[Taken from the Ramsey Courier 31 Jan 1930]
In 1858 we removed from Auckland Terrace to the shop house of Messrs Corkill and Kneale's and as this was situate on the quay, I was able in my earliest days to glean some knowledge of the trade of the port, and of activities in the vicinity of the harbour. In those days the piers at the harbour entrance were small affairs compared with the present structures and only went to the point where the wooden extensions start. Where the Harbour Office is now there was a lighthouse and the berthage for vessels extended from opposite the Steam Packet office to a point in line with the Gullet lane. There was, of course, no Swing Bridge, and I have seen it possible to cross from bank to the other by simply stepping from vessel to vessel. We hear today frequent regrets expressed at the passing of the Ramsey fishing fleet but the days of the "half-donkey" are comparatively recent. Some idea of the extent of the trade of the port at the time I am speaking of may be gathered from the following list of coasters and colliers which were registered at Ramsey and traded from this port in the fifties:-
Coasters:- The Harriet Wild master R. Christian traded between Ramsey and Quebec, carrying timber for Mr R. Teare merchant; Fanny (master Ned Karran); Duke of Athol (master J. Kneale); Capricorn (master Harry Teare, son of Mrs Teare the Commercial); William (master W. Brown); Bridget (master C. Moore, grandfather of the present Attorney-General); Brunette (master T. Brayden); Marion (master Dan Corlett); Pausillipo (master J. Kissack) Mona's Queen (master Billie Moore)
Colliers:- Mary Jane, Hazlewood, Gem, Emma, Gratitude, George, Hart,Mary, Sarah, Town, Alert
The Bahama lightship crew lived in Ramsey and had a store at the back of the Prince of Wales Hotel. The lugger Hop, belonging to Ramsey (master Bill Faragher) was the lightship tender. Capt Temple was the master of the lightship itself.
In addition to these craft there was a fleet of cod-boats 24ft to 26ft keel open boats, rigged with two lugs: also several mackerel boats about 21ft keel. The only lugger going to the herrings was the Foison manned by a crew from the Lhen
There were two lime boats running between Ramsey and Castletown. A number of rowing boats were kept by Mr Kinrade grandfather of Mr Chas. Kinrade, and Jack Cowley, the brancher [sic], father of Mr Cowley, greengrocer, Market Place.
When I crossed to Whitehaven in the Manx Fairy to spend some time in St Bees, my father, I remembered crossed later in the smack Albion to meet me. We returned in the Brunette, the other passengers on that occasion being: Messrs John Cleator, of Cleator Bros.; J. C. Goldsmith, merchant; and Robert Teare merchant of Neptune Street. The passage took 36 hours due to the weather. It is interesting to note that the skipper Tom Brayden, was afterwards Harbour Master of Ramsey, and the first mate was Johnnie Clarke, also Harbour Master at a later period. The forward hand was the well known Ned Skillicorn, afterwards mate in the Mona's Isle and Ellan Vannin until he retired, and the cook was Dick Quinney.
In a terrible storm one night several colliers were involved in a memorable experience which might have spelt disaster. Six of them, homeward bound from Whitehaven laden with coal missed the harbour mouth and ran ashore between the Price of Wales Hotel and the old pier. Some of the vessels, including the Hazlewood, went to pieces, and all had to be discharged where they lay. Of three others which had got into the harbour, the Mary berthed back of the Crown, Caesar Moore following in the Bridget, ran into her, and sank her, and the Emma (Johnnie Thompson) also coming up at the same time, landed on top of the bank and later had to be discharged there. On the same night when the storm was at its height, another vessel went ashore at Ballure, the smack Albion broke in two at the harbour mouth, and the crew of two hands were got ashore by a line from the pier-head. No lives were lost in these cases, but another vessel not belonging to the port, went ashore at the Shallag the same night, and all hands were lost.
In those days the coal was sold in Ramsey direct out of the colliers in the harbour there being only one coalyard in the town. It thus happened the vessels were sometimes a matter of weeks in port. Most of the coal was delivered by two men carrying the loads on their backs, the first donkey cart being introduced by a man called Pitts.
At this time the Ramsey Steam Packet Co. which had been running the Manx Fairy about seven years collapsed, and the only thing left with the shareholders was the brass cannon, which had been presented to the vessel by Archdeacon Moore and is now in possession of the Ramsey Coastguards.
An incident perhaps worth recalling in these days of the widespread and everyday use of electricity, was the trial - which I attended as a school-boy - of a pump invented by Mr C. B. Nelson's uncle, an engineer It was fixed to a wall over the river at the Cooperage, and was worked by a small electric battery. The pump drew immense quantities of water, the lift as far as I remember, being that of a six-inch pipe. The water entered a square tank and was discharged in one volume. Thus we had an experiment in the use of electric power in Ramsey as far back as 70 years ago.