A new theatrical tour on Sunday 25 and Monday 26 May will look at the impact of the Great War on Island life, bringing a new dimension to a visit to The Grove in Ramsey. Stories and ‘gossip’ have been drawn from the Ramsey Courier and the Gibb family archives from 1910 – 1919, and will be brought to life by Labyrinth: History in Action Players in a walking theatrical production. Timed tours will take place at 12noon, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm each day, and numbers are limited.
In 1910 there were three ladies in residence at the Grove, the family matriarch Auntie Janet, and her two nieces Janet and Alice. The Edwardian ladies lived a happy and peaceful life at their family home in Ramsey, but these days were brought to an abrupt halt by the outbreak of the First World War. It was the single most important event in the lives of the two young nieces. It affected not just them, but also their entire social circle. For four years the comfortable and safe environment which they had known since childhood was turned upon its head. Janet reflected upon the First World War in an interview in 1973:
“There wasn’t a man or boy of fighting age left in Ramsey. The whole male population had gone. Ramsey came second to a place in Scotland for the highest proportion of its males serving with the armed forces. Ramsey men and girls all went.”
Katie King, event coordinator said;
“The historic house is a great stage to bring to life the local stories throughout this momentous decade of change. There’s some fascinating source material in the newspapers, from the onset of the Great War to the day-day happenings and hearsay. It has also given us a wonderful opportunity to reveal more about the lives of Janet and Alice Gibb. We are delighted that our talented Labyrinth players will be bringing the stories to life. The tours will be an interesting mix of guided tour and theatrical interpretation – which we think everyone will enjoy.”
Alice Gibb, the younger and perhaps more adventurous of the two sisters worked as a supervisor at Chilwell shell-filling factory near Nottingham. During her time there, there was a major explosion which killed many girls. Alice was awarded a medal for bravery which recited her indifference to her own safety. Janet reflected on the shock Alice felt to be mixing with working people:
“Of course it was an eye opened for Alice, because she had never seen such filthy people… she said the lockers where the women kept their clothes were crawling.”
The Gossip Tours will reveal more interesting gems from the Gibbs sisters’ archives, but will also reveal stories from Ramsey life. Including the excitement of the 1914 army recruitment drives; how the sinking of the HMS Goliath in 1915 threw the town into chaos; the tragic death of the Ramsey war hero Lieutenant Colonel William Crellin from Andreas; and how the persistent rooks at St Paul’s Church were proving very tiresome indeed to the local community.
Tickets for the tours are £6 per person and are available in advance from the Manx Museum Gallery Shop and