Details of each website feature (for newcomers) Direct links to each website feature (for regulars) Advance news of new developments on my website Summary of all the latest updates Gateway to Welsh Family History Archive Help for those having problems accessing my website A link to the main 'gateway' page to my entire website
To Isle of Man menu page
Tribute to the Isle of Man

Note: If you haven't already done so, click here to open a scrollable map of the Isle of Man in a separate window for handy reference.

Peel (page 2) Peel (page 3)

Peel (page 1)

Peel (in Manx Purt-ny-h'inshey or "port of the island") is a picturesque small town on the west coast of the Isle of Man whose traditional industries were fishing, boat building, and the production of kippers. Peel is the most Manx of all the towns on the Island and its residents are fiercely proud of the town's heritage which goes back to the beginnings of history.
The town is situated at the mouth of the river Neb around which Peel harbour is situated. At the western end of the north-facing Peel Bay is St Patrick's Isle, now permanantly linked to the mainland by a causeway. On St Patrick's Isle are the ruins of Peel Castle and St German's Cathedral, whose presence bestows city status on the town of Peel. In 1726 the population of Peel was 475; it is now about 3,300.

St Patrick's Isle, Peel (circa 1800)
19th century engraving
Above: Peel Castle on St Patrick's Isle.

The 19th century engraving (above) is dated 1833, but the scene it portrays is probably much earlier. The engraving shows the original harbour entrance. In those days, before the construction of Peel jetty and breakwater, the causeway was vulnerable in rough seas.

St Patrick's Isle
Photography by Leonard Ball, 1954
Above: St Patrick's Isle, viewed from near the summit of Peel Hill.

The photograph above shows the breakwater extending from the right hand side of the island, which provides added protection for the harbour as well as moorings for fishing vessels (see picture below). The breakwater was completed in 1897.

Fishing fleet at Peel breakwater
Photography by Leonard Ball, 1954
Above: The fishing fleet moored at Peel breakwater in 1950s.

During the 19th century, mackerel and herring fishing became a major industry for the Isle of Man, and many of the fishing boats were based at Peel. At one time it was said that you could cross Peel Harbour on the decks of the fishing boats waiting to set out for the fishing grounds at sunset. In 1880, 200 fishing boats were registered at Peel, but by the turn of the century the fishing industry was in decline. One hundred years later, Peel is still the centre of the what remains of the Manx fishing industry.

Peel quayside 1954
Photography by Leonard Ball, 1954
The activity on Peel breakwater in the 1950s (above) and the 1980s (below).
Peel quayside 1985
Photography by John Ball, 1985
Douglas sands
Photography by Mona Ball, 1986
  Douglas sands
Photography by Mona Ball, 1986

The "low season" starts during May, when the first herring shoals appear off the west coast. From May until August, 40 or 50 boats fish these waters. Then the high season arrives and the herring become more abundant through into September. The few Manx vessels are joined by fishermen from ports in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Below: Outside the herring season, a lone fishing boat returns to Peel Harbour on a cold gloomy night in March 2001. The vessel later unloaded its catch of scallops destined for the tables of restaurants in France.
Return of the fishing boat, 2001
Photography by John Ball, March 2001

As the Manx fishing industry declined in the late 19th century, tourism began to replace it as a source of income for the residents of the Isle of Man. Hotels and guest-houses were opened in Peel and the town shared in the popularity of the Island as a holiday destination for workers from the north-west and midlands of England.

Harbour ferry 1953
Photography by Leonard Ball, 1953
The ferryboat which conveys tourists across Peel harbour.
Little had changed between 1953 (above) and 1985 (below).
Harbour ferry 1985
Photography by John Ball, 1985
Manx kippers
  Photography by John Ball, 2001

Above: Notice the smoke issuing from the kipper curing houses at the far end of the harbour. Kippers are smoked herrings, and the process of curing herrings with smoke originated as a way of preserving this highly nutritious fish so it could be consumed out of season.

Left: Manx kippers.

Go to page 2