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Douglas, Isle of Man

Historical Description

Douglas, a town in the Isle of Man, partly in Braddszn parish, but mostly in that of Onchan, at the mouth of the river Douglas, on the SW side of a crescent-shaped bay, 11 miles NE of Castletown, and 75 NW of Liverpool. The bay measures 2¼ miles across, and is provided with excellent accommodation for boating, both rowing and sailing. A fine breakwater, known as the Battery Pier, protects the eastern face of the outer harbour, whilst its northern face is formed by the Victoria Pier, which is the usual landing-place for steamers. The outer harbour is divided into two unequal portions by a smaller pier-the Old Red Pier, as it is called, built 1795 to 1800 at a cost of £26,000. To the north of the landing pier, standing upon a reef of rock in the centre of the southern half of the bay known as the Conister Rock, is the picturesque Tower of Refuge, a small castellated building erected by Sir William Hillary, the founder of the National Lifeboat Institution, when resident at Fort Anne, Douglas, as a place of safety for the crews of vessels wrecked upon this dangerous rock. Douglas was originally a village occupied principally by smugglers, but lias become the chief port of the island, a seat of considerable traffic, a highly-esteemed watering-place, and a great resort of visitors. Thousands flock to it in the months of July and August from Lancashire, Yorkshire, and Warwickshire, and its attractions are well known to the people of these counties. The months that are most enjoyable, however, are May, June, and September, and if it were better known in other counties, these months would be utilized by visitors. The climate is excellent both in winter and summer. Some of the older streets are irregular and narrow, but in recent years a large extent of the old property has been pulled down, and fine wide new streets laid out, with good and substantial buildings on either side, while the outskirts and environs include crescents, terraces, many pretty villas, and much fine scenery. Castle Mona, built by the fourth Duke of Atholl for his own residence, is now a hotel. The court-house is an interesting structure. St George's Church stands pleasantly at the west end of the town, and was built in 1761-80; St Matthew's Church, the oldest in the town, is in the market-place, and was built by Bishop Wilson in 1711; St Thomas' Church stands at the north end of Castle Street, was built in 1850, and is a Gothic edifice with tower and spire; St Barnabas Church stands in Fort Street, and has a spire 140 feet high. There are Scotch Presbyterian, Congregational, Plymouth Brethren, Wesleyan Methodist, Primitive Methodist (the Methodist Church claims half of the population of the island as adherents), Unitarian, and Roman Catholic chapels, commercial and united service newsrooms, Ellan Vannin Club, good public libraries, a theatre and several billiard rooms, an hospital, a house of industry, a dispensary, free and other schools, a head post office, a court-house, and a custom-house. The bathing appliances are excellent, and include hot and cold baths, bathing machines, and caves in the rocks along the beach. The " Palace," Falcon Cliff, and Derby Castle, are the chief places of amusement. The concert halls connected "with each provide good and attractive entertaiment for visitors. There is a fine promenade, along which covered and open trams are driven every four minutes during the summer months. The Loch Parade is founded on land reclaimed from the shore. The Marine Drive round Douglas Head is unsurpassed for beauty and grandeur of scenery. The drive round Onchan Head, at the north of the Douglas Bay, is provided with an electric tram service. Steamers ply regularly to Liverpool, Fleetwood, Whitehaven, Blackpool, Llandudno, Glasgow, Dublin, and Belfast. The island claims the fastest passenger steamers in the kingdom. The 75 miles from Liverpool to Douglas is performed in 3½ hours. Markets are held on Saturdays, and a good coasting trade and extensive fisheries are carried on. A railway connects Douglas with Ramsey, Peel, Castletown, Port Erin, and the chief places in the island.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


Online maps of Douglas are available from a number of sites:

CountyIsle of Man