The word on the street: What members of the public think about Charles Guard’s views of tatty Douglas

We interview people on Strand Street

Tuesday 17th May 2022 5:19 am
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Public opinions on the state of Douglas - Julie Howatson (Onchan) and Sue Watt (Onchan)

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With local historian Charles Guard’s video on the current condition of Manx landmarks, such as Douglas promenade and Marine Drive, reaching a staggering 30,000 views this week, the Isle of Man Examiner asked the public whether they’d watched the viral video – available to watch on iomtoday.co.im – and what their views are on the state of the island ahead of hundreds of visitors arriving for TT 2022.

Mr Guard, who was recently awarded an MBE for services to Manx culture and heritage, said he released the ‘Welcome to the Isle of Man’ video with ‘some trepidation’ and showcasing the island in a less flattering light is something he’d never done before.

When asking members of the public on their views we always attempt to find a range of opinions, however everyone who had seen the 14-minute video, even those not willing to feature in the paper, agreed with Mr Guard’s points on the disrepair across Douglas.

Duncan Smith, from Ramsey, believes more could be done on the presentation of the island.

He said: ‘I’ve lived here for 15 years and the place has just deteriorated gradually in the whole of that time.’

‘Although nobody could’ve foreseen the storms knocking the walls down at the sunken gardens, it’s in the centre of town and supposed to be the showpiece for visitors, so you’d think they could get something sorted.’

Juan Corrin, from Douglas, said he was in ‘complete agreement’ with Charles Guard’s views on Douglas’ current state.

The 28-year-old said: ‘The promenade is the first thing people see when coming in off the boat, and people who live and work in Douglas see it every day, and it should be the hub and something we’re proud of.

‘Marine Drive is pretty dire too. I used to like a walk along there and a lot of people go on runs and walk their dogs there, and as Charles Guard says, if we built it we should be able to mend it.’

Niall Gibney, from Marown, and Feeagh Joughin, of Peel, believe the island’s presentation isn’t ready to welcome back visitors.

Mr Gibney, 20, said: ‘I agree with Charles Guard’s video, it’s just a mess at the minute.’

Mr Joughin, 20, added: ‘It’s not just Douglas with problems. Peel skate park has been torn down with no actual plan of what’s to be put there next, so that could definitely use some work.’

Sue Watt and Julie Howatson, of Onchan, believe the viral video is a fair reflection of Douglas and the capital is in a sorry state.

Ms Watt said: ‘I think it’s very sad really to see the way Douglas has gone, it’s such a shame.

‘Particularly the promenade with the gardens, because we like to sit in there on a nice day and who’s going to want to sit in them now.’

Ms Howatson added: ‘I was walking at Marine Drive last week, and generally it’s sort of pleasant enough but there are things, like the railings, that aren’t safe really.’

Daphne Caine, MHK for Garff, who has raised concerns over the current state of the Isle of Man ahead of welcoming visitors, says that although she ‘appreciates some people may be upset at the content of Charles Guard’s video’, she felt it was ‘very balanced and like having a critical friend.’

She continued: ‘I find that after working in tourism and promoting the Isle of Man to visitors for 10 years, I was appalled at the general tattiness and as Charles said, complete lack of pride that we seem to be taking in our island.’

‘I think it was a really valuable thing to put it in that video, and I’m delighted after speaking to Mr Crookall, Minister for Infrastructure, that his officers were out and about accessing what improvements can hopefully be made.’

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