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Howstrake
The  Butt

 

Throughout these notes reference will, at times, be made to The Butt which is the name by which Church Road is known locally. Previous suggestions as to the origin of this name have included those of the late Neil Mathieson. One was that there might have been a possible association with archery. However, he thought this unlikely. The other was that the name in the Isle of Man is used for the strip of land on which a plough turns at the edge of a field.

The name does appear elsewhere on the Island, notably in Patrick and German. A notice in the Manx Advertiser of 28th September 1826 referred to a sale at "..Ashe Lodge (commonly known as The Butt) between St John's and Kirk Patrick church..". This site is at map reference 257 819 on the road from St John's to Patrick village. Gill's First Manx Scrapbook notes a locality in German known as "Butt a Joe" described as "..a prominent ridge extending from near Ballashimmin South-East for upwards of half a mile..". Gill gives the origin of this name as meaning a ridge and deriving from the Gaelic "Buta". Ballashimmin appears to be the locality shown on the Ordnance maps as Ballahimmin, at 319 852, a little to the south of Little London. Both Ashe Lodge and Ballahimmin have a ridge to the south.

In 1994, Mr Peter Kelly, in his "Kelly's Eye" program on Manx Radio, provided the correct origin of the Onchan Butt. He had noted references in the minute books of the village commissioners to "the butts". These indicated a locality on the Douglas side of the junction of Church Road and Main Road. The site had been known as Gara-na-Cheberagh, (probably from Garroo Chibberagh), meaning a piece of rough land near a well. Before the days of piped water, the supply of pure drinking water had been a problem and wells were sunk to provide a source. Sinking a well was an expensive operation and those who had done so would sell water to those who did not have their own supply.

As an example of the sale of supplies of water, The Manx Advertiser of 4th February 1815 carried an announcement stating that "..Thos. Cottier gives notice that he has taken the Rock Spring Well at How-side....which supplies the best water about Douglas. Constant supplies will be delivered daily...".

There was a well at the junction of Church Road and Main Road and its owner maintained a supply to hand in water butts. Another well, and water butts, was located opposite Corkill's Garage at the other end of Main Road. In time, and presumably after they had disappeared, the plural "Butts" became the singular "Butt" and the term continued in use, its origin forgotten, to indicate Church Road.