taking our culture forward

Appeal for histories of Manx schools

Thu, 08 Dec 2022

Marown School in 1898 (photo copyright Manx National Heritage)
Marown School in 1898 (photo copyright Manx National Heritage)

We want to find out if there are histories of individual Manx schools that haven’t found their way to our friends at Manx National Heritage Library. This is as part of our work at Culture Vannin and DESC to celebrate 150 years of ‘education for all’ in the Isle of Man,

We know that there are some exceptional pieces of research into the history of Manx education by the likes of Dr Hinton Bird, Bob Forster, Ann Harrison, Dr Mike Hoy, and our own Board member, Professor Angela Little, but books and pamphlets on schools are written all the time, especially in celebration of important anniversaries.

Manx National Heritage Library holds histories of Ramsey Grammar, St Thomas’ and Arbory schools, and special books celebrating the centenaries of Michael, the Dhoon and St John’s schools, and of King William’s College. We also know that Arbory School has books relating to their 150th and 175th anniversaries – a remarkable achievement! More recently founded schools are also covered – Ballakermeen’s 50th anniversary was captured, as was the history of Castle Rushen High School. Are there other books out there? We recall being told about a history of the Buchan School, for instance, and there will be others.

If you think that you might have a spare copy of a book or pamphlet or other material (including photographs) about a Manx school, please consider offering it to Manx National Heritage Library in Douglas as a donation for their collections. Such material will help people know in coming years what life was like here, and it will help researchers build a comprehensive overview of Manx education. You could also email us so that we can help to build a bibliography of all the titles.

Librarian at Manx National Heritage, Suzi Heslan, says: “We have some excellent resources in Manx National Heritage Library and Archives which document the history of education on the island. With the help of the public, we can plug some of the gaps we might be missing. Any donations of school histories will be of immense benefit.”

2022 marks the 150th anniversary of the important 1872 Isle of Man Act for Public Elementary Education. The 1872 Act is a landmark in the history of education on the Island as it made education accessible to all by re-introducing compulsory education, transferring control from Church to State, mandating the raising of a local property tax to finance the scheme, and paving the way for the abolition of school fees.

Emerita Professor Angela W Little from UCL Institute of Education and Culture Vannin Board Member said: ‘School histories offer insights and images ‘from the inside’ and add greatly to the Island’s wealth of knowledge about education through times of change. Please share any documents, photos and films, tape recordings or other memorabilia with the MNH Library. This will greatly assist those who wish to understand the past, and draw lessons from it for the benefit of education on our Island in the future’.

More on the 150th anniversary here.