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Howstrake Golf Links Hotel - 1921


Formerly the Howstrake farm house, erected between around 1855 and 1869, the building was converted into an hotel from about 1921. In the March of that year the Howstrake Estates Ltd. made an application to the licensing court and stated that " was the intention of the management to convert the present nine-hole golf course to an 18 hole course, and to extend the "farm-house" hotel from a seven-room building to a thirty-roomed one. The extensions would not be completed until the Spring of next year..". Onchan Commissioners commented that the project was "..likely to attract to the Island a better class of visitor..". (People really did use that expression in the heyday of Manx tourism). However, the application was not approved on the grounds that it was premature as completion of the work would take a further year. The Howstrake company was advised that the decision would not prejudice a further application in due course.

The company made another application in March 1922 for a general public house license and gave evidence that "..the reconstruction had been completed but they had not built a new wing as proposed, in the hope that building prices might fall. A path had been made from the hotel to the links and it was mainly intended to run the hotel in conjunction with the links. In previous years, golfers had complained that the company hadn't accommodation to give them lunch..". It was also stated that "..they would have an 18 hole course ready in 1923. The place had eight bedrooms and there was dining room accommodation for 36 people..". A suggestion by The Manx Temperance Federation that the Hotel Majestic might be more convenient to golfers brought the retort by the Howstrake company that it was their golf links and they wanted the benefit of it. Perhaps not surprisingly, the application was refused.

By 1923 the ownership of the hotel had passed to the Groudle Glen and Hotel Co. Ltd. and an advertisement in the Guide of that year described the hotel as having "..all modern comforts - Billiards, Dance Room, Electric Light, Central Heating, Private Garages.." and stated that "..the Electric Car stops at Onchan Head where a path through a field leads direct to the Hotel and Links..". In the grounds were tennis courts, a putting green and "..situated near is a bathing creek..", [at Port Jack]. A bowling green had been added to the hotel's amenities by 1926 and the hotel offered home farm produce which might indicate that some land, probably to the West of Harbour Road, had been retained by the farm after Bank's Howe itself had been converted into a golf links.

In a photograph of the period the hotel appears as a country mansion surrounded by tall pine trees and lawns. To the right of the South elevation were a pair of bay windows to the height of both the hotel's storeys, surmounted by an eye-brow like curve in the line of the hipped roof above. To the left was a steeply pitched gabled roof section. The Eastern facade had an austere appearance relieved by a conservatory-like canopy over the entrance. On the slate roof facing East the hotel's name was prominently displayed in large letters. As well as its residential activities the hotel catered to golfers on the adjacent course, then also owned by the Groudle Glen and Hotel Co., with lunches and teas.

The hotel also ran a nine hole miniature golf course extending to around six acres. This was sited seaward of Sunningdale Drive on the area which now comprises Eskdale Road and King Edward Park. The course is shown on the street map in the visitors' guide to Onchan which was published in 1934.

During the latter part of the 1930s, Mr Morris Forrester of Harold Tower, Douglas, had the tenancy of the hotel. It was Mr Forrester's family who had established the popular resort of Port Soderick at the end of the Marine Drive to the South of Douglas. At about this period he made arrangements by which golfers could play on either the Fort Anne links or at Howstrake.

In 1940 the Falcon Cliff Hotel in Douglas, owned by Leo and Ellen Kane, was commandeered for use as a hospital for internees. Their daughter, Eva Kane, recalled in an interview on Manx Radio, that her mother had gone out to buy the food rations for the hotel and had bought the Howstrake Hotel instead! This change in ownership was reported in The Examiner of 3rd January 1941. Advertisements in The Examiner Annuals show that the Howstrake Hotel was run by the Kane family until 1950. In that year a company, The Howstrake Golf Links Hotel Ltd, whose shareholders were Ian J.W. McAdam and his wife, acquired the property, subject to a mortgage from the Kane family. However, the takeover was not a success and in January 1952 Mrs Ellen Kane called in the mortgage and McAdam's company was wound up. Mrs Kane resumed ownership and under a slogan of "Kanies got something here!" ran the hotel until 1956.

After completion of the repair work, which involved re-roofing in a different style and the gutting and restructuring of the internal layout, the premises re-opened on 14th April 1992 as "Molly's Kitchen" and was described as having "..a comfort level superior to a steak house but less formal than a restaurant..". The re-building was said to have cost between £500,000 and £600,000. The venture was named after Molly Carrooin whose cottage, built in the 1700s at the nearby Butt, is now preserved. Molly and her sister were washerwomen but a tongue-in-cheek legend was created for the new establishment which bears her name in which she was credited with superb culinary skills.