Walkway from tourism heyday to be demolished

Port Soderick in the 1960s

Port Soderick in the 1960s

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Hundreds of summer trippers once called in by train, tram and boat every day.

But these days Port Soderick lies abandoned and increasingly derelict.

Walkway at Port Soderick that is to be demolished on safety grounds

Walkway at Port Soderick that is to be demolished on safety grounds

And now there are plans for one of the walkways that once crossed rocks to Dragon Rock to be demolished, as its condition is deemed too dangerous – and it would be too costly to repair.

Anna Goldsmith, public rights of way officer for the Department of Infrastructure, has written to Braddan Commissioners asking for their views on demolishing the raised walkway.

She wrote: ‘The walkway has been in a state of disrepair and closed to the public due to safety concerns for many years now.

‘A structural engineer from the department has confirmed that a durable repair is not feasible and that a replacement structure could cost in the region of £125,000.

Ms Goldsmith pointed out as the walkway is a dead end and does not form part of the Raad ny Foillan, the plan is to remove public rights of way. Access along the public right of way over the promenade area and up the steps to Marine Drive would continue, however.

At their public meeting, Braddan Commissioners noted the fact that the causeway was in a dangerous condition and had been closed for some time, but were unhappy that central Government had allowed it to get into such a condition.

It was unanimously resolved to respond to the DoI’s letter stating they were disappointed it had been allowed to get into this state and to ask them to look at alternative ways in which it can be kept open and at least retain public access pending sale of the land.

Port Soderick was created as a tourist resort in the late Victorian times by the Forrester family.

Local historian Peter Kelly said the walkway was created around 1900 but the structure there today was rebuilt by Douglas Corporation when it took over the resort and rebuilt the cafe, pub and amusement arcade as well as creating a paddling pool on the shore.

He said: ‘The path out to the north included an elevated bridge-like section going out on to Dragon Rock. There was a small pool area out on the same section created by a concrete wall being built across a gully in the same way as they created swimming pools at Peel, Port Erin and Port Skillion at Douglas. What the purpose of this was I don’t know.’

Braddan Commissioners spoke of the walkway having once led to cages that housed sealions.

But Mr Kelly said he wasn’t sure that was the case: ‘They never advertised sea lions here. If they were there, there would be postcards as there are for Groudle.’

The other walkway headed south past the so called Smuggler’s Cave and then on an elevated walkway to oyster beds.

Mr Kelly said: ‘The two sides of the resort, separated by the stream coming down through the glen, were owned by different people hence there were two cafes, amusements stalls and rival entertainment but never a mention of sea lions.’

The former Port Soderick Hotel, revived in the mid-1990s as the Anchor pub under the ownership of celebrity chef Kevin Woodford but sold in 2002 to a private owner, was put on the market in the summer by a UK property agency, including 0.7 acres of potentially developable land.

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