taking our culture forward

Mr Willie Kneale was born in 1932 in Pulrose and has lived in Douglas all his life with the exception of National Service.

The Douglas we hear described in this interview is miles away from the Douglas we are familiar with nowadays, Mr Kneale takes us back to Port Skillian Beach where putting a suicidal porpoise back in the water repeatedly is one of his earliest memories, to the minstrel shows on Douglas Head (where his dad had a summer job of sitting on a stand dressed as a diver), of his time at the White Hoe isolation hospital with diphtheria, of sneaking in to The Palace to learn to dance with the Lancashire mill girls, of a lady from the south who could speak no English, only Manx, coming to Douglas to live with her daughter, of his time working for a removal firm for ex-servicemen and having to pretend he was the recipient of the Indian Mutiny medal although born over seventy years too late, a wonderful description of his weekly trip around the Douglas shops carrying shopping for his grandmother and his job of helping a gentleman in his nineties get to work at Gellings Foundry each day - he recalls how when he was given the opportunity to retire at 60, he remembered this man saying ‘wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing not to have to work’ - life in Douglas at this time was a tough life indeed.
However, alongside stories of hardship, we have stories of community, of characters, of fun, of the ‘Manx sense of humour’ that Mr Kneale laments as being lost - anyone who has spent half an hour in his company will confirm that this is not the case!


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  • Willie Kneale