The Original Hotel of Port Erin

 

Port Erin originally had one hotel;  known as the White Lion in 1843, and the Queen’s Arms in 1846,  renamed the Falcon’s Nest around 1858, then added to further; a hotel built by William Milner around 1859/60, known as the Port Erin Castle Hotel.

Port Erin, 1860 (Ref: FNour01)

As other hotels began to be built, the savvy Landlord of the time began to promote Port Erin, and the hotel, to attract a certain kind of visitor.

The following story, actually a tourist guide, depicts the sleepy fishing village of port Erin, in the days before the railway came, before the promenade was built, before the time the local landmark Milner’s Tower was built.

Early Tourist Guide

“GUIDE TO CASTLETOWN, PORT ERIN, AND ADJACENT PARTS OF THE ISLE OF MAN”

c. 1869

Edwin Waugh (1817–1890)

Written by Edwin Waugh, a poet and household name in Lancashire at the time.

This guide is thought to have been commissioned by John Geary, the proprietor of the Falcon’s Nest, who  was aiming for the hotel to be more ‘up market’ than the hotels in Douglas, which largely attracted the working class.

 

Written to attract the middle class family holiday makers, particularly from Lancashire, this story is full of lengthy descriptions and flowery prose… it certainly promotes the hotel’s tap room throughout!

These are the kinds of things highlighted to attract the Victorian visitor;

 

  • Sea views from the terrace of the Falcon’s Nest Hotel
  • Views of the Mountains of Mourne, Ireland
  • Views of the fishing cottages on the beach
  • Picturesque village of Port Erin
  • Close to ‘remarkable’ coastal scenery
  • Manx tales and legends
  • Friendly locals
  • Manx ale

“The hotel, called ” The Falcon’s Nest,” looks right out to sea from the head of the bay… There is a green terrace in front of the hotel at the head of the slope, where I have many a time sat and looked about me with delight…

 

It is very pleasant to saunter about that green terrace on a fine summer’s day – or on any other day, to one who loves nature in all her moods.”

 

READ FULL TEXT

 

The beginning of a new era

In 1871 Milner’s Tower was built on Bradda Head by local villagers as a memorial “to his many charities”.

Three years later, a Tourist Guide of 1874 describes another hotel; the Villa Marina Hotel (later The Eagle), and a refreshment house, called Bay View House.

This year also saw the opening of the railway, which opened up the village for new opportunities for development as a place for genteel family holidays, away from the noise and bustle of Douglas.

Port Erin Bay, pre1880 (Ref: FNour02)

The 1880s saw the growth of the promenade. Many of the guest houses and boarding houses expanded into hotels.

 

Other facilities and entertainments grew to cater for the increasing numbers. There was music and dancing, rowing boats to hire, and plenty of cafés and places offering refreshments. Visitors went for bracing walks in the fresh air and explored the beautiful surrounding countryside. The following attractions opened:

  • Traie Meanagh open air swimming pool in the 1899 offering mixed bathing which was unusual at the time
  • The new railway station building in 1903
Port Erin Promenade, 1908 (Ref: FNour03)

The last of the big hotels – the Imperial – was built in 1938 and completed the line of four large hotels which stood next to each other at the end of the prom.

 

 

  • The Golf Links Hotel at it’s height it had 65 bedrooms, a ballroom and could cater for 100 guests.
  • The Port Erin Royal Hotel was once an entertainment hub in the south. In 1932 it had 85 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms.
  • The Ocean Castle in it’s 1961 brochure could cater for 200 guests and had a TV lounge and automatic lifts.
  • The Imperial Hotel had accommodation of over fifty bedrooms and advertised ‘all modern conveniences’ including ‘Vita glass in the Sun lounge’.
Port Erin Promenade, post 1938 (Ref: FNour04)

By the 1940’s the tourism trade was still strong. This is how the promenade was described:

“Informal dances, varied by occasional balls, are given in the ballrooms of Port Erin’s luxurious hotels and boarding houses, which are amongst the finest in the Island. There is a cinema and a variety show, but the town is essentially a quiet family resort devoted to healthful open-air sports, and seemingly far removed from the gaieties of Douglas, although the capital is less than an hour away by road or rail.”

Official Handbook of The Official Board of Advertising for The Isle of Man, 1940

 

During World War 2, Falcon’s Nest Hotel, and the other hotels and other guest houses formed the core of an internment camp for ‘enemy aliens’. Rushen Camp W, located mainly in Port Erin, was unique – the only WW2 Women’s Internment camp in Europe.

The Promenade at Port Erin used to consist almost exclusively of hotels. With the decline and changing patterns of tourism, most of them have been demolished or converted into apartments.

 

The promenade still exists, as these new buildings have been designed in such a manner that they largely follow the line, height and form of the original buildings.

Here follows a gallery of past hotels of Port Erin promenade. Please note: Balmoral Hotel is now a Bed & Breakfast and is still in operation.

Balmoral Hotel
Villa Marina Hotel
Eagle Hotel
Windsor House Hotel
Grosvenor Hotel
Snaefell Hydro Hotel
Countess Hotel
Tynwald Hotel
Golf Links Hotel
Princess Hotel
Belle Vue Hotel
Port Erin Royal Hotel
Hydro Hotel
Ocean Castle Hotel
Imperial Hotel

So, although a lot has changed in Port Erin promenade, don’t worry. The exact same things that originally attracted the very first tourists and visitors are still here!

 

  • Sea views from the terrace of the Falcon’s Nest Hotel
  • Views of the Mountains of Mourne, Ireland
  • Views of the fishing cottages on the beach
  • Picturesque village of Port Erin
  • Close to ‘remarkable’ coastal scenery
  • Manx tales and legends
  • Friendly locals
  • Manx ale

We look forward to your visit to The Falcon’s Nest Hotel.

Port Erin Bay, 2018 (Ref: FNour05)