Derby Castle

Derby Castle

Situated at the North end of Douglas Bay. Two houses masquerading as one larger one. Originally built for Major Pollock by J. Skillicorn of Onchan probably to a design of John Robinson.

Pollock built it for rent - he lived at Strathallan Lodge (now the Terminus Tavern) a little to the south.

It was acquired in 1877 by Douglas advocate Mr. A.N.Laughton who built a dance hall in its grounds.

The woodblock, taken from Brown's Penny Guide (of c.1892?) shows a rather exaggerated driveway from the ornate gate house (very similar to that used at Falcon cliff) which was next to Strathallan lodge (in 1896 to be taken over by the Electric Railway company to developed into the Terminus Tavern.

The low sea wall separating the grounds from the sea can be seen.

Just about visible at top left is the camera obscura situated in Victoria Park

Derby Castle Pleasure Ground

Derby castle + dancehall

The houses formed the start of the Derby Castle complex, shown in these two Edwardian postcards.

The original building, of which a tower is visible in the 1845 lithograph is now dwarfed by the huge dance hall of 1886.

This dancehall, designed by W.J. Rennison was some 194 feet by 71 ft and capable of accommodating 2000 dancers.

Interior Derby Castle Dance Hall c.1905

Interior of Derby Castle

Laughton financed the project by forming the Derby Castle Company in 1878 with initially £15,000 in shares (by 1889 £20,000) subscribed to by six Douglas businessmen, including J.A. Brown of the IoM Times who was soon to start his own rival Palace complex and who ultimately became the controlling power behind the Palace and Derby Castle Company.

Laughton had much trouble obtaining a drinks licence - originally he obtained a 6-day only licence but opened on Sunday, providing coffee etc. as well as 'sacred concerts'.

For a rather anodyne and partial account of the company post Laughton see the 1921 account.

By the 1960's the complex was outdated and run down - it was bought by Douglas Corporation in the late 1960's, demolished and the ill-fated Summerland complex built on the site (to a design by J.P. Lomas) which opened in 1972. This involved the use of much acrylic Plexiglas sheeting to provide insulation and natural lighting. It was this that caught fire resulting in the death of some 51 holiday makers - it was partially rebuilt but was finally demolished 2007.


Amusements in Douglas Isle of Man Times 1921

The Summerland Story Douglas: Island Printers Ltd 1972

Robert Kelly The Summerland Story Times Monographs series 1 #3 Douglas: Times Press 1972 (shares much of text pictures with above)

Rise and Fall of Derby Castle IoMFamily History Soc Journal vol XXIII #1 pp25/29 Feb 2001.

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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001