[Taken from the Ramsey Courier 28 Feb 1930]

Ramsey Seventy Years Ago

No IX Old College Street

We were at the Old Cross when we left off our tour of Old Ramsey last week. Prior to the opening of Waterloo Road and Church Street, Maughold Street and College Street constituted the main entrance to the ton from the South. Even later, College Street, which I am about to describe as it was in the fifties, was regarded as an important part of the town. For one thing it contained the Grammar School (where the Church Institute is now) a school of about 90 boys, boarders and day pupils. It was carried on by Rev. W. Sparrow, as headmaster, the English master was Mr Edward Kissack, later rector of Ballaugh; the German master Mr C. O. Wickert ; the French master M. Gaudemard ; and drill sergeant Stapleton completed the staff. Among the pupils I can recall to memory at the moment were: C.B Nelson and his brother John; William Charles and Arthur Clarke, sons of Capt. Clarke, after retiring from the Navy later lived at Mbweni, Ramsey); John and Robert Stephen, sons of Deemster Stephen ; Dan and Denis Cronin, Geo Heron, George and Harry Welsby, Tom Kinney, Robert Sayle Corlett and his brother T. S. Corlett (who met his death in a shooting accident); Fred and Albert Buck; Chas Wilders, Wm Gilmour, R. H. Teare, Wm and John Hewitt, J. M. Cruickshank, Ed. Craine (son of Dr Craine), John Craine, H. Craine, Henry and W. Marsh (sons of Capt. Marsh, Mona Cottage) G. Head, H. Pilkington, W. C. Spence, J.S. Corlett, E. Priestland, G. Haslam, J. and W. Corkill, C. and W. Sharpe, W. & J. Qualtrough, H. & A. Christian, Geo Helsham, John Moore, and a son of Mr A. N. Laughton, advocate.

Nearby the Grammar School was the warehouse of John Corlett, miller, a brother of Thomas Corlett coach builder, of Ramsey, the latter of whom when he died was one of the oldest inhabitants of Ramsey. Mr Corlett, for the purpose of his corn grinding work, installed a boiler and steam engine in these premises, and I remember the day when he started the machinery. When he got a head of steam on, the vibration set up was so great, and the adjoining buildings affected to such an alarming extent that he had to draw off the fire immediately and blow the steam off. Mr Sparrow was so frightened through his premises shaking that he dismissed the school for the day. In the house opposite lived a joiner named Christian, who, I remember was found drowned in Ramsey Harbour one morning. On the west side of College Street to begin with, there were a couple of cottages and the Grammar School playground. Then there was the house of Miss Moore, sister of Mr Thos. Moore, the owner of Aust and Ballacamaish, and aunt of Rev. Philip Moore, who had a living in England. Next were two houses occupied by members of the crew of the Bahama Lightship, and following some gardens came the dwelling house and stables of James Moore, who ran a daily coach to Peel. Among the occupants of the next cottages was Ned Sprainger, joiner and boat-builder, whose wife was the well-known mistress of the Girls' National School. The next place of account was the shop of Pat Lenaghan, tallow chandler. He was a noted Ramsey character, and did a big trade for his candles in connection with Laxey and Foxdale Mines. Further on was Quine's Court, and then the house adjoining the Independent Methodist Chapel which was occupied by Charlie Corkill, a roper. After Chapel Lane came the house of little Billie Radcliffe, a familiar figure in his inevitable tall hat and swallow tail coat. and adjoining was the house of the Christians, Ballyockey, and then Thos Looney's shop.

On the east side, coming up from the Grammar School, the first house was that of Thomas Martin, boat builder. His wife made the soup in those days for the Ramsey Soup Kitchen, which was then situate below the Grammar School, and many a time the enticing smell of hot soup rising to the upper rooms where the youngsters sat in class, provoked among us a premature hunger for our dinner. Next came Sprigger's Lane, which took its name from the cobbler's shop kept by the grandfather on the maternal side of Alfred Cowley, of Ramsey. In this cobbler's shop, I remember some of us lads securing a supply of wax which we placed on the chair of M. Gaudemard, our French master, one day when he was specially hard on us, with the result that when he attempted to get up the chair came with him, much to his annoyance and discomfort, and our amusement - at least for the time being - for retribution followed later.

The mention of the cobbler's shop brings to my mind an occasion later on, in 1864 at the time of the American war, when the North American cruiser, "Tuscarora" was in Ramsey Bay for the space of 48 hours, while in search of the famous "Alabama" (Capt Sims), supposed to be seen in these waters. The interesting local connection is that Fd. Cowley, father of Alfred Cowley, before mentioned, was one of the crew of the "Alabama".

Returning to College Street after several cottages, came the back entrance to the National Schools and that spot brings back to my mind a pathetic incident. A bell, which I believe came from Ballure Chapel, was erected at the top of the building, back of the school, and this was rung to summon the boys to school. One day a lad was "pulling" the bell in the usual way, when the whole thing collapsed, falling on the lad and killing him out-right. That lad, if I remember correctly, was a brother of Thomas Kaighen, of Ramsey, who was buried the other day. There were a few other houses in the street, and Brew's slaughter house, before coming to Market Lane, where Thomas Killip, afterwards parish clerk of Maughold kept a toffee shop. The memorable election, when Mr Killip defeated Ed Corteen for the post of Maughold Parish Clerk, was lately referred to in the "Courier" by another contributor. The corner house in College Street, almost facing Chapel Lane, was occupied by "Johnnie the Penny" and "Billie Thie Ven", two town scavengers in those days employed by the town, and next was the house of John Dinwoodie, butcher for Brews.


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