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Paraffin barrel used to supply Chicken Rock lighthouse

Date made: mid 20th century

Description: An oval section wooden cask or barrel used to supply the Chicken Rock lighthouse in the 1960s, when the lighthouse was supplied from Port St Mary. Obtained by the donor in early 1970s from Philip Kneale. Michael Kneale, son of Philip, states (2021) that the plain wooden barrels were used for paraffin and those for water were painted grey, to prevent cross contamination. He further states: "My father had nothing to do with the Northern Lights Board but my brother crewed for John Gawne (Island Maid, CT47), who had the NLB contract in the 1960s/70s ... There were lots of them about, no longer necessary when the Chicken light was automated. Many people will have adopted these high quality small barrels for various purposes. It will have been varnished subsequent to its real use. They were bare wood and metal for paraffin - any type of finish would dissolve with the paraffin leaching gently through the timber....we later made one pair into loudspeaker cabinets! ...The NLB built a store by the Ballaveare (pronounced Boolavur) jetty for oils and equipment. It was later adopted by Juan Clague ... as his boat store. [The NLB] originally had their own vessel moored in Purt Verk for relief purposes, replaced by another after WW2 but John Gawne tended to use his own vessel, the Island Maid - more reliable engine!"

The Chicken Rock lighthouse was built between 1869 and 1875, by David and Thomas Stevenson. All of the components, including cut blocks of stone, were collected at Port St Mary before being assembled on the rock. The lighthouse marks a particularly dangerous reef which is almost submerged. In the 1990s the Northern Lighthouse Board undertook a programme of fully automating all of its lighthouses around the coast of the Isle of Man.

The name Chicken Rock derives from the many Storm Petrels to be seen in the vicinity. These birds are known as 'Mother Carey's Chickens'!

Materials: iron, wood

Object name: barrel

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2021-0017


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