curiouswombat (curiouswombat) wrote in photo_scavenger,


I got involved with the 64 Million Artists January Challenge this year, although being without computer access for almost half the month meant it was a rather patchy involvement.

One of the challenges was to write something about a local historical building or person. I thought it fitted so nicely with this challenge here that I have combined the two.

So - here is the photo I took for History, and under the cut is the history behind it, and a couple more of my pictures taken in the past, to illustrate it.


This may look like a small castle on a rock - perhaps a rich man's folly...

Here it is in relation t the rest of the bay.

365 week 46 Sunday

But just imagine that bay before they built the breakwater, and the tide is covering the rock on which the tower stands, as it does in that second picture. Now add on a stormy day when the sea in the bay looks like this;

stormy weather Nov 2011 Douglas 3

And you can begin to understand why it is called the Tower of Refuge.

It was the idea of Sir William Hillary (who helped to found the Royal National Lifeboat Institution) when he lived in Douglas, on the Isle of Man. He had helped local men attempt to rescue survivors of shipwrecks on the semi-submerged rocks, and watched in dismay as the ships broke up and people drowned, so close to land.

He decided what was needed was a refuge for survivors until help could arrive. Sir William personally contributed a high proportion of the costs, alongside public contributions, and the Tower was completed in 1832.

The ground floor was simply for access to the higher floors, so people could get above the tide, and food and dry wood for a fire were kept in those upper rooms, replenished regularly.

Oddly, there have been no major shipwrecks on St Mary's rock since the tower was completed - quite possibly because it made it obvious where the rock is! And, of course boats and navigation have changed over the years.

But Sir William still stands on Douglas Head, looking out over his tower.

douglas head 002

Tags: curiouswombat, history
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded