Tourism glory days celebrated in display

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The glory days of southern tourism are celebrated in a new exhibition staged in Port St Mary town hall by Rushen Heritage Foundation. It focuses on five famous southern hotels - the Balqueen, Perwick Bay, Belle View/Port Erin Royal, Falcon’s Nest, and the Bay Port Erin.

‘This exhibition builds on the small pilot exhibition at Thie Rosen in second half of March 2015,’ said trust member Hugh Davidson. ‘This was designed to bring in local people with their memories and artefacts about the glory days of southern tourism. This initiative was very successful in bringing in new memories and contacts with older people, some of whom we have interviewed since.

‘We have now built on this local initiative to build a larger and more ambitious exhibition about these five famous Southern hotels, especially in the “Glory days of Southern Tourism” across the twentieth century.’

Since last autumn, a group of eight amateurs (Jonathan Latimer, Barbara Guy, Sylvia Jarrett, Rosemary Latimer, Graham Hall, Brian and Kathleen Trustrum, and Professor Davidson), who comprise the Heritage Action Team (HAT) researching tourism have been working closely together preparing the ground for the exhibitions.

The product of their research is featured on information boards with details such as the Balqueen (run by the Kelly family from 1913 to 1965), was for most of this period one of the leading resort hotels in the north of the British Isles.

There were some fine entrepreneurs and big personalities in the history of Rushen tourism, including the Kellys especially Anníe, and her son Walter; Bobby Littler and Charlie Ward at the Balqueen; Doris Nelson, owner operator of the Bay for 60 years, still behind the bar at 90 years old, then Martin Brunnschweiler in more recent years; Mr Scrimgeour, Mona Quillin, and Ken and Margaret Ives at the Perwick Bay Hotel; Gilbert Robertshaw, then Jack Wilson and Sue Gowing at the Belle Vue/Royal; Brian Trustrum’s grandfather at the Falcon’s Nest in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, and Mr and Mrs Bob Potts in more recent decades.

A lot of famous people stayed at the Belle Vue/Port Erin Royal, most involved with the Erin Arts Centre. Also some well known locals, like Chris Robertshaw MHK who worked for his father there in the 1970s; David Saunders, lead singer, later head of retail at Isle of Man Bank; Tony Brown, later chief minister; Dennis Maxwell, later head of customs and excise, a barman of legendary skills.

This is the second major exhibition this year to be run by the trust. The first, ‘Friend or Foe’ about the women’s internment camps during the Second World War, held at St Catherine’s Hall Port Erin was a great success, with over 3,000 visits.

He thanked sponsors the Gough Rítchíe Trúst for its support.

The display also christens the town hall’s newly refurbished west room, a facility for exhibitions and a variety of public and private events.

The exhibition runs from July 13 to 26, 10.30am to 4.30pm daily.

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