Each month, Breesha Maddrell, director of Culture Vannin, looks at the journey of Manx culture and its importance to our sense of identity and belonging.

As I look back at 40 years of the Manx Heritage Foundation and Culture Vannin, I am struck by the power of the stories that have been told, especially those which we have been lucky enough to record in one way or another.

As regular readers of this column will know, stories are at the heart of culture and community; they bring us together across time and 

What stands out from those early years of the Foundation is the pioneering work of Charles Guard in capturing the Isle of Man on film.

Charles is one of life’s gifted story-tellers, whether through music, radio or TV, and he fully embraced the opportunity to develop, present and produce short films at a time when not many people were doing so here.

He knew that young people in particular needed film as a way of understanding their island, researching, scripting, producing and presenting educational videos, often in 
collaboration with Alex Brindley.

Over the years, Charles put various teams together to capture what might have seemed perfectly ordinary at the time, but which, decades later, prove fascinating viewing.

Through his ‘curiosities’ series he helped unlock hidden places like the secret bank vault in Castletown, which has had over 1.4 million views on YouTube alone.

Back in May 2022, we released a collection of 40 historical films that focused on important buildings, events and services which have now disappeared, or which have changed radically.

These include the final Manx Airlines flight in 2002, and a tour of the Summerland building in 2003 before its demolition.

Protests and festivals are also captured, as well as the development of new infrastructure such as the IRIS network, and the laying of a MEA national grid cable.

Today, films continue to be made as part of our development work, officers partnering with talented filmmakers to capture something beautiful or interesting, or to witness a significant change in island life.

They run alongside our oral histories and photographs which tell stories of their own, and which, we have no doubt, will be treasured by future generations, and by everyone interested in the Isle of Man around the world.

Some of my favourite films include performances by young people from Bree, Scran, and at the Manx Folk Awards, and by all ages at concerts and events.

I am fascinated by Keith Kennaugh’s garden at Fleshwick, as well as more delicate films such as ‘Thatching Down South’ or ‘Cornaa’ which bring new ways to appreciate poetry, music and our beautiful landscapes.

Our online collection totals over 1,000 films, all freely available on the Culture Vannin website, or on our YouTube and Vimeo channels – what will you discover next?