Isle of Man



The U3A Isle of Man meets on the third Thursday of every month at 2pm in St John's Mill. This is an opportunity to listen to a variety of speakers, meet fellow members, find out more about special interest groups, meet group co-ordinators and find out about new groups and events. You will find the dates and details of the speakers for 2021 in the list below. All the meetings are held at St John's Mill - just past the Tynwald Mills shops on the left. You can either park in the shops car park and walk or use the car park off the Poortown Road and walk from there. There is limited disabled car parking outside the Mill. There is a charge of £1 to attend.

If you are interested in the U3A but not yet a member, attending a Network Meeting is the ideal introduction. The Groups Co-ordinator will be able to explain what groups are running and how to join them. Membership for the year ending 31st March 2022 is just £15.

Meeting Speakers and events - 2021/22

16th September Too good to burn - Henry Teare
21st October Out of Africa - Graham Harvey
18th November A Manx child in the 18th century - Mike Hoy

Events/Visits 2020-22

This year, 2021, we plan to organise several events which we hope will be of interest to our members. We are planning visits to the Mallards Estate, Knockaloe Visitors' Centre and one of Sue's Hard Hat Tours. Also we hope that the Dance Therapy Workshop will finally happen, sooner rather than later, after having had to be postponed several times already!


On Friday 30th July a group of u3a members gathered at Douglas Corporation Recycling Centre to hear about what it does with the kerbside collections of paper, cardboard, tins, cans and plastic.

We found out that the only true recycling taking place in the Island is of glass, which is (re) processed by Corletts of St Johns who crush the glass into sand for use in drainage, road surfacing etc. Everything else is shipped to the UK for recycling.

Aluminium is separated from the steel, with most of it used to produce more aluminium cans. It is the most valuable commodity out of the 5 materials collected. Next valuable is steel, which is made into all sorts of products for the steel industry. Plastic is shredded and made into bottles again or drainage pipes etc. Paper is made into more paper, and cardboard into more brown cardboard, or ultimately into MDF.

Network meeting U3A on 15 July 2021

At Thursday’s network meeting we welcomed Maureen Cowbourne, Deputy Chief Executive of Age Concern Isle of Man, who gave us a most interesting, informative and humorous talk about the work of this very worthwhile charity. This is a completely separate charity from Age UK, and it benefits only Isle of Man residents. It has 2 shops – one in Port Erin which has been completely refurbished recently, and one in Ramsey. The aim of the charity is to improve the health and wellbeing of the elderly residents in the Isle of Man, and thus to improve the quality of life of older people living here.
Amongst the types of activities they perform, apart from manning the charity’s two shops which raise much needed funds to carry out these activities, are organising walks for those who need assistance or special care; putting on film nights in Castletown (which will be recommencing soon); arranging pilates classes; arranging craft activities and providing extremely helpful advice about IT gadgets or other matters affecting the elderly . They provide invaluable services which help prevent loneliness in the older population.
They have even thought “outside the box” and have bought 2 rickshaws to give older people trips either along the prom in Port Erin, or along North Quay in Douglas – who knew about that? They are however seeking secure and dry storage for the rickshaws – if anyone can help please contact them on 631740.
This charity is 25 years old. They are desperate for volunteers to help them carry out these many and varied services they perform. If anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Maureen on 631740. You never know when you yourself will need their help or advice.

AGM and Bob Harrison talk on 17.06.21

After the AGM on 17th June, we enjoyed a very entertaining talk by Bob Harrison. We heard about his early career as an apprentice civil engineer working on part of the M1 in Northamptonshire, and his progress to becoming Deputy Borough Surveyor in Devizes in Wiltshire in around 1980. However, during this time Bob, a lifelong jazz fan, also worked on local radio, first of all at a local hospital radio station, then with Wiltshire Radio, where he learned the skills of interviewing. In due course his hobby became his day job. In 1990 Bob made the move to the Isle of Man, since when he has been a regular presenter on Manx Radio.

Bob has interviewed many famous people over the years, including Donald Sinden, Bill Maynard, Judi Dench, Des O’Connor, to name only a few. He kept us amused the whole time with titillating titbits from some of these interviews, and left us looking forward to hearing more of his anecdotes of meeting celebrities at a future U3A network meeting.

Knockaloe Part 2 talk - Alison Jones

At Thursday 20th May’s network meeting, Alison Jones, the driving force behind setting up the Knockaloe Visitor Centre for WWI Internment, gave us a very interesting talk about the camp which housed over 23,000 enemy alien internees, mainly German, but also some Italian, Polish and Danish. It is 10 years since the project started, and this year will be the second season that the centre at Knockaloe will be open to the public during the summer months. Alison brought three of the internees to life for us, and gave us a taste of what life must have been like in the camp, with 1000 men in each of the 23 compounds, most of whom had to wait until the end of the war to be released.

Dr Mike Hoy
At our November 2020 meeting an excellent presentation was given by Dr Mike Hoy. It looked at the establishment of the franchise for women in the Isle of Man. To put it in context, Dr Hoy also showed the parallel processes in the Nordic countries - Iceland, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden. He also looked at New Zealand and Pitcairn Island (which was the actual first - including, no doubt, votes from the descendants of Fletcher Christian). The determination and courage of all the women involved was remarkable. This final Network Meeting for 2020 was very well attended, and Dr Hoy's talk was much appreciated.

Quiz Group Quiz Group The day after the Network Meeting saw us celebrating our first Quiz Group meeting at the Highwayman pub. Brenda Cubbon was our quizmaster and I have to confess being somewhat rusty. My Dad was with us, and very much enjoyed the event. At 95 he can rely on a long memory - one of the questions concerned the Hindenburg disaster which Dad remembers hearing about live on the "wireless"! A good event, enjoyed by everyone.

September saw our first Network Meeting since the lockdown, and it was very well attended. Pam Crowe's talk on the women and children interned in Port Erin during World War II. She concentrated on some of the leading personalities, both those involved in the management of the "camp" and some of those behind the wire. The organisational skills responsible for billeting over 4,000 women and children within one day was extraordinary. I doubt that such a feat could be accomplished as smoothly today. It was great to be back together at St Johns Mill, and the Refectory was buzzing after the meeting ended!

Belatedly I'm afraid, due to family illness, here is my update on our August trip to the Milntown Estate. Unfortunately, the gardens had to be closed because a storm had brought down as good deal of debris. However, we still enjoyed a split tour of the house and our cream tea. The house contained some wonderful furniture, and the volunteer guides were knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I was particularly taken with the fabulous ladies dresser, a gift from Sir Clive to his wife, and the wonderful feather fans mounted under glass on the wall. We then joined up and tucked in to scones and tea. This was our first outing since the easing of restrictions and everyone enjoyed getting together and catching up. Janeen at Milntown very kindly sent Garden Admission vouchers for those who had requested the garden tour. Most of these have now been distributed.

Volunteer Guide Bureau Ladies Dressing Table Original Chair Gentleman Members taking a break Feather Fans

Our February Meeting featured John Murray and the Role of Manxmen in the US Civil War. This was an interesting "tour" of the lead up to the start of the Civil War, culminating with the Battle of Gettysburg. We learned the names of some of the Manxmen involved, thanks to the details in archives, personal letters and journals. Most of the Manx solders fought for the North, because that was where most of them settled after emigration (Ohio is a typical example - hence the Guild's Cleveland Medal). It was fascinating to learn that a descendant of William Christian (Illiam Dhone) fought in the war, and sad to learn that two brothers who settled in different states, ended up on opposing sides of the conflict, as did many Americans. A very informative talk.

----- Our first Network Meeting of the new decade was a cracking presentation by Kirsty Pendlebury on The Weather. Kirsty is the first (and currently the only) female weather forecaster in the Manx Met Office. Her passion and enthusiasm were infectious, and there was plenty of humour mixed in with the technical bits. Today's tech is a far cry from the days when charts were drawn by hand and calculations done on a slide rule, but there is still uncertainty, especially when the different computer models disagree! Added to the equation is the small size of the Island, where a tiny variation in speed or direction can mean a weather system being early/late or missing us altogether. Watching the rain radar showing over time the small intense weather "cell" that caused such devastating flooding in Laxey recently was fascinating, it just hung around causing chaos - then disappeared! Kirsty gave us an excellent talk which was enjoyed and appreciated by the members.

Events/Visits 2019

Our final event of 2019 was the annual Christmas Lunch. Held again at the Palace Hotel, Douglas, close to 50 members enjoyed a three course meal and tea/coffee and mince pies (although not all of us could manage the mince pies!). As always, the food was good and the service quietly efficient. Thanks to Brenda for doing the quiz (again), which turned out to be more good-natured than competitive. We had a free raffle (with some last minute improvised tickets) with wine, biscuits and chocolates as prizes. The company was enjoyable and everyone agreed that it was a great way to finish 2019 for our U3A. Looking forward to the next decade!

November's meeting was the last to be held in 2019, and the attendees were entertained by a very enthusiastic presentation by Sylvia Jarritt on the Pierrots on the Isle of Man. Originating in Italy, the character was known there as Pedrolino. Along with Harlequin and Columbine, the 3 characters were important figures in live entertainment in Europe, the latter 2 characters becoming more associated with the circus. The traditional Pedrolino, with white suit (and black pompoms) black skull cap and white face was renamed Pierrot when the shows spread to France. Channel hopping to southern England, and especially associated with seaside holiday resort entertainment, the shows changed and adapted as they spread further north, eventually arriving in the Isle of Man. It was interesting to hear a number of members who either remembered the shows, or had heard their parents describing them. An unusual topic enjoyed by the audience.

Our October meeting speaker was Dr Joanna Kitto who coordinates the Brahma Kumaris Centre in the Isle of Man. Her theme was Wellbeing, and the tools for helping us to quiet the constant "busyness" of our minds and dwell more in the moment. It sounds simple but is a real skill, with yoga and meditation and identifying root causes of stress all helping to develop resilience. Joanna also has a very soothing voice, and more than one member looked zoned out by the end of her talk.
All the courses and classes at the Centre are free of charge, in the belief that opportunities for developing good health should be available to all.

----- Our September monthly meeting featured a well-known speaker - Charles Guard. He had previously given us a talk on the Milntown Estate, but this time his subject was his life in film. He showed clips going back to his earliest pieces, including the Falcon Cliff Hotel lift, which is now derelict. He spoke with wry humour about the trials and tribulations of filming documentary-style outdoors, especially in a city (cue a memorable encounter with a bolshie skateboarder!). It was also a revelation that as well as providing narration and commentary, he also composed the music for many of his pieces, especially his DVDs of the Island. Time was too short to explore all his film-related anecdotes, but he is such a skilled raconteur, the hope is that we can persuade him to pay us another visit. A really enjoyable meeting.

----- September 13th was our visit to the Energy from Waste Plant. It's a very futuristic-looking building which is even more impressive close up.----- Our guide was Jack Kaighen who told us that he started out as a baker and confectioner who made the change to engineering, working with ovens of one form or another throughout his working career.
Once we were all decked out in our safety gear, he gave us a brief introduction and then got us moving up the building. He showed us all aspects of the process, starting with the lorries arriving and offloading to the reception hall bunker and the huge grabber arm that loads the waste into the furnace hopper. Next we saw the turbines and generator (from behind glass, of course), and then on to the nerve centre of the whole operation, the Control Room. This is run by just 3 people at a time on 12 hour shifts. We then walked the gantries to see the primary furnace, where we were able to peek through a tiny window at the roaring flames inside. The normal running temperature of this furnace is 850+ C. There is also a secondary furnace used to burn clinical waste and certain waste oils at 1000C, but this only operates when sufficient waste is stockpiled. At full capacity around 1.5 megawatts of electricity is used to power the plant, leaving up to 5.5 megawatts to be exported to Manx Utilities.
As we worked our way down the building, we saw the grate for the bottom ash, and the areas used to cool, neutralise and filter the gases, before being vented up the stack. As expected the whole process runs under strict regulations, not only for the residue and emissions, but also for the water effluent.
All in all, a fascinating tour through a building that seemed much larger on the inside than out, and produced at least some useful energy from all our piles of waste.

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August 15th saw a split visit to the Manx Military & Aircraft Museum, with a guided tour by Ivor Ramsden MBE. The museum is a Tardis-like structure, which has an incredible number of exhibits packed into a seemingly small space. ----- Pride of place went to the Manx Regiment artefacts, which were donated when the Association was disbanded. AS complete World War I exhibition was completed last year in time for the anniversary of the Armistice. Ivor and his team take great care to research the items before they go on display. Personal items are not displayed and wherever possible, re-united with family. The dedication and care given to the objects was obvious, and many heart-rending stories uncovered. The beautiful garden set up in the grounds features a memorial to 28 Canadian Airforce personnel who died in flying accidents over the Island between 1941 and 1944. It was an excellent tour, and well worth a return visit (or two or three) to do justice to the huge variety of exhibits.

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We had a really excellent meeting on Thursday 20th June, with our speaker Chris Hobdell from the Archibald Knox Forum, showing us a film of a lecture on Archibald Knox and his gradual emergence from behind the Liberty brand to becoming a recognised artist in his own right. The comparison with similar objects by contemporary artists was particularly telling - the understated elegance and craftsmanship of Knox's pieces spoke for themselves. A wonderful addition to the talk was the collection of beautiful pieces brought along by Chris, which we could get close to and even handle. More than one person has suggested that the Island really should have a gallery devoted to the artist and his work, and on seeing this account it would be hard to disagree with this sentiment.

Click on a picture below to see it full-size with more details.