Isle of Man

Castletown


Once the capital of the island but now an attractive tourist centre wih its ruined castle and Nautical Museum


Castle Rushen was built by the Norse rulers of Mann in the C12th as their power base in the south of the island. A settlement quickly grew up round the walls of the castle, which became the capital of the Isle of Man until it transferred to Douglas in the mid C19th.

The town sits at the mouth of the Silverburn Burn.

Castletown, Isle of Man
 
Breakwaters were built to provide safe anchorage for fishing boats.

castletown, Isle of Man 

There is little fishing now, but small pleasure boats still moor in the inner harbour at the mouth of the Silverburn Burn, reached under a narrow swing bridge.
 
Castletown, Isle of Man

Queen Street with its brightly painted houses is the main road into the town from the south.

Castletown, Isle of Man

The old part of the town is around Castle Rushen and Market Square.

Castletown, Isle of Man
 
The tall monument in front of Castle Rushen is the Smelt Monument erected by public donation to the popular Lieutenant General Cornelius Smelt, who died in 1832. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough money for the statue.
 
Castletown, Isle of Man

Arbory Street is the main shopping area.

Castletown, Isle of Man

Narrow alleyways run down to the shore.
 
Castletown, Isle of Man

Tynwald met in the castle until the start of the C19th when it moved to what is now the Old House of Keys, just off Parliament Square. it later moved to Douglas when that became the capital.  The Old House of Keys is now in the care of the Manx National Trust and has been restored to what it would have looked like in 1866. It is open to the public and you can join in a daily debates here.

Castletown, Isle of Man

The Old Grammar School overlooks the breakwater and across to the Langness Peninsula. Built around 1200 as the Chapel of St Mary, this was the first church for the new settlement of Castletown and is the oldest roofed structure on the island. It became a grammar school in 1701 and a new extension was added. In 1931, the school was closed as numbers were falling and the building was in poor condition. Manx National Heritage acquired the building in 1950 to save it from demolition. It is now part of Manx National Trust and is preserved as a Victorian schoolroom. In August 2018, there was scaffolding around the building and it was only open for events or prebooked groups.

The Nautical Museum  on Bridge Street overlooks the Silverburn Burn. Captain George Quayle, a member of the powerful Quayle family, lived in the big house.
 
Castletown, Isle of Man

He was a politician, business man, founded the the first Isle of Man Bank and inventor. There were stories that he was a smuggler, although those are now disputed. The carriage shed next to the house was converted into a boathouse for Quayle’s yacht, the Peggy.

Castletown Railway Station is on the edge of the town. Built of the local limestone it is a splendid building dating from 1874. Trains regularly pass here.

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