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The Purchase Of The Howstrake Estate


In 1889 Bruce, the Banker, and Saunderson, the engineer, proposed ambitious developments for Howstrake, which its former owner, the late Samuel Callow, had left in trust prior to his death. In 1888 John Travis had been appointed as trustee of the estate after the death of James Kewley, the original trustee. During the summer of 1891 Saunderson began negotiations with Travis regarding the sale of the Howstrake estate.

A problem to be overcome was the fact that Douglas Town Commissioners, under the Douglas Foreshore and Town Act of 1886, were owners of a part of the coastline over which Saunderson proposed to run his railway. Another obstacle was that The Derby Castle Company Ltd. operated pleasure grounds, an iron pier and an entertainment pavilion on the site of what is now the Summerland complex. In 1888 they had come to an agreement with the Town Commissioners. Under this the company was permitted to enclose a portion of the foreshore and to build a promenade on this frontage of their property. This they had not so far done.

Saunderson reached an agreement with Travis regarding the sale of Howstrake but here also there were complications. The Callow trust deed of 1865 had been lost. In addition, not all of the provisions of the proposed agreement between Travis and Saunderson were within the powers conferred by the trust deed. Although an indenture for the sale was signed on 13th January 1892, it was agreed that this would be void unless it was confirmed by an Act of Tynwald.

However daunting these obstacles may have appeared, in the event, they were all successfully overcome. John Travis put Saunderson's plans before a Committee of Tynwald and on 22nd March 1892 an act was passed which enabled the construction of a sea wall along the foreshore at Derby Castle. The agreement with Travis for the sale of the Howstrake Estate was confirmed by the Act. This involved a complicated system of ground rents and the release of the land in blocks of fifty acres as full payment was made for each block. A total sum of £26,400 would be required to buy the estate and this was in addition to the ground rents paid in the meantime.

Finally, Saunderson agreed with the Derby Castle Company to take over the agreement with the Town Commissioners permitting the enclosure of a part of the foreshore and to provide the company with a plot of land in the area which he intended to reclaim from the sea.

The Howstrake Act, promulgated on 5th July 1892, provided amongst other things, for the construction of roads and buildings and the electric railway as far as Groudle. Saunderson did not have sufficient capital of his own to finance this vast scheme and it was necessary to form a company, The Douglas Bay Estate Ltd. This had a capital of £50,000. and its object was to purchase Saunderson's rights to develop the land in accordance with the agreement made with John Travis. The subscribers to the company were Saunderson, Thomas Fleming, Frederick George Callow, Edward F. Thomas, Alfred James Lusty, Richard Evans and Frederick Vaughan. Saunderson was paid £13,350. for the transfer of his rights under the agreement with Travis and the estate company assumed responsibility for the ground rents. The purchase of the Howstrake Estate took place on 10th September 1892 and additional finance was obtained through a mortagage to Lusty for £80,000. and a further mortgage to Travis, in November 1893, for £7,200.