Banner

Back to the English Counties Page
Facts

ISLE OF MAN

The Isle of Man is not a county or borough. It is a self-governing dependency of the United Kingdom. The Head of State is Queen Elizabeth II.


Owlbut

Owlbut

Break
FUN FACTS

The Isle of Man is the 44th largest area if included among the counties and metropolitan boroughs of England.
The Isle of Man has the 48th highest population if included among the counties and metropolitan boroughs of England.
The Isle of Man is in 44th place for density of population if included among the counties and metropolitan boroughs of England.

  1. The Royal Connection
  2. The Isle of Man obviously has a royal connection as the British monarch is the head of State, although the island is self governing with its own parliament called the Tynwald. People have lived on the island for thousands of years. It was cut off from the British Isles at the end of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago. In the 5th century AD Gaelic people from the island of Ireland began to settle there.

    In 627AD King (see royal) Edwin of Northumbria conquered the Isle of Man. At the end of the 8th century the Vikings arrived. They made a big impression on the island and also founded the Tynwald, which claims to be over 1,000 years old and the longest continually serving parliament in the world. Between 1099 and 1103, King (royal) Magnus III of Norway reigned as King. In 1266 King (royal) Magnus VI of Norway gave the islands to Scotland. In 1290 King (royal) Edward I of England conquered the island but in 1313 Robert the Bruce (spiderman) took control. He lost it in 1314, Scotland won it back in 1317 and held it until 1333. It then went back and forth until 1346 when England took control although the Tynwald still had some control.

    In 1861 the Tynwald became the first national government to give women the right to vote in general elections, although this didn't apply to married women. In 1866 the Isle of Man gained limited home rule with elections to the House of Keys which is the lower house of the Tynwald, a bit like the House of Commons in England.

  3. Isle of Man Eats
  4. The traditional dish of the Isle of Man is known as Spuds and Herrin which to you and me is potatoes and herring which strikes me as being a kind of fish and chips. This dish is chosen because it supports the local farmers and fisherman who make a living from on and around the island. Fish and seafood are a major part of the everyday diet.

    To make this dish is really easy and so I thought I would tell you how to do it. By the way, if you remember our "eats" section from Northumberland you will know about the Craster kipper. Kippers are actually herrings that have been smoked and the Isle of Man is also famous for its kippers.

    However to make Spuds and Herrin this is what you need to do. Buy some salted herrings, one for each person. Soak them in fresh water overnight. Scrub your potatoes and cut them into pieces, about the size you can see in the picture. Put them in a large saucepan and barely cover with water. When the potatoes are half-cooked, probably about 10 to 15 minutes, lay the herring on top, and cook for another 10 minutes. Lift the herring out, drain the potatoes, place them on a plate with a slice of raw onion and a knob of butter and place herring on top

  5. Isle of Man VIPs
  6. Seven random people who were born on the Isle of Man in the last 100 years:-
    Barry Gibb (Singer, part of the BeeGees, his two brothers Robin and Maurice were also born there), Mark Cavendish (cyclist), Samantha Barks (Actor), Simon Lynch (Singer), Kevin Woodford (Chef), Amy Jackson (Model and Actor) and David Knight (Motor Cycle Racer).

  7. Now That's Weird
  8. Can you see anything unusual about the cat in the picture on the left? Look closely and you will see it is lacking something most domesticated cats have. In fact most feline animals have. It doesn't have a tail and cats such as this are known as Manx cats. The Manx is one of the oldest known cat breeds.

    Manx cats come in all coat colours and patterns, though all-white specimens are rare. The Manx cat is a skilled hunter, and often sought by farmers with rodent problems. They are said to be social, tame and active. They are, however, a declining breed on the island. The lack of a tail is a natural breeding occurrence and not all Manx cats have no tail. Some have normal-length tails and are known as "longies" while others have stumps and are called "stumpies". The completely tailless cats are called "rumpies" and a rumpy with a rise of bone at the end of her spine is called a "rumpy riser". The back of a Manx cat is higher than the front.

    There are many myths and legends about the Manx cat and why it doesn't have a tail. One of them is that the Manx was napping when Noah called all the animals into the ark. She woke up just as Noah was closing the door of the ark. She made it into the ark just in time but Noah accidentally closed the door on her tail, cutting it off entirely. Another story says that the cat is a result of breeding between a cat and a rabbit, which, so the story goes, explains why it has no or little tail, long hind legs and a sometimes hopping walk. There is a name for this make believe animal and it is called a cabbit. Just as well as the other way round it would be a rat and we already have some of those. Weird.

  9. It Happened Here
  10. The Isle of Man is probably most famous for the TT races which take place each year. TT stands for Tourist Trophy and the races are for motorbikes of varying sizes. The TT week lasts a week (no surprise there) but there is a week of practice beforehand. They usually takes place at the end of May, beginning of June.

    Motor racing began on the Isle of Man in 1904. At the time there was a 20mph speed limit on roads in Great Britain so the Isle of Man was asked if they would allow racing on their roads. This was agreed. The first races were for cars but soon bikes were racing. In 1907 the first Isle of Man TT race was over a 15 mile course but in 1911 the race moved to a new course which was just over 37 miles long and very similar to the one used today. You can see from the picture on the right that the course is very hilly and the races are held on public roads, meaning many safety features are installed just before the events.

    It is often called the most dangerous motor sport event in the world and there have been around 150 deaths since the races started. Nowadays the Manx roads are closed for some other races at different times of the year and, if you include these, the deaths rise to over 250.

    Unlike the races you know about, all the competitors do not start at the same time. They go off individually, usually at 1 minute intervals, and the race is more correctly known as a time trial. It makes it quite difficult to follow for spectators as the first bike through may not be leading. Having said that, the sight of powerful motorbikes racing through villages and towns is a fantastic spectacle. It is an amazing course and you can learn more about that in the next section.

  11. Richard Remembers
  12. I have only been to the Isle of Man once, on my first trip, but it was an unforgeable experience, sometimes in a nice way but it didn't start like that. Whilst you can fly to the Isle of Man, we took the more conventional way and went by boat. Normally this journey takes nearly four hours (it only takes an hour and a quarter from Dover to Calais to get to France) but, in those days, they also ran an overnight ferry which took nearer six hours. I have no idea if they sailed slower and went round in circles for a while but it meant you left Heysham near Liverpool at midnight and arrived bright and early on the Isle.

    You are actually sailing on the Irish Sea and this can get quite rough at times. September can be quite stormy, We went in September. It was the worst journey I have ever taken. Four of the six of us were seasick most of time. When we got to the Isle of Man the Captain came on the radio to announce that due to the weather conditions we could not get into the harbour and would have to stay outside and go up and down the coast for a bit. The bit lasted three hours and boy did we go up and down. At 8.00am they said breakfast would be served, none of us wanted any, but this may have been impossible as shortly afterwards there was the sound of much breaking crockery. But we made it; just. Funnily enough the journey back which we were all dreading was a day time one, took under four hours and the sea was as flat as a pancake.

    Putting the sea crossing behind us we then had a fantastic week on the island. It is only 32 miles long and 13 miles wide at its widest so we had the chance to visit most of the places. The capital, Douglas, was where we eventually landed and was a lovely town. There were, and may still be, horse drawn trams which could take you along the promenade. There was also a steam railway which ran from Douglas to Port Erin on the south west coast.

    Let me now take you on a journey clockwise around the island and tell you what I remember. Down from Douglas the first big town you come to is Castletown which used to be the capital until 1874. Unlike some named places there is still a castle there. On south from there and you reach the southernmost tip of the island and, just off this tip, is the uninhabited little island called the Calf of Man. Turn north and there are some beaches leading on from Port Erin and then something I can still see in my mind today. The lovely waterfall at Glen Maye. An amazing coincidence is that the Waterfall Hotel is right nearby. Onwards and then you come to the town of Peel. My memories are that I loved Peel, an old fishing harbour with narrow streets, dominated by the vast fortress of Peel castle.

    Just inland from Peel is St John's which was the old meeting place of the Tynwald, the island's parliament. It still meets there, or did in the eighties, once a year in July to hear the new acts of parliament being read out by the island's two High Court Judges, called Deeemsters. You then travel along this coast right up to the northern most point of the island known as Point of Ayre. Here there was a lighthouse and it was quite a desolate place on a drizzly, windy day in September.

    Turning south, a good idea otherwise you end up in the sea, you head back toward Douglas passing through Ramsey, more in a minute, and then coming across the Laxey Wheel. This is a giant water-wheel built in 1854 to pump water out of the lead mine workings nearby. It is the largest surviving waterwheel of its kind in the world. Also known as the Lady Isabella after the wife of the island's governor at the time, it is, apart from the TT, the island's most dramatic tourist attraction.

    You then find yourself back at Douglas which is also where the start of the TT races takes place. Now you may know I am a bit of a speed freak so we had to take a drive around the entire TT course. It was an amazing experience and my most vivid memory, if I went the correct way, was how tight the corners were when the course went through the town of Ramsey. The current lap record for the course is held by Peter Hickman who took 16 minutes 42.778 seconds to cover the 37.73 mile course. In our motorhome I took a bit longer; OK a lot longer.

    The highest point on the Isle of Man is Snaefell at 2,036 feet and therefore over 2,000 feet and officially a mountain. You could take a half hour journey on the Snaefell Mountain Railway to get to the summit. It has been running since 1895 and is the only electric mountain railway in the British Isles. And from that summit it is said that you are standing in the only place on earth were you can see the kingdoms of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at the same time. Of course you have to have almost three hundred and sixty degree vision but if you haven't, just spin round very quickly. You'll feel a bit dizzy but no different from being on the Isle of Man ferry in a storm. Promise.

  13. Owlbut's Birdwatch
  14. The red billed chough, pronounced chuff, is a member of the crow family but unlike any others of that family. Apart from being red, its beak is of medium length, curved and of medium thickness. It has black feathers and its legs are brown, orange and red. It can only be found on the west of the British Isles and there are about 150 pairs on the Isle of Man. They can put on wonderful displays of flying, diving and swooping. They eat insects and larvae.

    The red billed chough is 40cms in length, has a wingspan of between 73 and 90cms and can weigh between 260 and 350 grams. They are usually seen around rocky coasts with short grassland but also on farmland. They can be seen all year round.

We have asked the local Tourist Board(s) for a small contribution (50 pounds) to the cost of running this project and, in anticipation of their agreement, we are providing a link to their site(s) for the next five years. I can assure you we won't see anywhere near everything when we are there, so, if you fancy taking a trip to the Isle of Man check it (them) out for some great information. Apart from anything else it will get you out in the fresh air, walking around and one day you might be over 70 and still enthusiastically mobile.

All figures the latest available as at July 2020