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Review: Laxey

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Laxey, Isle of Man, United Kingdom

Once the lead mining capital of the Isle of Man and the start of the railway up Snaefell

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2257 reviews

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  • August 2018
  • Solo

34 people found this review helpful

Laxey began as a small close knit fishing community around the mouth of the Laxey River. There was a herring smoke house and it was also important for washing and bleaching linen cloth used in the manufacture of sails.

Small scale mining began in the valley above the village. By the C19th, when the Great Laxey Mine was at its peak, most of the male population worked in the mines.  As the settlement grew, miners houses were built along Miners Road which led from above the washing floors to the mines.

Women and young boys worked on the washing floors. Men worked in the mines. Life was hard and wages were low. Miners had to pay for explosives and other supplies. There was no welfare state and if miners were badly hurt and unable to work or too old to work, they were reliant on Friendly Societies to support them.

As the mines grew, the harbour at the mouth of the river was improved by two breakwaters and a warehouse was built on the quayside. Washing floors were extended down the valley with a tramway carrying the lead ore to the harbour. A new road was built with a bridge was built across the river.

Land and money was given to build a new church, as the parish church was three miles away. Christ Church is a simple stone church with a bell cote near the railway interchange. It was consecrated in 1856 and work in the mines stopped for the day so the miners could attend the service.

Laxey Flour Mills opened in 1860 followed by a Woollen Mill in 1881 bringing alternative employment to the area.

Victorian visitors began to arrive at the Isle of Man and with the opening of the Manx Electric Railway in 1894 and the Snaefell Moutain Railway the following year. Numbers visiting Laxey grew rapidly. Visitors paid to climb the wheel. Enterprising families in Dumbell’s Terrace along Miners Road soon opened their homes to sell refreshments and the row of houses soon became named ‘Ham and Eggs Terrace’.

Laxey Gardens was opened by an enterprising business man with an outdoor ballroom, bandstand, croquet, tennis, boating lake and exotic trees and shrubs.

The beach is pebble and Laxey never became a place to stay and most were day visitors. It was also quite a long walk from the Manx Electric Railway Station. A Promenade was built in 1929 as part of a winter work scheme for former miners. It lacks the grand hotels of Douglas and Port Erin. Later development was up the hillside.

Laxey is still popular with day visitors coming to see the Lady Isabella Wheel and to take the Snaefell Mountain railway. For those liking real ale, it is worth seeking out the Shore Hotel which is the islands only brew pub and outlet for the Old Laxey Brewing Company.

There is more information and pictures about Laxey here.

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