Ramsey: past & present


Written by Ray Stanfield with George Hobbs and Sara Goodwins

Old photographs supplied by Ray Stanfield with matching modern photographs by George Hobbs. Captions by Sara Goodwins.

“The Market Place and most of St Paul’s Square flooded at high tide and was known as Ramsey Lake, while Waterloo Road was a marshy area called the Lough. The Market Place wasn’t filled in until 1835, and ships occasionally moored in front of St Paul’s Church”.

Ramsey: past and present, page 4

ISBN: 978-1-908060-38-9 Categories: ,

With Ramsey Bay offering a safe haven to shipping, and the Sulby River creating a usable harbour, Ramsey grew to serve the needs of the seafaring community.

It is the most low-lying town on the Isle of Man and the one considered most at risk from overtopping. Occasionally the sea invades the town and Ramsey locals, as their predecessors have done for centuries, pay the price for their proximity to the waves.

One hundred years ago fishermen offered their wares at the quayside, children played in the sea and streets of the old town, and tourists landed by steamer on the iron pier.

But Ramsey has changed. In the 1960s and 70s much of the oldest part of the town was swept away by developers. Only photographs and postcards such as those in this book can now show us parts of Ramsey's past.

We're getting something of reputation for these past and present books. Ramsey joins, Castletown, Peel and Port Erin in what has become a series.

From the Publisher

Putting together a book containing photographs drawn from old postcards always brings home how personal, and often treasured, such items were.

A century ago most ordinary people couldn't afford photography except occasionally a formal portrait to celebrate a wedding. And with its heavy, specialised equipment, and chemical processes to produce the picture, most people couldn't understand it either. So it's always pleasing when a postcard is sent by someone who features on it. In Ramsey: past & present the young sender of the card is sitting with friends pictured watching a swimming gala. Even more surprising are the two gossiping ladies with their dog in Parliament Street. The sender proudly points out that she is one of the ladies and even names the dog to her correspondent (page 27).

Even rarer than senders featuring on the postcards, however, is the photographer or at least his team featuring on it. Ramsey was home to the famous photographer and producer of postcards Thomas Horsfell Midwood. Whether as a record or for advertisement we may never know, but T.H. Midwood photographed his staff, most of whom were members of his family, at work on stacks of glass plates in the backyard of his shop.  The photograph is shown on the back cover of the book.  We even know their names.

Perhaps not quite a selfie, but very near it.

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