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Onchan Village And Howstrake - Mid Nineteenth Century


The Ordnance Survey of the Island, which took place between 1864 and 1869, shows just how tiny the village of Onchan was at that time. There were a few houses on the Main Road, including Hawthorn Villa, now the offices of the District Commissioners, and the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. Going down the Butt, (lower Church Road), near its junction with Main Road there was a Post Office and a smithy. A little further down on the left or Northern side, was the Infants' School and, on the right, the Parochial School. Coming up out of the Butt, towards the junction of Harbour Road and Groudle Road, on the left was the existing Vicarage, built in about 1845, On the right was the present St. Peter's Church which was consecrated in 1833. Beyond the Church were a few cottages. The Groudle Road ran off to the left and continued to the beach at Groudle. Ahead, to the South, was Harbour Road, a cul-de-sac, which ran straight down to Onchan Harbour, and finished there on the beach.

At the top of Harbour Road were the farm buildings or Howstrake stables which were rebuilt by around 1815. These were demolished in the 1980s and replaced with two modern houses, The Old Stables and Coach House, whose entrance gate pillars with their horse's head ornaments remind us of the site's earlier purpose. Further down on the right was the Howstrake Farm house and, almost opposite and to seaward of this, a farm track, also a cul-de-sac, ran Easterly across the Howe for about three quarters of a mile. Apart from the main Douglas to Ramsey highway which ran up Burnt Mill Hill, now Summerhill, and continued along Main Road and Whitebridge Road, there were no other roads.

The coast was entirely undeveloped. A road, along the edge of the Bay from Douglas, continued up Summerhill with a branch from this running on to Derby Castle and, apart from a building in what is now the Manx Electric Railway depot yard just above Summerland, there were no buildings or roads until Groudle. Port Jack and Onchan Harbour were undeveloped creeks, although in each of them the Ordnance Survey marks unsuccessful lead mines. To the East of Onchan Harbour the Ordnance map names Brither Clip Gut, Lag Birragh and Port Groudle.

At Groudle, on what is now the Northern part of the car park, was a corn mill powered by a mill race which took its water by way of a sluice from the Groudle river. This may well have been the mill referred to as the Mill of Crawdale in the 1511 Manorial Roll.