taking our culture forward

John Quilliam will be known to many people as a great shot who not only represented the Island in the Commonwealth Games of 1984 but who has also taught generations how to shoot at his range, Quilliam’s Country Gun Club, at Broogh Fort in Santon.

John was born in Peel in 1935 but moved to Douglas at a young age where his father had taken over the running of a coal merchants. John talks of an incredible childhood on the rough and ready streets of Douglas where gangs controlled areas of the town and fights were frequent, his description of the culture of bullying in schools at the time paints a very different view of childhood to the pre war period we often picture nostalgically.  He describes escapades with his friend, an evacuee who lived in the house opposite, including drinking a bottle of beer on the way to sing in the church choir aged ten, also of making his own bomb inside the casing of a WW1 hand grenade and it blowing up and injuring him, making him one of the first, if not the first, to receive a blood transfusion on the Island with his mother supplying the blood.

In his mid teens, John’s mother, who was a strong independent woman, bought a farm in Santon and together they took on the farm work which John talks about including descriptions of local characters and life in Santon.

From tales of nights at the Alec Inn and watching the local farmers on the rides at the White City on the Sunday School outing to an old lady breaking up a fight with her handbag, the complications of sending a rare breed heifer on the boat to New Zealand and the mathematics of farming, John Quilliam is a natural storyteller with a lifetime of stories to share.

This interview was conducted by Katie Newton on 15 October 2018.


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  • Interview with John Quilliam

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