Plaque in honour of Manxman who founded the BBC

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Friday 20th May 2022 4:27 am
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Organisers of the placement of a Castletown plaque in remembrance of a founder of the BBC are looking for his descendants to attend the ceremony.

Sir Frank Gill was a vital part in the creation of the BBC, which has now been running for nearly 100 years.

He is said to have ensured competing factions worked together to create a single organisation.

Volunteer group Castletown Heritage has been working with local author and historian Bob Stimpson of the Isle of Man Victorian Society to recognise Sir Frank’s accomplishments.

He received his knighthood for services to telecommunications in 1941 – he was labelled by Americans as the greatest telephone engineer in the world.

Sir Frank was born in 1866 to advocate Henry Corlett Gill and mother Gertrude Holmes Clastor Gill. Their home at The Parade is the modern Co-op store today.

Sir Frank’s mother Gertrude’s maiden name was Claxton and she died in Blackrock, Dublin, on January 4, 1925.

Her brother Robert H Claxton was also a telephone engineer. Her sister Ellen was the wife of cotton broker and telephone company director Joseph P Morgan and they lived in Childwall, Wavertree, Liverpool.

Frank’s cousin was Hugh Hope Gill and both were initially educated at Santon Vicarage in the 1870s by Rev Gilmour Harvey. In 1895 Frank married advocate’s daughter Caroline Maude Beckwith and they had two children.

Daughter Iris Gertrude Florence Gill was born in 1896 in Dublin and later attended Cheltenham Ladies’ College. She travelled frequently around the world with her father when he worked in Japan and China, the USA and Canada.

Son Henry Hugh Beckwith Gill, otherwise known as Harry, was born in 1901 in Dublin. He married Daphne Maud Hayhurst in 1925 in Ulverston, Cumbria.

They had two daughters, Joy and Diana. Harry worked as a telephone engineer in the USA and India before returning to work in the UK.

Sir Frank lived in Shortlands, Kent, and died on October 25, 1950, in Geneva.

The ceremony will be on May 22. Lieutenant Governor Sir John Lorimer will unveil the plaque in The Parade, Castletown, at 3pm.

A number of MHKs will be attending and participating and two local schools are also involved.

Castletown Heritage has invited descendants of Sir Frank to take part in the ceremony, which will be open to everyone.

Anyone who thinks they might be related to Sir Frank should contact [email protected]

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