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The Cliftonville Scheme of 1903 or Later


Fortunately, the scheme which Saunderson drew up in 1891 for the Douglas Bay Estate never came into being, but, at a later date he produced his Cliftonville scheme. This plan, like that proposed for the Douglas Bay Estate, was produced as a sales promotional publication. It names the coast road as the King Edward Road and this name was in use in 1903 following the visit of Edward VII in the previous year. The owners of the estate are given as The Howstrake Estate Ltd., of 8, Finch Road, Douglas, who had become the successors of The Douglas Bay Estate Co. in 1903.

There is a seaside resort called Cliftonville near Margate in Kent. Baillie Scott was born at Ramsgate, less than five miles from Cliftonville, and it is possible that he might have suggested the name to Saunderson for his proposed development at Howstrake.

The scheme was to take in an area bordered to the North by the King Edward Road for about six to seven hundred yards from Leafield and Braeside to almost as far as Lag Birragh Drive, and seaward to what is now Majestic Drive. Set apart from any other residential areas, it would have amounted to a small isolated hamlet. Sixty-seven dwellings were planned, together with a large building to be named Clifton Castle, a hydropathic establishment. The only other houses in the area were Leafield and Braeside on the King Edward Road, completed in 1897, and which would have formed a visually integral part of the development, and View Park Mansion, completed in 1893 and later to become the Majestic Hotel, which was a short distance away.

The sizes of the individual building plots varied from 720 square yards to 1,300, and averaged 1,012 square yards, with a further 11,350 square yards set aside for Clifton Castle, a total area, excluding roadways and landscaping features, of nearly 17 acres. Seventeen of the dwellings were to be detached and twenty-five pairs of semi-detached houses were planned. An artist's bird's eye impression of the development accurately shows the existing Leafield and Braeside Villas. The proposed dwelling houses were varied in design and compatible in appearance with Leafield and Braeside and were in styles similar to that of Baillie Scott but they were not his work. Twelve plots numbered 56-67 were to be on the North side of King Edward Road separated from the railway line by a grass verge, as are the present-day houses there. The remaining fifty-five plots were to the South of the King Edward Road. Near the clifftop, above Brither Clip Gut and on the site occupied by Majestic View, was to have been the turreted Clifton Castle with three round towers and a square keep-like tower in the style of a mediaeval castle. At the foot of the cliff below Clifton Castle was to be a bridge, in similar style, leading to the rocky islet at Brither Clip Gut.

Professor J.D. Kornwolf, in his book on Scott's work, comments on this Cliftonville scheme: "..This plan, prepared after Leafield and Braeside were built, is little more than a totally uninspired multiplication seventy times over of these and other houses by Baillie Scott..".

The word hydropathy used to describe the proposed Clifton Castle, is defined as medical treatment by external and internal application of water but, by that period, tended to mean sea-water bathing and its supposed health giving properties. The present Grand Island Hotel was originally the Ramsey Hydropathic Establishment and at the same time there was also the Mooragh Hydro on Ramsey's North Promenade. Clifton Castle would, in reality, have been a high class hotel catering for the genteel and affluent, and possibly hypochondriacal, visitors from the wool and cotton towns of the North of England and not strictly a medical centre, although it might well have offered "..brine, Russian, vapour, steam, douche and other baths.." which were available at the Dalmeny Brine Baths Hydro in Ramsey in 1907.

The plan showed a new road, Clifton Drive, which was to start at the Gate Lodge of View Park Mansion. This was to follow the present coastal path, Raad ny Foillan, seaward of the grounds of View Park Mansion and gradually curving North to join King Edward Road a little short of what is now Lag Birragh Drive. There would have been no residences, as there are now, built directly on the cliff tops. Clifton Crescent was to run down from a point a little beyond Leafield Villa on the King Edward Road to join Clifton Drive and to form a loop road. A cul-de-sac, Clifton Road, was planned to run West from part way along Clifton Crescent in the direction of View Park Mansion.