taking our culture forward

Chris Mannion was the organist performing on the main stage of Summerland on the night of the fire in 1973.

Chris is a lifelong performer who has a long and glittering career as a musician, musical host, musical entertainer and lounge pianist at a number of venues across the British Isles and beyond. He is perhaps best known for his work as an entertainer at Eastbourne Pier. However, he cut his teeth in the world of music as an organist at Summerland.

Chris was performing in pubs and clubs near to his home in Cheshire as a young man, before a phone call changed the course of his life. An audition, of sorts, with the then Chief Executive of hospitality company, Trust House Forte, led to Chris’ appointment as a performer at Summerland from its inception. He hand-picked the organ he went on to use at Summerland himself, before he moved to the Isle of Man for the first time in 1971.

In this conversation, Chris talks about his experiences at Summerland and of the Island more broadly in 1971, 72 and 73, up to and including the fire on 2 August 1973. He shares his memories of the night itself, and also of the aftermath on the Island in the days and weeks following the fire. Although he remained on the Island for a while afterwards, and was a well-known figure in the community at the time, Chris had to move away to pursue the next stages of his career. He remains deeply fond of the Island, though, and is an occasional visitor.

This interview was conducted as a part of the Summerland Remembered project commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Summerland Fire on 2nd August 1973.


When you click play on one of the interviews below there will be a slight delay as the audio file is downloaded. Large files or slow internet connections will increase the length of this delay.

  • Chris Mannion interviewed by Dollin Mercer (6 July 2022)