Work to begin on design of a new all-weather heritage visitor attraction in Castletown

– Posted on Tuesday 17th January 2023

Proposals to create a vibrant new visitor experience in the south of the Island, including the relocation of the Peggy back to Castletown, have taken another step forward.

Manx National Heritage has announced the appointment of a multi-disciplinary design team to develop an all-weather heritage visitor attraction at the Nautical Museum.

The renovation will form part of a £5 million redevelopment scheme as Manx National Heritage aims to deliver a refreshed interpretation of the historic site, creating a memorable experience for locals and visitors alike.

The ambitious redesign will also see the return of the world-famous vessel, the Peggy, to a distinctive purpose-built boathouse which will be located at the heart of the site. The project has been designed to highlight the story of the Peggy and her owner/designer, George Quayle, along with the Island’s wider maritime history.

The appointed design team comprises a consortium of building and exhibition professionals with a track record in the successful delivery of architectural and exhibition design to the highest standards.

It will be led by Dannat Johnson Architects (DJA) and project managed by Fraser Randall who together completed two major new permanent exhibitions for the Imperial War Museum in London last year. DJA are also framework architects for the British Museum. The multi-disciplined design team also includes Exhibition designer Real Studios, which brings extensive experience in nautical gallery and exhibition design, with high-profile clients including the Mary Rose Trust and the Windermere Jetty Museum.

Connie Lovel, Executive Director at Manx National Heritage, said:

‘Manx National Heritage has undertaken a rigorous procurement procedure and, through the process of shortlisting and interviewing a number of very capable teams, we have selected an extremely experienced group of design professionals to work alongside us. They will manage this transformational project professionally, sensitively and to the highest standards of conservation.

‘The completed attraction will tell a variety of stories around different themes, focusing on the Island’s rich maritime heritage with the nautical history of 18th and 19th century Castletown and the unique story of the Peggy – the centrepiece of the redeveloped site.’

The Peggy is the oldest complete vessel on the UK National Register of Historic Vessels whose fleet are assessed for significance based on their age, design innovations, historical associations, level of originality, condition and rarity.

‘Manx National Heritage’s vision is to create an immersive all-weather family friendly visitor attraction with heritage at its heart, engaging with a diverse demographic and allowing visitors to journey through the original buildings and encounter the Peggy atmospherically displayed in a contemporary purpose-designed gallery,’ Connie continued.

‘We are striving to develop a world-class, fully accessible visitor experience at the Nautical Museum that will only serve to enhance the Isle of Man’s attractiveness as a destination and contribute to the long-term economic resilience of the wider visitor economy – supporting Government’s ‘Our Island Plan’ and Visit Isle of Man’s 10-year Visitor Economy Strategy.

‘We are now looking forward to an intensive creative and productive period working with our design team on an exciting project which will contribute to the rich cultural life of Castletown and the Isle of Man.’

Ranald Caldwell, Chairman of the Visit Isle of Man Agency, added:

‘Manx National Heritage’s redevelopment of the Nautical Museum site matches the ambition of Visit of Man as we endeavour to better serve the tourism sector and significantly increase our visiting population – championing the Island as a vibrant all-year round visitor destination.

‘The Isle of Man is already home to a diverse collection of heritage visitor attractions. Collectively the Nautical Museum and the Peggy are of great international significance with enormous potential for wider understanding. This is truly a transformative project for Castletown and the Isle of Man and one the Agency fully supports.’

— ENDS —

Editors notes:
In 2022 Manx National Heritage published a Q&A document which outlines the project’s progress. This can be accessed here:

A selection of visuals depicting the redevelopment of the Nautical Museum can be found here:

Internationally, Peggy is one of the world’s oldest surviving boats and the only surviving example of a small wooden yacht once found in their thousands around the western British Isles.

The preservation of the Peggy began in 2015 when she was carefully removed from the boat cellar of the Nautical Museum in Castletown to be stabilised, studied and conserved.

The full George Quayle Legacy Report to Tynwald and Statement of Significance is available on the Tynwald website here:

For further information, please contact:

James Davis Isle of Man Advertising & PR – 01624 620400
Manx National Heritage, Eiraght Ashoonagh Vannin, Manx Museum, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 3LY
Isle of Man Registered Charity No. 603

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