‘Enormously beneficial’ town heritage centre up and running

The public gets its first chance to browse Ramsey Heritage Centre, including displays on the town's origins, maritime, industrial and social history

The public gets its first chance to browse Ramsey Heritage Centre, including displays on the town's origins, maritime, industrial and social history

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The new Ramsey Heritage Centre enjoyed a busy opening bank holiday weekend.

Thanks to huge efforts from around the community, spear-headed by Ramsey Rotary Club, Quayle’s Hall in Albert Street is now home to a treasure trove of northern history, and a new tourist focal point for the town.

At the weekend’s official opening, the Rotary Club’s Chris Blatcher described the day as ‘truly a milestone in the history of the building’, which was originally built in 1834 as a church.

The club was first involved in the hall in the 1960s when it housed the Ramsey Old Folk’s Club. Around 10 years ago the club’s Community Service Committee, looking ahead to the centenary of the Rotary Movement, established that a heritage centre would be ‘enormously beneficial to the town’.

With the support of the Quayle’s Hall trustees the Rotary Club totally refurbished the hall in 2007. Mr Blatcher credited a club visit to the Old House of Keys display in Castletown as providing the ‘light bulb’ moment of what Quayle’s Hall could become.

The idea was to incorporate modern technology to portray the history of the north, to help encourage younger people to embrace the history and culture of their community. To give the hall this new lease of life, support to the tune of £70,000 from the trustees of the Eric and Marion Scott Estate helped the Rotarians complete the project; a mixture of digital, written and artefacts to preserve the history of north.

Local graphic designer Pete Jones created the theme and design of the display boards, backgrounds of the digital displays and signs, Mannin Media produced the display boards and digital displays, while Sue Woolley collated and composed most of the material and display content.

Mr Blatcher added: ‘We have also had tremendous support from collectors like Les Clarke and Ray Stanfield who have given us access to their personal collections. To date we have scanned just under 1,000 pictures for future use, meaning that there should regularly be something different to see.’

With the added flexibility to host other exhibitions, the centre opened with a Manx Grand Prix display, and there are plans next month to celebrate 120 years of the Manx Electric Railway.

Being close to the tram station and proposed transport interchange, the centre also houses tourist information, and includes access to the digital iMuseum thanks to Manx National Heritage. It will open from 10am to 4pm six days a week in the summer, and on Saturdays from the end of September with additional opening available for groups and schools. See www.facebook.com/ramseyheritagecentre for news and updates.

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