Island in the Great War

– Posted on Wednesday 13th August 2014

On Sunday 17th August Cregneash will be taking visitors back 100 years to experience what life was like for the Manx people during the First World War. The event is part of the annual action-packed Island at War weekend on the Isle of Man Steam Railway, where the popular 1940s wartime events will centre around Douglas, Castletown and Port Erin stations. On the Sunday visitors can take bus service number 28 from the events at Port Erin to Cregneash to experience life 30 years earlier.

Helen Ashcroft, Site Manager at Cregneash says;

“To mark the centenary year, and as part of our efforts to tell the Island’s First World War story, we thought this year was a great opportunity to highlight the stories of the farming and fishing community caught up in the national struggle.

The event will have a very different feel to our Second World War events from previous years, and we hope we can encourage visitors to see how this momentous event impacted the Isle of Man”.

Manx agriculture flourished during the war and all surplus produce and livestock were exported to England. Internees were made to work on the farm. And later conscription affected the farming community although appeals were made for skilled workers such as blacksmiths to receive exemption.

In a letter from 1916 John Kermode, President of the Farmer’s Club on the Isle of Man wrote:

‘..young blacksmiths in the Island would do much towards the achievement of victory in their present occupations than if sent to the army, because farmers cannot do their work unless their implements and machines are kept in repair.’

As part of the event, Labyrinth History in Action players will bring these and other First World War stories to life on a walking theatre tour around the village. Tours depart 12:30, 14:30 and 16:30 and are bookable on arrival at Cregneash.

The Isle of Man Cadets, 1st Arbory Scouts and Castletown Metropolitan Band will lead a recruitment parade march through the village at 13:30 and 15:30, and the call for volunteers will go out as it would have done in 1914.

Admission tickets are £6 adults, £3 students/ child and can be purchased in advance from the Manx Museum Gallery Shop and online. They will also be available at Port Erin Bridson Street and Cregneash on the day of the event. The ticket includes the theatre tours and a free return journey on service bus number 28, departing from Port Erin Bridson Street at 12:00, 13:00, 14:20, 15:00 and 16:00.

If visitors have a particular interest in the war at sea, Adrian Corkhill, author of the book “Hostile Sea” will lead a walk on the story of the German U-Boat offensive around the Isle of Man during the First World War. Participants will be guided around the coastline near Cregneash and learn about the drama of events 100 years ago when German U-Boats attacked and sank ships within sight of the Isle of Man’s southern coastline. The walk covers the sinking of the SS Downshire in February 1915, HMS Champagne and HMT Waltham in October 1917, and the schooner Tommi in May 1918.

Adrian will lead the walk ‘Hostile Sea – A View from the Coast’ on Saturday 16th or Sunday 17th August at 10:30. Tickets are £6 available from the Manx Museum Gallery Shop and online.

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