The agricultural community is mourning a stalwart of the industry.

John Quilliam died at the age of 90 at the Salisbury Street Nursing Home, where he was living after being treated in hospital for a fall.

He was born in Peel in July 1933 and later lived in Brighton Terrace and then Kingswood Grove, Douglas, before moving to Santon.

The family were entrepreneurial. Grandfather John Scott moved from Cumberland to deal horses and bought farms in the island and later ran charabancs from Douglas Promenade for tourists.

His family also ran a coal yard in Harris Terrace, Douglas, and then had a farm at Mount Murray, where the Comis Hotel development now stands. It was mainly a poultry farm, selling eggs.

John’s sister, Kate, said: ‘Mother could see the coal business wasn’t for John. When John left school at the age of 15, mother bought this patch of land at Mount Murray (30 acres).

‘He learned the trade with a very good Manx farmer, Claude Collister of Ballavartyn,’ said Kate.

He also earned money by shooting rabbits and selling them to butchers. Indeed, with that money he bought the family’s first television set.

His mother Annie, who had been a school teacher, farmed with John and later bought Ballagick in Santon.

It was here that John bred pedigree cattle, taking some gambles in procuring cattle. Most of the gambles paid off.

But the family weren’t always so lucky. A number of cattle died after licking some lead paint. It took a while before the vets worked out what was going on.

‘He built a big, indoor barn, which was amazing in those days,’ Kate recalled. ‘Farmers didn’t splash out like that in the 50s.’

After his pedigree cattle business, he grew hay and potatoes and set up the clay pigeon shooting range at Broogh Fort, which was still in operation only two years ago.

He also represented the Isle of Man in 1972 in Australia in the Commonwealth Games, which was detailed in last week’s Manx Independent.

For his 90th birthday, his family arranged for a book to be published, which he wrote about his life ‘as told to Fiona Cregeen’. Its title was Coal, Cattle and Clays, reflecting big parts of his life.

Kate said: ‘He was kind, he was funny, he was positive and he was very generous with his time.

‘If you came to him with a question, he would positively devote himself to you to find an answer it, to help you.

‘So many people will remember him as a coach for clay shooting. He was so positive, he kind of made you do it with the force of his personality.’

His family was well-known in different circles. His father, George ‘Alan’ Quilliam, was clerk to Peel Town Commissioners, his grandfather was deputy chief constable and his an older sister the late Anne became a vicar.

‘John would be the first to say that he did have a wonderful life,’ said Kate. ‘He achieved such a lot in his time.’

John leaves sister Kate, nephew Jon, niece Sarah and their families.

A service to celebrate John’s life will be held at the Douglas Borough Crematorium this Friday, November 10, at 2.45pm.