Historical Interest

Onchan is a district and the name of a parish which historically included parts of the capital, Douglas. Onchan has a thriving shopping centre and a large pleasure park, as well as glens and nature walks.

The name Onchan was derived from Kirk Coonachan, a church named after a Celtic Saint. Lieutenant Buckle Reeves is buried in the churchyard of Onchan's Parish Church (St Peter's) and was the last surviving officer to have sailed with Nelson on the Victory. Captain Bligh of the Bounty married a local girl in an earlier church on the same site.

Fuel Ration Books

Motor Fuel Ration books were issued by the government to combat petrol shortages during the 1973 oil crisis, when the Organisation of Petroleum Producing Countries (OPEC) imposed an oil embargo on Western countries which had supported Israel during the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur war. Ration books were issued on the basis of engine size and horse-power. http://www.ambaile.org.uk/en/item/item_photograph.jsp?item_id=36583

Oil prices rose and it was feared that there may be a 'run' on the petrol stations.

In December 1973, Onchan Village Commissioners applied and were granted rations for three vehicles:-

MMN 269

3 ton, 13 cwt

Class A

746 VMN

90 cwt 2 qtr 

Class B

MN 3955

140 cwt

Class C


The coupon entitlement depended on the unladen weight and on the type of fuel used.  



Unladen Weight

Coupon Type






6 ½ sheets


Diesel Road Vehicle

Over 1 ½ tons; not exceeding 5 tons


2 ½ sheets


Diesel Road Vehicle

Over 5 tons; not exceeding 8 tons


3 sheets

The basic ration was for a six month period and could be claimed for any vehicles that were currently in use and were licensed.    One claim could only be made per vehicle, even when the ownership was changed.   

Formal rationing proved unnecessary and the coupons were never used.

Hector Duff's 100th Birthday Celebrations

To celebrate Hector Duff MM BEM, WWII Veteran's 100th Birthday the three Onchan Schools compiled displays with information about the people who are remembered on the Onchan War Memorial.

There is just a selection of the work below.






Molly Carrooin's Cottage (Skillicorn Cottage)

Molly Carrooin's Cottage

The building which we refer to as Molly Carrooin’s Cottage started out life in the early 1700s.   At that time it was not a cottage but in fact a weaving shed used by Mr Crowe who lived in a cottage where the barber’s car park now stands. 

In the early 1800s this was turned into a cottage by the addition of a chimney stack on the outside of the building (most Manx cottages have the chimney stack on the inside and flue running up within the thickness of the gable wall).  In a will dated 1817 it was referred to as “my little house”. 

The cottage was thatched and the photograph on the mantelpiece, which was taken around about 1860, shows how it was.  Floor level was below the level of the road and therefore the earth floor of the cottage was subject to flooding from time to time.  When a slate roof was put on around 1900 the walls were raised in height and the floor level brought up. 

If you look at the side gable facing the Cassa Field you can see the projecting stones to which ropes were tied to hold down the thatch.  You can also see the line of the original height of wall and the amount by which it has been raised.  The cottage has never had water, gas or electricity let alone drainage. 

Molly Carrooin lived in the house up to the time of the First World War with her sister.  Their only means of support was by taking in washing and this they would dry on the bushes of the black smithy across the road where the Department of Transport depot now stands.  It is reputed that when one sister built up the fire to boil the water for the wash the other sister would go up to the Manx Arms with a jug and have it filled with ale to help them through their task.  When they left the cottage they moved to St Catherines Terrace which runs immediately behind the Manx Arms. 

The Molly Carrooincottage was presented to the commissioners in the 1970s by the Misses Skillicorn of Summerhill Road on condition that it was kept as a traditional Manx cottage.  The cottage has been furnished and is open from time to time courtesy of the Friends of Onchan’s Heritage.   

Onchan Crest

The Local Government District of Onchan

As with many parishes on the Island, a board of Commissioners was established by an Act of Tynwald in 1894.   Onchan Parish Commissioners was formed as the first local authority to look after the affairs of Onchan.  After a year it was decided to set up a separate local authority from within that area to deal with the small but developing village of Onchan (formerly called Kiondroghad in Manx) and so the Onchan Village Commissioners was established in 1895.  

The Crest used is not as old as people think.    The idea of a Commissioners' crest was conceived by amateur historian the late Mr Neil Mathieson who was Chairman of the Commissioners in 1949 and 1950.  The design was undertaken by Mr "Dusty" Miller, a local and talented artist in 1948. 

In 1986 the Village and Parish Commissioners amalgamated and the Crest was adopted by the new board, known as Onchan District Commissioners. 

Description of the Crest 

The design selected has a shield divided into four quarters.  It is supported by a knight’s head and hands with other armorial flourishes in the background.  Above the Knight’s helmet is a design taken from one of the ancient crosses to be found displayed inside the parish church.

The top left-hand quarter shows a strange figure of a “dog head” copied from one of the ancient carved crosses found in Kirk Onchan church yard and now placed for safety inside the Church.   It is the accepted ancient form for St Christopher, “Conchend” in Irish Gaelic, corrupted in Manx Gaelic and evolved to become 'Onchan' or 'Conchan' as it used to be written is thought to be derived from 'Conchend' (Doghead or Wolf-head) which was the Irish Gaelic form of St Christopher (Connaghyn in Manx).   

In the Greek Churches this eastern Saint of the third century is usually depicted as having the head of a dog and looking like an ancient Egyptian divinity.  The reason for this strange fact is not known but it is more than a coincidence that this figure and similar ones on other crosses found in Onchan. 

The top right-hand quarter shows a bridge, often thought to be the Whitebridge but this is not so.   It symbolises the old name for the Village 'Kiondroghad' meaning bridge head and relates to the very beginning of the village nestled beneath the earliest church on the site of the present church yard. 

The bottom left-hand quarter shows heraldic waves to relate to Onchan's position on the coast of the Island.  

The final quarter sows the "Arms of Mann" the famous three legs which has been used to represent the Island for centuries.    This was used to signify that Onchan was part of the Isle of Man.

This picture of a Manx Cross is taken from P M C Kermode's Book - Manx Crosses.    There is a good collection of Manx books available to view within the Manx Reference Section of the Harvey Briggs Onchan Library. 

Motor Boats

Crogga Valley Ferries have fully restored on of the Motorboats which operated at Onchan Park.

Please see the youtube video for the full details.  

Registered Buildings

Registered Buildings are those buildings and structures identified on the Island as having special architectural or historical interest.

There are a number of registered buildings within the Local Government District of Onchan.  For further information please see the government website for registered buildings.  

Onchan Youth and Community Centre

1979 is the year chosen by the Government of the Isle of Man to celebrate 1,000 years of believed unbroken self-government. Each local authority or district had been asked to assist in the celebrations by brining to light some part of its own history and thus our Island Heritage can be enjoyed by visitor and local alike.

In Onchan the Parish and Village Commissioners have joined together to produce a programme of events that should not only provide some enjoyment to their participants and spectators, but should ultimately provide a lasting benefit to 

the future generations of Onchan Residents. Each event promoted is intended to be fund raising, and the proceeds are to go towards the erection of a Youth and Community Centre on the Lily Pond site in the School Road Recreation Field.

Other events are being promoted by clubs, societies and even individuals in an effort to achieve this long sought after building. A 'Buy a Brick' scheme has been launched and purchasers of bricks stand a chance of winning prizes in Tombola to be held in November.

architects image.