Board of Advertising

Initially the Advertising Committe of Tynwald - set up under the 1894 Advertising Rates Act which allowed the levying of a rate (property tax) to support advertising what had by then become a major industry on the Island. This committee was renamed Board of Advertising under a 1904 amendment - representatives from the various Local Authorities were included on the Board under a later 1917 amendment. However I shall use the Board of Advertising title for all of these. The power to levy a rate was never actually used - the funding coming from the revenue stream though sometimes an accounting arrangement via the asylum rate was adopted.

The Island lagged behind Blackpool, its main competitor for the Nothern Working Class, in organising advertising that worked for the Island as a whole, rather than specific concerns. Blackpool, with what Walton describes as 'an unusually active innovative and interventionist local authority' had obtained such power in 1879, via a drafting error in a Parliamentary Bill that allowed the town to levy a twopenny rate to advertise the town or to provide a band for the season. Other towns seeing this advantage but without the Parliamentary 'permission' were prevented by the Westminster Local Government Board who did not consider Advertising as a legitimate item on the rates - a situation that remained, according to Walton, well into the 20th century though some towns managed to use revenue streams from tourist related activities to fund advertising. Hall Caine, in giving evidence to the MacDonnell Commission of 1911 stated [Vol 2 p245] :

As the Isle of Man depends now so largely on the visiting industry, and the industries of agriculture and fishing are so closely allied to the visiting industry, I think the rule in respect of public advertising in Great Britain should be relaxed, so as to permit the levting of a small rate for purposes of better advertising facilities.

I think the money raised by the rate should be, as at present, under the control of a Committee of Tynwald Court, but subject to the discretion of the Lieutenant-Governor and his Advisory Council, and such expert assistance as he might call for.

I think public advertising ought to be subject to the veto of the Lieutanant-Governor.

Writing in 1900, Moore states "But there is one industry, for so it may really be called, that of provision for summer visitors, which, since 1866, has taken vast strides" but neither gives any discussion nor includes it under his triumvirate of the great industies of Agriculture, Fishing and Mining, yet even by 1900 it was comparable and would very shortly exceed the latter two. James Ducker, President of Boarding and Lodging House Association, in his evidence to MacDonnell [Vol 2 Appendix XXX pp279/80] pointed out how much the Island agriculture had adapted to provide for the tourist trade and compared the wide discrepancy between prices paid on the Island for eggs, milk, meat etc and those obtained in rural Ireland.

The budget of the Advertsing Board was some £1,750 for 1910 - this money was allocated under the authority of the Lieutenant Governor and not subject to a vote in Tynwald, a situation that had previously caused a rift between the appointed Council and the elected MHK's some of whom wished to increase it; B.E.Segaunt in his evidence to MacDonnell [¶939] stated that Tynwald Court had recently [1910] appointed a committee to look into control of the advertising budget (and other matters).

Ducker in his evidence was critical both of the amount and the makeup of the committee:-

His Excellency promised, if the country would show their belief in advertising and that they were willing to help themselves by levying a penny rate, he would contribute an equal amount, which, with what was already contributed from revenue, would bring the total for advertising to 5,0001. annually; but no, the farmer would have none of it. ...

About fifteen or sixteen years ago we had an Advertising Board established, the number of visitors went up by leaps and bounds. At that time we were the only pleasure resort advertising its wares. Then Blackpool got a rate and they have boomed Blackpool almost over the world. Other places have followed suit. Ireland, for instance, and Wales have spent huge sums, Great Yarmouth, Morecambe, Harrogate, Southsea, Scarborough, Skegness, etc., etc., now advertise extensively. The municipality of Blackpool have powers to rate. They spend on city hoarding, posters alone, 5,0001. annually, besides double-royals in all railway stations. Our poverty precludes. We have no city hoarding, nor have we a single double-royal in a single Irish or Scotch railway station. Poverty precludes.

In advertising we have stood still for fifteen years...

We are not satisfied with the composition. The Advertising Board is appointed by Tynwald, the Receiver-General as Chairman. Members composed as follows:- The Mayor of Douglas and the Chairman of the Town and Village Commissioners. No consideration is given as to whether they understand the work of the Board. As a matter of fact there was one man who never advertised in his life - did not believe in advertising. If he could have had his way we would not spend one penny in advertising the Island.

He went on to suggest that £5000 pa be spent - Mr T. Stowell, general Manager of IoM Railways also supported an increase stating that it ought to be at least £3000 pa.

As stated by Ducker, Blackpool's main campaign was via the 'classless' picture poster which it used to extend its catchment area into the English Midlands and being based on a specific rate the advertising budget grew with the increased prosperity of the town.

The Board produced its first Official Guide for the 1896 season - though similar generic advertising had been produced by the IoMSPCo for many years earlier (e.g. in 1891 Hall Caine's 'Little Man Island') these guides included a list of those offering accomodation Similar guides, though in a smaller format and without the attractive cover were produced each year up to 1914 - the text being updated as appropriate. Post WW1 the list of accomodation was not included though the booklet contained numerous small advertisements for individual accomodation.

Reading it leads to the conclusion that the Advertsing Board were unsure of their target audience. Walton suggests that Blackpool, though it attracted other classes, had decided that its main clientele would be the industrial working class, amusements and accomodation were thus mainly addressed to this market. The early Manx guides are written in a style that would appeal more to the educated public, it promotes the Island as a health resort, lay considerable emphasis in sections on modern drainage, discus Golf and King William's College, only briefly mentioning the huge dancing palaces that sprung up in Douglas from the early 1890s.


John Beckerson Advertising the Island, 1894-1913 unpublished BA thesis University of East Anglia 1996 (copy in Manx Museum).

John K. Walton The Blackpool Landlady Manchester: University Press 1978 (ISBN 0-7190-0723-2) - well recommended and one from which many Manx analogies can be drawn.

HMSO Report of the Departmental Committee on the Constitution &c. of the Isle of Man London: HMSO (Cd 5950, & Cd 6026)1911 - MacDonnell Commission of 1911.

Brief mention (though little discussion)of the formation of the Board in

J. Belchen (ed) The Modern Period 1830-1999 Vol 5 A New History of the Isle of Man Liverpool: University Press 2000 (ISBN 0-85323-726-3 (the chapter on ecconomic history is generally poor mostly relying uncritically on secondary sources.)

D. G. Kermode Offshore Island Politics Liverpool: University Press 2001 (ISBN 0-85323-787-5)



Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2002