Historic Douglas Promenade

 


Here are some archive photographs of Douglas Promenade.

To view a video of archive footage of the promenade, scroll to the bottom of the page.

 

 

One of the earliest photographs of Douglas Bay. Look closely and you'll see there is no promenade!
Before Loch Prom was built in 1876 the houses on Sand Street (as it was called in those days) backed onto the beach and were often flooded.


From the earliest days bathing on the beach was popular.For reasons of modesty (and there were lots of complaints in the local newspapers about the skimpiness of some bathing costumes) bathing vans were employed.

Bathers were expected to change in these vans which could be pulled into the water by horses. Note the bed sheets to the left of the picture drying in the sun.



This photo shows the Castle Mona when it was a hotel with the magnificent Palace ballroom next to it.
Above the trees to the right you can just see the top of the Falcon Cliff ballroom.



The Palace ballroom and theatre was the finest entertainment venue on the Island. The theatre could seat two thousand people and the ballroom could hold up to four thousand people.
The Falcon Cliff complex, up on the hill, eventually closed as it couldn't compete, even though a cliff lift was installed to tempt people off the promenade.


 


The magnificent interior of the Palace ballroom - claimed to be the biggest in Europe.


 


The Loch Promenade was completed in 1876.
The Sunken Gardens were a later addition being completed in 1934.




During the holiday season on sunny days the beach was always packed, though old habits died hard - wearing a suit to work often meant wearing it on the beach as well!



Long before there was a Villa Marina entertainment complex there was an actual Villa Marina on the site, a Regency mansion house with enclosed grounds known as Marina Lodge.


It once housed the Lieutenant Governor but in later years it was owned by Henry Bloom Noble.
Above the trees to the left you can see the top of the old marker tower, built as an aid to shipping and which is still there.



When he died in 1902 at the age of 87, Henry Bloom Noble was one of the richest men on the Island.


Through his bequests the modern Villa Marina, the Noble's Baths, Noble's Park and Noble's Hospital were all created.



The Villa Marina was constructed as an eight-sided hall and it has superb acoustics for concerts.

It was opened in July 1913 as a grand entertainment centre and has proved immensely popular ever since.




In 2005 it was remodelled and extended and continues to serve the whole Island as an important venue for entertainment and functions.



In their heyday the hotels on Douglas promenade were magnificent.Their interiors were superbly decorated and they offered the best in accommodation and catering.
This is the interior of the Hydro Hotel which could seat up to 180 guests at a time for breakfast and then for a three-course lunch and three-course evening meal.




The hotels on the front were packed all season and one morning each week it was traditional for a photographer to call round and take a photograph of all the guests, copies of which they could purchase at the end of their stay.




Deck chairs were hired out as well....



During the Second World War most of the hotels were used as internment camps for enemy aliens.
Hoteliers were given just a few days' notice to leave their premises and find somewhere else to live as barbed wire fences were put up along the centre of the prom to keep the internees in.




The Loch Promenade was eventually used as a naval land base, HMS Valkyrie, and over thirty thousand cadets passed through for training in the art of commuunications and radar.




The Crescent site has seen many changes over the years. Before the cinema was built there was a pavilion which had minstrel shows throughout the season.



The Crescent Cinema was eventually pulled down to make way for a development of apartments.


Part of the planning condition was that the white-tiled facade of the old cinema be kept.



Nowadays the promenade is used for all sorts of extra events, such as the Fair in TT week...



and a visiting Food Market.

To learn more about Douglas, visit the Corporation's website by clicking here: http://www.douglas.gov.im/


Don't forget to bookmark this page in case you want to view it again later.

 

Click on the video above to see some archive footage of Douglas Promenade between the 1920s and the 1970s.

View a map of other places on the Island