Civic visit to Onchan, August 2022

On Thursday 11th August 2022, His Excellency The Lieutenant Governor, Lieutenant General Sir John Lorimer KCB DSO MBE, accompanied by Lady Lorimer MBE, paid their official visit to Onchan at the invitation of Onchan District Commissioners. They were collected from Government House at 9am in a Bus Vannin vehicle. On board were Peter Kelly the Captain of the Parish, Kathryn Williams the Lady Chairman of the Commissioners, Ross Philips the Acting Clerk/Chief Executive, Commissioners David Quirk and Robin Turton together with David Bell from DK Photography who recorded the four hour visit. All four photographs in this entry come from his collection.

The party made a total of twelve stops where His Excellency and Lady Lorimer were introduced to members of the public connected with those venues.

The tour ended at the Jubilee Garden in Onchan Park which was originally opened as a sensory garden and was opened by H.E. Adam Wood during his tenure of office. The garden had recently undergone a complete makeover thanks to volunteers from Barclays Bank as a community project. Two representatives of the work team, Sue Bishop and Caroline Dawdry were presented to His Excellency and Lady Lorimer. Two further commissioners, Derek Crellin and Fenella Logan who were unable to take part on the tour were introduced to His Excellency and Lady Lorimer. Following the unveiling of a plaque to commemorate the garden being re-opened. His Excellency and Lady Lorimer left to attend the funeral of former Speaker of the House of Keys in Kirk Michael an hour later.

The first stop on the tour was at the Clucas’ Industrial Estate at Tromode which most people don’t realise is in Onchan having been part of the former Rural Ward. The party were given a guided tour of the estate by Alex Thomson , Director and Company Secretary of Clucas PLC , as the minibus travelled to the end of the estate and back . The party alighted at the double premises of SLS Optics , a firm that was set up in 1996 and commenced in Tromode in 1997. The company manufactures specialist lenses and mirrors. The party were introduced to the four directors and then the process and purpose of the products was described. The photograph shows (L to R) The Captain of the Parish (sideways on to the camera), Lady Lorimer, His Excellency, Lionel Skillicorn a founding director, with his back to the camera but discussing one of the processes of manufacture is fellow director Simon Skillicorn. Not in this photograph are Ron Cowell and Russell Cowell the other two directors of the firm who were also involved in demonstrating the process.


Leaving SLS the party visited Abbeylands Methodist Chapel , Onchan AFC at Blackberry Lane , The Hub in School Road and Kenyon’s Café alongside. Next it was into 2nd Onchan Scout Headquarters where they were introduced to Alex Armstrong the Group Scout Leader of the scout group which is currently celebrating its Diamond Jubilee since it was reformed in 1962. Originally the group was formed in 1910 but during the Great War the leaders were called up and groups were not permitted to function without adult leaders.

Some members of the committee were also introduced as well as a groups of cubs, scouts and explorer scouts. Two of those present have been selected to be in the contingent from the Isle of Man attending the 2023 World Jamboree in South Korea. They each have £4,000 to raise which not only covers their costs but also contributes to the cost of bringing scouts from poorer countries. A total of 40,000 will be attending from all across the world. His Excellency and Lady Lorimer had a very interesting chat with them all. Here they enjoy a joke with the Captain of the Parish and the young members.

From the Scout Headquarters the party walked across the School Road Recreation Ground to the Storytime Nursery alongside the Commissioners’ Car Park. Here they met a group of very young people who demonstrated how they enjoyed playing and presented His Excellency and Lady Lorimer with a card each to which was attached a cut out of each child’s handprint on which was written their names.

From the nursery they crossed the road and entered the Onchan Methodist Hall which was the meeting place of Onchan Jubilee WI. The group were formed in 1965 , the Jubilee Year of the WI. They became the second WI group in Onchan, the original being Onchan and District WI. Later two other groups were formed, Avondale WI and Howstrake WI. Here the Captain of the Parish explains now Jubilee were the only group left in Onchan. He also explained how the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was across the road (now an office) and the Primitive Methodist Chapel was near the top of Summer Hill Road (also an office now). When the two merged the Summerhill Road Chapel lay empty until eventually purchased by Corkill’s Garage who used it as a Chapel of Ease and a garage for their hearse and mourning cars. In 1959 a new Methodist Hall was built opposite the Commissioners’ Office. Then in 1987 a new chapel was built alongside and finally a lounge in which the WI and other groups meet was built across the front to link the two buildings.

From the Methodist Hall the group walked to the Harvey Briggs Library then to the Onchan Pensioners’ Club where several of the members had been having their usual Thursday Coffee Morning. Some time was spent talking to a number of the members. Next it was crossing the road to the Village Hall at the top of Royal Avenue. The hall was built to the designs of the famous Arts and Crafts architect Baillie Scott in 1898. It was erected by public subscription as a public hall and a Sunday School for St Peter’s Church. The Trustees of the hall are The Captain of the Parish, The Vicar and the Church Wardens. The Trustees and the Management Committee were introduced before the party were taken on a conducted tour of the building. At the library the Librarian and her two assistants were introduced to His Excellency and Lady Lorimer. In the photograph Melanie Jones the Librarian listens as the Captain of the Parish explains that oak bookcases were made by Phil Mason of Maughold to house the ever increasing ‘Manx’ section of books. When complete the Manx Section was dedicated to Harvey Briggs the Captain of the Parish at that time. Harvey had been a member of the library since it opened and was a regular user. After he died the Commissioners renamed the library after him.