Ward Library

Ward Public Library, Castle Street

Opened in September 1907 and built on the site of the Ward family home opposite the Courthouse enttrance in Castle (or as then Big) Street. John Kewley Ward, 1819-1910, was the fourth child of John Ward (an Army pensioner) and Elizabeth Kewley. Leslie Quilliam in his history relates the tale that during the potato-riots of 1825 John Ward informed the authories about the riotious demonstration outside the court house — following subsequent disfavour with his neighbours he and family removed to Castletown. John Ward was in the Dragoons and on retiring on pension due to wounds, opened as a leather dealer (and boot/shoe repairer) — he was first superindent of the Wesleyan Sunday School which opened in the original chapel on Shore Road in 1813 (the job would also require teaching basic literacy). The school had some 170 pupils by 1822; it was his position close by to the court house that saw his windows smashed in the 1821 corn-riots and again in the green-tithe (potato) riots of 1824.

James was educated in Douglas before, like many others, emigrating to the USA in 1842 where he worked as a clerk in a timber mill, progressing to take charge. He moved to Canada and prospered, becoming a life-member of Quebec Legislative Council, though never forgot Peel — one gift being the Ward clock tower added to St Peter's in 1875.

In November 1905 he offered a £1000 towards the cost of building a Public Library in Peel, favouring his birthplace as the site, which had been left to the Vicar and Wardens of Kirk German for the benefit of the Poor A plebiscite of Peel rate-payers, who would have to find additional money and running costs, agreed to accept the offer. The Vicar however indicated that transfer of the site would not be legally possible and after discussion and consideration of alternative sites, Mr Dale who owned No 29 Church Street (the at one-time Royal Oak public house) offered it as a replacement for the birth-place thus allowing the original plans to go forward. Accordingly No. 29 became the 'Old People's Home' (or The Dale Home).

The accepted design, following an open competition, was by J. H. Cowle but building costs forced that by Mr Ambrose H.C. Kelly for a building in rendered Peel brick (£527)


L. Quilliam The Ward Public Library 1907-1987 Peel:Ward Library pp8 (free history booklet from Library)

Peel Index


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001