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Looking down Big Well Street, Douglas

Date(s): 1912

Scope & Content: On the back of this photograph Frowde writes, 'Looking down Big Well St. from rear of Clinch's Brewery. The two low houses (brick) on left are John Happy Quirk's 'Happy City of Senna'. Tablet in centre of upper storey. The two houses referred to were only two of the three that comprised the 'City of Senna'. There was a third at the rear of these, half way up the broogh, approached by a long flight of steps. This appears in a demolition view of Big Well St. in my collection. Three inches from L. John Happy Quirk's two cottages (with another tucked in, up steps behind them). Tablet visible between the two windows of each house. This, a sandstone slab, bore the legend, 'The Happy City of Senna', John Happy Quirk' and the date of erection. He was a quaint individual, & I knew him well. Invariably wore knee breeches & a peaked cap like a bus inspector. Expert dry-waller, and an equally expert mason of the ordinary type. The little clutter of houses below the police station was built by him, & he lived in the one squeezed into the corner with his 'coat of arms' - implements of his trade emblazoned thereon, over the doorway (still there). I think that the 'Happy' was a self-conferred Christian name. Always smiling, with dark epressive eyes that always joined in the smile, he was the happiest man in Douglas - if somewhat eccentric in the minor matter of architectural nomenclature. When apprentice at Brearey's, circa 1888, I knew him as a devout attendant at the Nunnery Chapel, reconditioned just previously by Mr John Leigh Goldie-Taubman: and at that time he was employed, dry-walling & ordinary walling, on the Estate. There were many quaint characters at that time, still in Douglas, but most of them disreputable: yet their resourcefulness and impudent audacity appealed to the business community, with the result that they were always in sufficient funds to get comfortably 'blotto', which could only involve an outlay of very few coppers those times, & having that standard of living assured, nothing else mattered particularly. John Happy was in a class by himself I think. Ultra respectable and sincerely pious and industrious. He was none the less a character & I don't suppose a picture, photo or otherwise of this quaint Manxman is in existence today. I have an idea that, early on, I can remember him living in a small house in Senna Road. Hence, perhaps, the 'Senna'. 'S. Olave's, Hart St., Pepys' old church, Dickens in 'The Uncommercial Traveller described as 'St. Ghastly Grim.' This is 'Ghastly Blue St.' - Dudley Scarffe -over-printed.' 'Mr Cubbon says (1947) that the well was behind the erection in the right foreground. N. M. [?] [another hand].'

Language: eng

Physical description: black & white print

Item name: photograph

Collection: Photographic Archive

Level: ITEM

ID number: PG/8224/11/6


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