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Howstrake
The Royal Visit - 1902

 

On the afternoon of Sunday, 24th. August 1902, H.M. Yacht Victoria and Albert, escorted by the cruiser H.M.S. Crescent and two small torpedo boat destroyers, arrived unexpectedly in Douglas Bay carrying King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The visit was unscheduled and the King was cruising privately and for the purpose of convalescing after an illness which had necessitated the postponement of his coronation. Mr. A.W. Moore, Speaker of the Keys, who by chance was in the vicinity, went out to welcome the Royal visitors, as Lord Raglan, the Lieutenant-Governor designate had not yet arrived in the Island, and the Acting Governor, Sir James Gell, was absent from Douglas at the time. Probably because of the vast number of small boats which by now filled the bay, the Royal Yacht then sailed on to Ramsey.

On the following day their Majesties came ashore at Ramsey and travelled by carriage by way of Sulby and Bishop's Court to Peel, and then, by St. Johns, to Douglas, and along the thronged Promenades to the terminus of the electric tramway at Derby Castle. Here they arrived at 6.10 PM and were met by the Guard of Honour and Band of the 7th. Volunteer Battalion (Isle of Man) of the King's Liverpool Regiment and by local dignitaries. A booklet reprinted from the Isle of Man Examiner of 30th. August records that "the proprietors of the electric tramways system had provided a splendid saloon carriage for the accommodation of the King and Queen and their Majesties' suites, the interior being sumptuously upholstered and hung with royal purple". Considering the short notice, this was no mean feat on the part of the tramway management.

The King and Queen then travelled to Ramsey on the electric tram. No details are given of the journey except that they were cheered along the route. However, it may be assumed that their Majesties would have seen the Douglas Bay Hotel, the five dwellings in its vicinity, View Park Mansion, Leafield and Braeside, the golf club house, the Holiday Camp and the Groudle Hotel, which at that time were the only buildings existing on the route through Howstrake. The Daily Telegraph reported that "..for the first time...the people of the little Manx nation have seen their Sovereign upon their soil..", and such in fact was the case as Edward VII's visit was the first by a reigning monarch. Although Prince Albert had come ashore at Ramsey in 1847, Queen Victoria was indisposed and had not landed. On a local level, the visit provided the reason for the naming of the coastal road as the King Edward Road. This had previously been known as the Onchan, or New Marine Drive.

On his accession to the throne the King had chosen to use his second Christian name, Edward, instead of Albert, which was his first name. Had he not done so, the coast road through Howstrake, would have been the King Albert Road!

By 1904 the Manx Electric Railway Co. was advertising the line as "Their Majesties' Route to Ramsey....A continuous panorama of mountain, glen, and marine scenery over the Royal Route".