taking our culture forward

A conversation with Yvonne Kneen, particularly focusing on her childhood, her memories of Rushen internment camp during WW2, and her time working in Port St Mary in the 1940s, briefly at the knitting factory and then as forewoman at the Bridson Kipper Factory at the quay.

Born Yvonne Leece on 15 January 1930, the family lived at one of the Kentraugh Cottages and her father was the chauffeur of Mr Gawne of Kentraugh. She describes a childhood where they would fetch water from the well, watch the mill running, eat raw turnips fresh from the field on the long walk home from school, and how her family could not afford the uniform or bus fare for her to go to high school.

The war years brought the internment of enemy aliens to Rushen, and Yvonne recalls clearly much of the camp through which she would pass daily on the way to school, as well as on her paper round. She also recalls the excitement of the military housed in various buildings around Port St Mary at the time, rounding off with the remarkable celebration of VE Day, when an old boat was set alight in the harbour!

After school, Yvonne worked first at the Huntersfold knitting factory on Port St Mary harbour. She describes her work at the machines and the building in some detail, but she soon moved on to better pay at a Kipper factory close by.

From 1946 until she married in 1949, Yvonne worked at Bridson’s Kipper House on Port St Mary harbour. She speaks in vivid detail about her tasks, her normal working day, the process of smoking herring, the sources of the fish and where they were sold, her colleagues and more. Her understanding of the factory is comprehensive through her rising to be forewoman, where she carried out the entire process on her own through the winter months.

Upon marrying Dave Hale, Yvonne moved to the Wirral in 1950, where she stayed until her husband’s death. After moving home to Port St Mary in 1992 she married childhood friend, John Kneen.

Yvonne describes a life well-lived and full of experiences now so rare to still be remembered in the Isle of Man, and all with obvious joy and happiness.


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.

  • Yvonne Kneen interviewed by James Franklin (26 June 2024)

More Photos

  • Yvonne as a child
  • Inside Huntersfold Knitting Factory
  • At work in Bridson's Kipper House, 1946