Context 153 - March 2018

24 C O N T E X T 1 5 3 : M A R C H 2 0 1 8 of Bath, dating from 1832, is the largest Manx house, also crenellated, representing a fashionable interpretation of faux castle that can be found throughout the British Isles, and much farther afield in Europe. Other names to be aware of are John Robinson, Ewan Christian, Joseph Henry Christian, John Loughborough Pearson, William John Rennison and Frank Matcham (architect of the GaietyTheatre, a fine recent restoration) and, as mentioned, Armitage Rigby and Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott (1865–1945), who spent part of his early career in Douglas. Baillie Scott’s Falcon Cliff Terrace marks his transition from whimsy to modernism in elevational treatment while retaining his innovative space planning. The Edwardian era competition wins include the baroque revival Municipal Buildings in Douglas by Ardron and Dawson of Leeds (1889) and the Isle of Man Bank headquarters (1902) by Alexander Marshall Mackenzie (fromAberdeen), arguably the Isle of Man’s finest building.Together with his son,Alexander George Robertson Mackenzie, he designed Australia House and the Waldorf Hotel in London. Giles Gilbert Scott designed the Roman Catholic church of Our Lady Star of the Sea and St Maughold, Ramsey (1910), a significant early work. John Robinson, in buildings from 1837 to 1869, favoured two styles, using castellated forms for Greeba Castle and GreebaTowers (1849) and the neo-classical for Oddfellows’ Hall (1841) and the Esplanade (1846). When designing terraces, he often formed a palace front. All these buildings are at risk, or have been subjected to inappropriate change. Manx architecture has always been poorly served by the insular administration.There is no longer a conservation officer, and the planning system is geared to facilitate the arrival of new residents of high net worth, however they may wish to change any building they may acquire. Further reading Roeder, C (1901) Contributions to the Folk Lore of the Isle of Man in YnLioarManninach,Vol 3 (1895–1901) Tutt, Patricia (2010) Lorne House:A Manx survivor , Ramsey, Lily Publications Tutt, Patricia (2012) An Insular Architecture: rural vernacular architecture of the Isle of Man and the unique influencing factors that have shaped its form, PhD, University of Liverpool Tutt, Patricia (2013) An Introduction to the Architecture of the Isle of Man , Ramsey, Lily Publications The Summerland disaster Summerland, built in 1970, was to have been the saviour of the Manx holiday industry, providing Douglas with an imaginative, multi-purpose, climate-controlled indoor leisure centre – the first of its kind in Britain. On 2 August 1973 it burnt down. Fifty people died and 80 were seriously injured. Many more were traumatised, whether in the building, or in dealing with the fire and its aftermath. Many in the Isle of Man remain unwilling to discuss the Summerland fire, in case they might upset those associated with it. Summerland was hideously destroyed by a compounding of design and management errors that allowed a fire to race unseen and uncontrolled through wall cavities before surging into view. It then raced through flammable furnishings and fittings before rapidly consuming the vast extent of plastics-based, pseudo-glass roofing and external wall, causing huge volumes of smoke. Confused members of the public, unfamiliar with the inadequate escape routes, were trapped inside, waiting to be rescued by an inadequately resourced fire service that, it seems, were the last to learn of the fire, as no alarm had been raised from the building. It was a taxi-driver who called the fire brigade, over 20 minutes after the fire had started, followed by the captain of a ship two miles off-shore. He called HM Coastguard, saying ‘It looks as if the whole of the Isle of Man is on fire.’ The disaster was the impetus for major changes in the building regulations codes in Britain, dealing with fire, means of escape and the specification of large-volume and tall buildings (although regret- tably, in view of the Grenfell fire, not flats). Falcon Cliff Terrace (four houses) by Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott.The end house, owned by Manx National Heritage, is being carefully restored. All photos by the author, whose biography appears on page 27.

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