the left hand dwelt Robert Cannell, or " Friendly Bob," whose son, " Never Die," was a character of bibulous tastes whom the boys tormented: On the opposite side of the street; lived, William Brooke, son of a Yorkshire squire, and married to Kitty Craine, second daughter of Daniel Craine, who, with his wife were the first victims to cholera in Douglas.; Brooke provided a band for the Teetotal Club, and clothed the members in a brilliant semimilitary uniform. This band proved a formidable rival for the band of the Artificers' Club, of which " Big Billy Creer, the tailor, oh ."' was an imposing member. Of music there way no stint in the Choral Society composed of Frank Byne and his flute; Lieutenant Wood and his contra-basso ; Quarterman, a professor of music, with a promising pupil in Frank Cottier ; Faragher the masons wife, with her delightful "Angels ever bright and fair;" Tom Callow, the advocate; William Clucas and his clarionet; John Curphey, the tailor, with his "Arm, arm ye brave ;" while of minor minstrels there were Archie Cuckoo,and Murphey, violinists of great power; and Tommy Cringle, or Nichol, the executant to "The Fiddlers" - who perambulated the town after midnight to announce the approach of Christmas with "Good morning Mr Harris; good morning, Mrs Harris ; good morning, Miss Jane, Mr Tom, an Mr Sam and all the rest of the family , a fine frosty morning, half-past two o'clock!" It was on this fiddler the Manx Burns - John Gell, the mason, roused from his sleep - dashed off the Impromptu -

"Cease, catgut scraper, cease Your trade,
My ears no longer tickle
For the Devil he once a fidder made,
And called him Tommy Nichol.

Next Brooke's house was George Wright, the dyer's, a King at Whist, father of the empire-known firm of Messrs Wright, son and grandson, of Manchester. Opposite was Mat Bridson, the baker's; and lower down, at the junction of George's-street and Factory lane, was Robert Shimmon, the grocer, grocer, clerk to Mr Dumbell, the advocate. The Wesleyan School and Chapel stood in Thomas-street, where lived Tom Howard, called " the Duke of Norfolk," from his resemblance to that nobleman. In Thomas-street, Mrs Glendenning kept school; and in King-street, facing you, was Charley Craine, the tanner's. Below, in King-street, was Aspull, the butcher's, and Archie Clarke (from the Nappin, in Jurby), the grocer, a powerful local preacher, who married Mrs Shortridge's daughter, from the; top of Bigwell street. Lower down was Mrs Robinson's inn, mother of John, Henry, and Willie Robinson. On the opposite corners were Cannell, the hatter's, and Nicholas Moore's, who came from Cattle Market-street; and Neddy Lawson, the baker's, where most of the mechanics' Sunday dinners were baked,

In Factory-lane, or Preaching-house-lane, was Moore's factory and the Ranters' Chapel, in which the gentle old Atterbury ministered [PM minister 1837-1840] solace to the souls of the sorrowful. Below stood Kelly's brewery, on the site of the present Wellington Hall and Market, into which the farmers would not go because they were asked to pay a penny toll on their baskets. Oh, they were hard at a bargain, were those fellows, and " keen ur-a-massy '."

Now we are in Duke-street-the business street of the town. Thomas and John Wilson's, the drapers; Cubbin, the draper's Hales, the tailor's; Kerruish, ditto; Kneale, ditto, who worked for Captain Bacon, whose coats had been turned so often by " Jemmy" that they afforded a simile for Tom Stowell in lampooning a well-known man, " and turned his coat like Captain Bacon."

Captain Bacon always claimed to be a " three-bottle man," from the fact that on the evening before Quatre Bras he and the only surviving officer of his company each consumed at dinner three bottles, being the remainder of their stock of wines in the mess, Opposite was Kerr & Lewin's (commonly called Carlowen's). On the Drumgold-sheet side was Ward the shoemaker's, father of the Right Hon. J. K. Ward, of Montreal; and at the entrance to Sand-street, Radcliffe, the brewer's, and Norris Clague's, the grocer. Opposite Radcliffe's was the Miss Callow's, milliners. Returning, and going towards the Market-place, was Cubbon, the leather cutter's; Atkinson's " Medical Hall ;" Teare, the butcher's ; Sherwood, the ironmonger's (who bought the New Market property for 1,900); Shaw, the draper's; Geneste, the advocate ; Omerod, the ironmongors ; Bevan, the glove-man; Tommy Garrett, the brewer's ; Oates the confectioner's; Andrew Croughan (whose ropewalk was on the seaward side of Colonel's road) ; Gavin Torrance's : Manson, the druggist's; Roger Roney, the grocer's at the corner of King street, (of whom Jackey Moore, the butcher, and his orange mob used to sing as they marched along

"We'll get a rope and hang the Pope,
And to hell with Roger Roney.") .

Roberts, the pork butcher's ; old Christie Karran ,daughters, milliners ; Jeferson the printer of the Duke's paper, The Manx Advertiser, who brought the first bookbinder to the island, always called Father Gray, from the fact that he was a printer and " father of the chapel". (the phrase a survival of old monkish times), and whose epitaph John Dalton wrote:

Beneath this stone lies Father Gray,
Changed to a lifeless lump of Clay,
He was a merry harmless fellow,
Sang " Wherry Whang"'* when he was mellow.

`Hot mutton pies were his delight;
But once they burnt his tongue for spite,
Since which young Roger,+ grown so wise,
Now waits he to cool his mutton pies

With Burbon stick and Quaker hat,
A gent in figure not too fat,
With pleasing smile and skill profuse
to far outshine the tragic muse

For see the guilty Macbeth start
with rolling eys and beating heart ;
Or see the comic figure sly
Cry "Razors, Oh!" - most rascally.

Or "Dolly's Cruelty"++ deplore
And set the table in a roar.
Oh hang the malice of the age
That kept this Roscius of the stage

CRIB could not show such boxing grace
Nor Kelty in the Market Place
Such light fantastic legs let fly
Betwixt the steeple and the sky
When a young elf, of sparring note
Twined his long shanks round Father's throat
Of magic deeds I do not boast
He cleared the gate like any ghost

Poor Father Gray, Farewell ! Farewell !
For hark ! I hear his ding-dong bell

* a cumberland hunting song
An epitaph applied to Father Gray
see cumberland dialogues and ballads
a noted dancing master

Father Gray was the son of a Cumberland clergyman, had received a gentlemanly education, and was apprenticed to a printer and bookbinder in Whitehaven at a premium of fifty guineas, in the days when printers were the only craftsmen in England permitted to wear swords.

(To be continued)


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part 1 ; part 3


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2005