|Our heritage trail starts at the world famous
Laxey Wheel. Known as “Lady Isabella”, the
world’s biggest water wheel was christened on
27th September 1854.
Designed by Manx
engineer Robert Casement (see also and )
and used for driving the pump rods to force
water out of the mine, the wheel became a
tourist attraction in itself.
Tramway, (which utilised a water-based counterbalancing
system), carried visitors up the slope
for 1d, and downslope men were charged 1/2d,
while ladies went free to the pleasure grounds in
the current car park area.
|The footpath down to the left below
Cronk y Chule, leads above the former
changing rooms of the mine (see ) to the
recently reinstated Great Laxey Mine Railway which boasts the longest tunnel in the Island!
The railway, with two engines the "Ant" and the
"Bee", superseded ponies in the 1870s to bring
ore out of the mine via the main adit, passed the
"Deads", to the washing floors (see ) for sorting.
Nearby the Copper Adit was the first mining
Laxey Mines Train
|Across the main road “Blacks” was formerly
Parr’s Bank and subsequently became
Dumbell’s Bank. The Bank collapsed in 1900
with the loss of many people’s savings including
those of the tramway company and Robert
Williamson, owner and operator of the Laxey
The nearby entrance leads to the
washing floors which Robert Casement designed
in 1848 (see also and ).
Metalwork in the Washing Floors
|Exit the bottom of the washing floors and
follow the river onto Glen Road where it
meets the Glen Roy tributary. On the opposite
side is a church hall, formerly the village infant
school. This operated in conjunction with the National School which was on the hillside above
the Woollen Mills.
The mills started life as water
powered corn mills but were acquired by Egbert
Rydings a silk weaver from Clitheroe in
Lancashire and the St. George’s Guild founded
by John Ruskin, and reopened as such in 1881.
The mills operated on the principle "from the
mountain track to the wearer’s back" – i.e. you
should be able to have a suit made out of the
wool you supplied to the mill. Use of steam
powered machinery was not allowed but was
briefly introduced in the 1940s and 1950s, until
the mills returned to hand production as today.
The Laxey tartan is one of its most popular
Photo: Laxey Woollen Mills
|The broken weir serves as a reminder of the disastrous effects of a rain storm in
September 1930 which resulted in the weir being
blocked by a tree trunk swept down the swollen
river. The resulting flood affected all but one
property in Glen Road and knocked out the
power station, on the far bank of the river, which
supplied the Manx Electric Tramway.
On the left
hand side many of the original cottages were
improved by the addition of new frontages -
courtesy of the endeavours of Laxey miners who
had emigrated to South Africa and other mining
countries for work and subsequently returned
wealthier or sent money home. Opposite
Verndale, the home of local builder John Mylroie,
the Victoria Terrace workshop has the masque of
his son who died as a student from influenza.
Mylroie’s were responsible for many buildings in
the village including Chapel Terrace and former
boarding houses Seafield and Ravenscliffe.
Photo: Mylroie mask
|The public footpath on the left leads to the
Quarry Falls, a hidden waterfall in the
surroundings of the former Hogg's quarries,
supplier of local building stone. At its base a former water wheel case was used for a joiner’s
The neighbouring Department of
Transport’s depot started life as the slaughter
house for the "Upper Co" (Cooperative Society).
The public recreation ground on both sides of
Glen Road is the generous legacy of the Henry
Bloom Noble Trust.
Henry Bloom Noble was an
entrepreneur who had extensive property
interests in Laxey and Lonan.
The Quarry Falls
|Palladian House was the Wesleyan Methodist
Chapel dating from 1843 but enlarged to its
present form in 1850. When Primitive and
Wesleyan sects of Methodism united, the "Prim"
Sunday school on Minorca Hill became the seat
of worship and the Wesleyan Sunday school, on
the opposite side of Glen Road, became the hall.
Seaward of Palladian House, houses are built on
the site of a former builder’s yard and early
chemical factory. Behind Chapel Terrace are the
remains of one of Laxey's two Breweries.
|The Mona Lisa restaurant and the adjacent buildings are located in the former Laxey
Equitable Co-operative (Lower Co.) premises.
The co-operative supplied everything - "from the
cradle to the grave", and had its own
slaughterhouse at the rear.
Old Laxey Bridge or
"Monks Bridge" is medieval in origin and has 5
arches, although one is now wholly under the
road. It led to the "Puncheon" road a packhorse
route to Ramsey - a local is said to have carried a
puncheon of ale up the hill for a mile and a
quarter! The bridge was only widened in the
1820s the route having been replaced by Minorca
Hill, the first coach route 20 years earlier! A final
widening took place in the 1870s to enable the
wagonway from the mine which came along
Glen Road to swing around the corner on to the
bridge and thence down to the harbourside.
Overlooking all is the hilltop "keeill" site of St.
Niglus. This early Christian chapel had a well at
its foot reputedly running red with blood after a
battle. The nearby chalet site was briefly the
home of the first Cunningham's holiday camp
for young men on the Island.
Photo: Old Laxey Bridge, or Monks Bridge
|Tent Road was named after the tents erected
here for Laxey Fair. Here the sailing club
now uses the Old Laxey Working Men's Institute
and Reading Room, built in 1871 by the miners.
Next door the Warehouse was opened in 1866
by Captain Richard Rowe of the Laxey mine
(see ) as a coal store cum grain store cum
meeting place (on the top floor).
it contained an early electricity generating plant
before becoming the Erskine Clothing Factory
in the 1930s. Captain Rowe was also responsible
for having the dock opposite dug out to serve
Photo: The Warehouse
Laxey Promenade was built in 1929 as part of
a winter work scheme for former miners.
Originally the beach extended back to Back
Shore Road or Pig Street. The car parking area
was the "jack store" (black jack is another name
for zinc ore) and the current cafe was a lead
store. In the summer months boats were
available for hire. The area was to have been the
site of Rowe's "Brighton of the North" scheme
for tourism development.
Until recent years the
TT's popular Honda gathering event still
attracted huge crowds and was one of the last
events visited by the charismatic Joey Dunlop.
On Shore Road is the Salvation Army Hall, built
in 1825 as the first Primitive Methodist Church. Prior to the opening of the mine, Old Laxey
was the original village based around fishing
and industry, with mills, warehouses and a red
herring house. Its former post office was the
birthplace of the later styled "King of Laxey"
Robert Williamson who founded the Glen
Gardens (see & ) and a family grocer shop
which was later run by his brother James.
on the right attached to Cronk-na-Quill is
reputedly the smallest house on the Island
formerly occupied by a shoemaker.
Hotel built in 1837 was the site of the second
Laxey Brewery and is still used as such today.
Following the river upstream alongside the Shore
Hotel, the footpath leads to two industrial
buildings variously used as flax mills, paper
mills, dye works, power station and turbine
house for the Manx Electric Railway, a carpet
factory and a film studio. The larger of the
buildings as a power station had a flue 60ft high
reaching the height of New Road above. Coal
was brought across a bridge on a branch of the
wagonway from Glen Road.
Photo: Laxey Harbour
|The path carries on uphill to the rear of 'the Dips' - the BMX track, and following the
right hand branch leads to the "Car Sheds" where
the first tramway station was built when the
track initially reached Laxey in 1894. The station
was moved along the line to its present location
(see ) as bridges were built.
Ahead, a stile to
Lower Rencell Hill and steps lead to New Road
(completed a few months before "Lady Isabella"
in 1854) and to the offices of Laxey Village
Commissioners. This building was purchased
from Robert Williamson in 1938 and was part of
the premises used in the production of "pop"
Photo: Laxey Village Commissioners' Offices
|To the left, the Queens Hotel, which like other pubs in the vicinity evolved with the
stage coach route, was scene of a major fire in
1905. Towards the village centre another former
"rest and be thankful" - "The Commercial" or
"The Coach and Horses" is now the Laxey Health
In contrast, the former Temperance
Hotel (opposite the Old Police Station) is now a
private house. "Moore's Bridge" is one of the
highest viaducts in the Island built by John
James Moore of Baljean. Running proudly
adjacent to it is a fine Railway Bridge built in
only 3 months in 1898 by Mark Carine.
Laxey Glen Flour Mills, designed by Robert
Casement (see and ) is the only surviving
operational flour mill on the Island. Captain
Richard Rowe, a Cornishman (see ), opened
the mill in 1861 and his family crest adorns the
front of the building; the same symbol is used
to indicate the purity of tin exported
from Cornwall. Photo: Laxey Glen Flour Mills
|The Glen Gardens, originally opened as "Victoria Park" in the 1860s by Robert
Williamson (see and ), accommodated a
host of attractions and a pavilion. The glen, now
owned by the Department of Agriculture,
Fisheries and Forestry, is made freely available
for public use.
The nearby Glen House was
Williamson's own home and a hotel designed by
one of the Island's finest architects W. J.
Rennison. On the right hand side of New Road,
is "The Working Men's Institute", erected in 1876
by the miners for their educational benefit. It
has seen many notable village events such as the
first Commissioners elections in 1895, the first
film show and the inquest into the tragic Snaefell
Mine disaster - the Island’s worst mining disaster
when 20 men lost their lives.
Next door Montague House, with a mason's
symbol above, was built for William Stevenson in 1868. This was the first building occupied by the
Laxey Industrial Co-operative Society (the Upper
Co.) who later built the nearby White House
buildings. In the 1960s Montague House was
refronted and now houses the village chemist.
Photo: Laxey Glen
|Turn right into the station area. In the former gardens of the Mine Captain's
house (now the Mines Tavern), is Christ Church
Laxey. Built as a chapel of ease in 1853/4, the
church was consecrated in 1856.
from Douglas to Ramsey was completed in 1899
and combined in one station area with the
extended Snaefell Mountain Railway.
Completion necessitated demolition of a third of
the Mine Captain's house which became licensed
premises after the large station dining rooms
burnt down in 1918.
Opposite its rear entrance
onto Captain's Hill is a closed footpath called
"the Captain's path" which was used as the
personal route of the Mine Captain to the
Beyond the tram sheds is the Laxey and Lonan
Heritage Trust's display of vintage agricultural
machinery within the blacksmith's yard.
The building is still used by a blacksmith,
albeit not a farrier.
Photo: Christ Church Laxey
|Above the former site of the Miner's Statue
in the entrance to Mines Road, alongside
Brown's Café, is the Snaefell Mountain Railway
to the "Seven Kingdoms", which was opened in
Dumbells Row, the longest line of purpose built
(1860) industrial housing under a continuous
roof line on the Island, was nicknamed "Ham
and Egg Terrace" after most houses started
selling teas and meals to visitors in their front
Only Brown's established about 1902 in
No 2 remains in catering use. Other former tourist attractions in Mines Road included
photographic booths and working models of the
Laxey Wheel. Laxey Tourist Information Centre
and Gift shop operated by Laxey and Lonan
Heritage Trust was previously used as the village
fire station and the outline of the original
opening may be seen on the front gable.
Photo: Dumbells Row
|Mines House was used as the mine's office and in the early 20th century as the Mine
Captain's house. The mountings for a bell used to
signal the shift changes are on the garden wall and
an original ore truck donated by Mr John Corlett
of Ballacowin Farm is in the garden.
adjoining Mine Yard contained a blacksmith's
yard, a carpenters' workshop and a gunpowder
store which is now the public toilets! On the
opposite side of the river were the changing
rooms for the miners who then went underground along the cross cut adit to descend
to the levels where they were working.
accommodated the ponies who pulled ore trucks
from the mine. The buildings washed away in the
1930 flood, a year after the mine officially closed.
Photo: Mine addit
|The building housing Manx Engineers was
formerly an 18th century water driven corn
mill which was operational until the start of
World War 2. The smaller building on the
roadside, with gear shaft lying in the grounds,
was a corn drying kiln.
Opposite, the road and path lead up the line of
the former Browside Tramway and back to the
start of the walk.
18th century former water-driven corn mill
Download a printable Laxey Visitor Guide:
>> low resolution (PDF)
>> high resolution (PDF)
Much of the Information on these pages comes from a printed brochure
coordinated by Laxey Village Commissioners
with kind assistance from Andrew Scarffe of the
Laxey & Lonan Heritage Trust, and Patricia
Newton and Martin Faragher who devised the
trail. Photographs are courtesy of Daniel Kneale,
Andrew Scarffe, Sarah Henthorn, Patricia
Newton and Peter Burgess. The production of
this brochure was funded jointly with Isle of