Castletown, Isle of Man

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For other places with the same name, see Castletown (disambiguation).
Manx: Balley Chashtal
Castle Rushen.jpg
Castle Rushen seen across Castletown Harbour at low tide
Castletown is located in Isle of Man
 Castletown shown within the Isle of Man
Population 3,109 (Isle of Man census 2006)[1]
OS grid reference SC263675
   – Douglas  8.9 miles (14 km) ENE 
Parish Malew
Sheading Rushen
Crown dependency Isle of Man
Post town ISLE OF MAN
Postcode district IM9
Dialling code 01624
Police Isle of Man
Fire Isle of Man
Ambulance Isle of Man
House of Keys Castletown
List of places
Isle of Man

Coordinates: 54°04′27″N 4°39′14″W / 54.074167°N 4.653889°W / 54.074167; -4.653889

Castletown (Manx: Balley Chashtal, pronounced [ˈbalʲə ˈxaʃtʃəl]) is a town geographically within the Malew parish of the Isle of Man but administered separately. Lying at the south of the island, it was the Manx capital until 1869. The centre of town is dominated by Castle Rushen, a well-preserved castle.


Castletown is the former capital of the Isle of Man and site of Tynwald, and can trace its roots back to 1090. The town has narrow streets and small fishing cottages. Fishing boats still continue to go out to fish from the harbour. Commercial traffic to the port ended in the 1970s, although there has been an ongoing expansion of finance and industrial businesses in the area.[2] The first telephones appeared in Castletown in 1901.

Captain John Quilliam RN
In memory of Colonel Cornelius Smelt


Castletown is, along with Douglas, Peel and Ramsey, one of four town local authorities. They were all designated as towns by the Town Act 1852. Castletown became a local authority in 1883. It is also a House of Keys constituency, electing one Member of the House of Keys (MHK). The town's representative until 2011 was Tony Brown who was the Chief Minister of the Isle of Man after the Manx general election, 2006. He retired in 2011 and was replaced as MHK for Castletown by Richard Ronan. In 1874, the House of Keys moved from Castletown to Douglas.[3]


  • The Isle of Man Census 2011 lists the town's population as 3,097 (2006: 3,109)[1]
  • It is the fourth largest town on the island, after Douglas, Ramsey and Peel, but is also smaller than Onchan and Port Erin, which have the status of villages.


Aerial View (from the west)

The town lies on the northwest side of Castletown Bay. The opposite shore of the bay is the west coast of the distinctively-shaped Langness Peninsula.

To the north-east are Ronaldsway Airport and industrial zone, and the village of Ballasalla; to the north-west the villages of Ballabeg and Colby; and to the west Port St. Mary and Port Erin. The A3 road connects Castletown with Ramsey via St John's, while the A5 road (also known as New Castletown Road as opposed to the Old Castletown Road which takes a more rural route nearer the coast) connects the town with Douglas to the north-east and Port Erin to the west.

The A25 road was the historical route to Douglas and is now bypassed by the A5. There are free electric car charging stations available in a car park in the centre of the town. The town has several car parks including one above the harbour close to the old school house, to the rear of the Castle Arms and off Victoria Road as well as dedicated parking for the local bank, supermarkets and the railway station. The southern end of the Millennium Way long-distance footpath is at Castletown.


No. 4 Loch Castletown railway station (1978)
Station Platform, Castletown railway station


Bus services operate through the town to Douglas, Port St. Mary and Port Erin using route numbers 1, 2, 11 and 12; these run about every twenty minutes on weekdays and Saturdays with a less frequent service at weekends and after 6.00pm. Some of these services (1c and 11b) do not run through the town but use the bypass road. The route is the island's busiest, in part because it also serves Ronaldsway Airport just outside the town. A late evening service also operates on Friday and Saturday evenings, called the Hullaid Oie (Night Owl) which charges premium fare rates. There are also occasional buses to Peel (Service No. 8) via Foxdale; all these buses are within the island's transport network Bus Vannin, a government-run service which replaced the railway-operated Isle of Man Road Services in 1976.


The town is also served by Castletown railway station, on the sole remaining section of the Isle of Man Railway, a 3 ft narrow gauge steam-operated railway from Douglas to Port Erin. The railway station is on the northeasterly edge of the town next to Poulsom Park and playing fields, and was at one time used to transport beer from the Castletown Brewery as well as cattle and other livestock; remnants of the cattle dock are still visible at the railway station, which is open seasonally between March and November as well as weekends around Christmas; there is a small volunteer group, the Friends of Castletown Railway Station, who tend to the area in association with the Isle of Man Steam Railway Supporters' Association, a local charity.


The island's only commercial airport, Ronaldsway Airport, is just over one mile northeast of the town and is served by both Bus Vannin and Castletown railway station as well as local taxi services. The airport runways and aprons spread over the area to the edge of the grounds of King William's College and close to the Janet's Corner local authority housing estate. The airport was first used as an airfield in 1928, with passenger services to the mainland commencing in 1933.


Sunset Over King William's College

Private college[edit]

King William's College is an independent school. Founded in 1668 with funds from the Bishop Barrow Trust, it opened in 1833 with 46 boys. It is now co-educational, with about 500 pupils. The college has two sites in the town: the main estate is near the shore of Castletown Bay at the end of the main airport runway, and the Buchan School, the college's junior school, is in the Westhill area of Castletown, about 1¼ miles (2 km) from the main campus.

State schools[edit]

Other schools are: Castle Rushen High School, a co-educational secondary state school in the south-west of the town; and one primary school, Victoria Road School, originally opened as a boys' school in 1895, with a girls' school in Hope Street.[4] The old grammar school in the town, which later became a chapel, is now an exhibit of a Victorian period schoolroom, part of the Story of Mann. This is open to the public between Easter and November and can be found close to the castle and the Old House of Keys.


Birmingham Citadel Band
Old St. Mary's Church (Background)
St. Mary's Catholic Church


There are three churches in the town. Castletown Methodist Church on Arbory Street, founded in 1932, is part of the Methodist Church in the Isle of Man, which in turn is part of the British Methodist Connexion. It can trace its story back to the visits of the founder of Methodism John Wesley to the town in the 18th century. It is sometimes known locally as Arbory Street to distinguish it from Malew Street when the former was the Wesleyan Methodist and the latter the Primitive Methodist Chapel.


On the town square is Old St Mary's Church, which is now office accommodation. It once had a spire, but this was lost in the early 1900s. The "new" St Mary's on the harbour replaced this church and can be found in Hope Street, to the side of Thirtle Bridge. Known as "St Mary's on the Harbour", it is the Anglican parish church. The church building was consecrated as a church in 1985 when the congregation moved from the Garrison (Old St Mary's) Church in Castletown Square.[5]


St Mary's Roman Catholic Church is on Bowling Green Road, near Janet's Corner. It was built in the 1820s: it was the first post-Reformation Catholic Church to be built on the island.[6] It is the third church in the town to be dedicated to Mary, after[clarification needed] the title of the Rushen Abbey of St. Mary. Its windows depicting the Annunciation and the Resurrection were made by the Clarke Brothers of Dublin.


Further afield is Malew Church, just over a mile north of the town on the A4 road towards St. John's, a road which forms part of the Billown Circuit. This has its own graveyard, unlike the churches in the town; the road which doglegs around the church grounds has the title Church Bends on the racing circuit.

King William's[edit]

There is also a private chapel at King William's College, which was built in 1878, consecrated 28 January the following year. Designed by local architect James Cowle it features a scissor-braced roof with canopied stalls. Two-sided windows commemorate T.E. Brown, an old boy of the college.


Castletown Golf Links
Poulsom Park, Castletown R.U.F.C.
Stadium Corner, Castletown
Southern Swimming Pool


The town has a thriving sports community, including Castletown Metropolitan F.C. who play in the Isle of Man Football League and are based at the Castletown Football Stadium, Malew Road. Formed in 1904, the club is one of the most successful on the Isle of Man. They have been champions of the Isle of Man League eight times, including three consecutive seasons from 1922-23 to 1924-25 and won the Manx F.A. Cup seven times.[7][8]


There are two Rugby Union football clubs in the town; both play in the Manx Shield:

Castletown R.U.F.C. are based at Poulsom Park. The club now has permanent changing facilities. These were officially opened in October 2006 and built with the support of the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Manx Lottery Trust, Manx Sports Council, Castletown Commissioners and the members of the team. With the newly formed Castletown Rugby Union Football Club Limited, the club has secured the tenure on the pitch at Poulsom Park, having taken on a lease from the Castletown Commissioners.

Southern Nomads R.U.F.C. are based at King William's College.


Castletown cricket club is based at King William's College and is a member of the Isle of Man Cricket Association.[9]


Castletown Golf & Country Club is located on the Langness Peninsula. It is a tournament golf course, and is a Top 100 course designed by Old Tom Morris and redesigned by Mackenzie Ross. The 17th hole has the unusual feature of a drive over the Irish Sea. The links has hosted, among other events, the PGA Cup (1979), Europro Tour 2002, Manx Classic Pro Am and the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy in 2003 and again in 2005.


The Billown Circuit motor cycling course has its start line in the town. The course is home to the Southern 100, a motorcycle racing event held on the Isle of Man in July of each year. The event was first held in 1955, when there were three races for different classes of motorcycles; the current calendar includes twelve races for various classes. The paddock, clubhouse and race control are all located on the outskirts of the town.


Castletown Bowling Club is located at the Crofts.[10]


Next to the bowling green is Castletown Lawn Tennis Club, probably the most successful tennis club on the Isle of Man. With teams in all local leagues. The club has recently won 6 leagues in the 2010-11 season.[11]


Southern Swimming Pool is a 25-metre, five lane short course pool.[12]

World Championship Tin Bath Races[edit]

This annual event takes place in the middle harbour; it is organised by the Castletown Ale Drinkers' Society and sponsored by local breweries, with support from the Isle of Man Department of Community, Culture and Leisure and further sponsorship from local radio station Three FM. It raises money for local charities. Each year there are over 100 competitors and teams from the Isle of Man and elsewhere. In 2011 the event celebrated its 40th anniversary.

2011 Commonwealth Youth Games[edit]

The "culture day" prior to the closing ceremony of the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games was held in Castletown on 12 September 2011 with competitors all travelling by steam train to the town square, where a number of attractions were laid on.[13]


Old House of Keys,
off Castletown Square,
open seasonally by
Manx National Heritage
  • Old Grammar School was originally built as a chapel about 1190-1230 and is located in the harbour to the rear of the town square at the side of a large car park. The building stopped being a school in the 1930s and is now a museum exhibit open seasonally in connection with the other Story of Mann sites in the town.[14]
  • Nautical Museum (also known as the Peggy Story in recent times) opened in 1951; the main focus of the museum is an 18th-century yacht, the Peggy (Peggy of Castletown), housed in the boat cellar, where she has been since the 19th century. She had been bricked up and forgotten before being rediscovered by workmen.[15] In early 2015, Peggy was moved to Douglas for conservation in a climate controlled facility.[16]
  • Museum of Witchcraft was in existence in the town for a short period at the Witches Mill which has since been redeveloped as flats. It was operated by the self-proclaimed witch Gerald Gardner who ran it under the title Folklore Centre of Superstition and Witchcraft, becoming a familiar figure in the town.
  • The railway station was constructed in 1902 from locally sourced limestone from Scarlett Point and has been extensively refurbished in recent times, notably being overhauled in 1994 to original form[clarification needed]. It is open seasonally and many people's first encounter with the town is their arrival at the railway station, which is a short walk from the centre.


Much of the attraction of Castletown is in the quality of its period buildings, many constructed of the local silver-grey limestone. The layout of the town centre still retains its early arrangement, echoing the cluster of houses around the military parade ground, which still has its alternative use as market place. The interested visitor can still identify the original building plots, and the crofts attached to them, which have given their name to a residential area close to the town centre.

Notable people[edit]

Members of the House of Keys and elections[edit]

Year Election Turnout Candidates Elected Notes

General election



By election



General election



General election



General election



General election



General election



General election



General election



By election


Death of Sir Joseph David Qualtrough CBE





General election



General election



General election




General election



General election

Elected unopposed


General election


  • Tony Brown (876 votes)
  • Elsie Pickard (467 votes)
  • Carol Edge (102 votes)

General election

Elected unopposed


General election


General election


  1. ^ a b "Isle of Man Census 2006 Summary Results" (PDF). Economic Affairs Division, Isle of Man Treasury. 2006. p. 3. Retrieved 28 September 2008. 
  2. ^ "Castletown". Isle of Man Guide. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  3. ^ "Old House of Keys". Isle of Man Guide. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  4. ^ "Victoria Road School". Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  5. ^ "Castletown Parish Church St. Mary's on the Harbour". Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  6. ^ "St Mary's Catholic Church". Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  7. ^ "Isle of Man 1897/98 and 1970/71-1994/95". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. 29 May 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2008. 
  8. ^ "Isle of Man List of Cup Winners". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. 8 June 2008. Retrieved 10 September 2008. 
  9. ^ "IOMCA Member Clubs". Isle of Man Cricket Association. Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  10. ^ "Castletown Bowling Club". Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  11. ^ "Castletown Lawn Tennis Club". Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  12. ^ It is situated in the same grounds as Castle Rushen High School. "Southern Swimming Pool". Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  13. ^ "2011 venues". 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games. Retrieved 21 September 2008. 
  14. ^ "Old Grammar School". Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  15. ^ "Nautical museum". Retrieved 29 September 2008. 
  16. ^ Archaeologists move 'Britain's oldest yacht', BBC News Isle of Man/Ellan Vannin, 29 January, 2015

External links[edit]