A Walk Round St Johns – 12 August 2009

Psychic phenomenon apart, most of us can only be in one place at one time. A wonderful family holiday took us across for most of July, so I missed what proved to be a delightful walk up Colby Glen with Brian Rae. This trip is one that ought to be repeated. Thanks, Brian.

The Trust is at its most healthy during the summer with outdoor trips. The last of these adventures has just taken place with part two of our conducted tours around St Johns, with John Kennaugh.

A lovely evening saw the Arboretum car park full and John surrounded by a cheery throng, including many who had the benefit of sharing his childhood memories. This included my wife and her sister. I envy them and many of their friends who can still enjoy this sense of continuity and the sense of stability that it brings. What a contrast to the harum scarum, fragmented life that so many lead today!

John began by pointing out that the car park was once the farmyard to the house next door and that the single storied building on the other side was a slaughterhouse with the butchers next door. This was in pre-abattoir days when slaughtering was a natural part of the farming cycle. The original church school, now housing a Tynwald exhibition, was pointed out, as was the pinfold opposite where stray animals were penned until the owners paid a fine for their release. The church wasn’t a parish church, when built, the village being cared for by St German’s, now the cathedral, in Peel. The church was designated a Royal Chapel in 1961. This date was commented upon as Helen and I were told by Canon Dixon, that our marriage was the first event recorded in the new register. It’s good to be first, somewhere!

We looked at the boundary wall to the processional way, noting that a stone had been removed from the stile, in 1945, to save King George V1 and his Queen from having to climb over. This is opposite the start for the original TT. Plaques commemorate this on the walls of Nikki and Nigel’s splendid restaurant, due to open at any moment.

Crossing the road we passed over our stolen railways at St John’s junction, furiously busy for many years with the Peel – Douglas, St John’s to Ramsey and Foxdale lines. What madness grips the minds that fail to revive the Douglas link, at least. Multi-storey car parks and fancy traffic schemes probably cost more – certainly environmentally!

From the Patrick Road we crossed the Foxdale line, descending into the glorious but under-visited Forestry park, noting the splendid shooting range at one end and the new DAFF headquarters nearing completion.

Just enough space to mention the 14thc, courthouse opposite the football and cricket clubs and the mill, behind, before recording, once again, our thanks to John.

John Slater