Onchan (pronounced onk-an), is a village (Kione Droghad – Bridge End) in parish of Onchan in the Isle of Man. It is at the north end of Douglas Bay. Although administratively a village, it has the second largest population on the island, after Douglas, with which it forms a conurbation.
In Manx the name for the village is Kione Droghad (Bridge End).
In 1890s a 5,000 year old stone age axe was found in the Cassa Field by Onchan wetlands. In the Viking reign Onchan became part of Middle sheading. The name of the village is identified with St Connachan who was Bishop
of Sodor and Man
in 540 and the church named after him, Kirk Coonachan. An early name for the village is Kiondroghad which literally translated means "bridgehead". The earliest written record of Kiondroghad was in the 1643 Manorial Roll, when it was very small. The name Kiondroghad appeared on the 1841 census but not the subsequent one a decade later.
The village of Kiondroghad remained little changed for a couple of centuries apart for the old cottages being replaced by newer ones if they fell into disrepair. Gradually the village moved out of Church Road, known locally as The Butt, and spread a little. At the junction with the track that led towards the mountains (Avondale Road) a few more cottages appeared in the early 1800s. As Onchan approached the 20th century land was sold off for terraces of houses to be built.
In the early 20th century development was taking place in the Port Jack area as part of the Douglas Bay Estate Company’s promotion of land sales on the Howstrake Farm. Coupled with this they built an electric urban railway which later became a coastal railway to Ramsey. However, it never achieved its goal of connecting with the heart of Douglas to act as a commuter run. There was then was a mixture of private houses, terraced houses and guesthouses to take the overflow of visitors to Douglas. Further development took place in the 1930s. After World War II development gradually continued and in the 1960s the village commissioners built local authority housing.
William Bligh, an officer of the British Royal Navy, and best known as "Captain Bligh" of Mutiny on the Bounty fame, married Elizabeth Betham, the daughter of a Customs Collector, on 4 February 1781 in Onchan.
During the Victorian and Edwardian tourism boom Onchan made a bid to become the island's second resort, encouraging the building hotels and guesthouses. The Manx Electric Railway was constructed in 1893 and in the early 1900s Lower Onchan, around the Port Jack area, was the first area on the island to have electric-powered street lighting, powered by the Manx Electric Railway generators. The official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, the representative on the Isle of Man of the Lord of Mann, currently Queen Elizabeth II, is Government House on Governor's Road. Originally named Bemahague House, the house was leased to Governor Henry B. Loch in 1865, and purchased by the Isle of Man Government in 1903 as the official residence for the Sovereign's representative.
Onchan is now principally a dormitory village, providing homes for workers in nearby Douglas.
The Isle of Man census 2006 lists the population as 9,172, an increase from the population of 8,803 in 2001. It is the largest village on the island. It also has a higher population than three of the four towns - Castletown
, making it the second largest settlement on the island.
There are two Manx Electric Railway line stopping places in Onchan. Onchan Head railway station
was the first official stopping place on the line and served the former White City pleasure grounds. There is also a stop at Port Jack.
There are two primary schools in Onchan, Onchan Primary School on School Road with nearly 400 pupils and Ashley Hill Primary School (Scoill Cronk Ashley) on Ashley Road which was opened on 9 November
and has about 350 pupils. Most students in the village go to Douglas for high school
Religion in Onchan
The Church of England
parish church in Onchan is St Peters on Church Road. The original church dated back to the 12th century
which was dedicated to St Conchan. By 1760 the walls and roof had become dangerous and it was condemned in 1771. However, nothing was done until The Bishop of Sodor and Man
, Bishop Ward
commissioned a new church, and a foundation stone for the new church was laid in 1830, but due to pressures from the parishioners, was moved to its current position. The church was consecrated in 1833 and built by John Samuel Skillicorn. It was dedicated to Saint Peter
. The church was refurbished in 1863. It was the first church on the island to be lit by electricity in 1897 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee
of Queen Victoria
and was supplied by the Isle of Man Tramways and Power Company.
St Anthony's Roman Catholic Church is located on Ridgeway Road. Onchan Methodist Church, part of the Douglas and Peel circuit is on Main Road. Onchan Baptist Church is on Whitebridge road.
Onchan is home to two football
clubs, both of whom compete in the Isle of Man Football League
. Douglas High School Old Boys F.C.
(DHSOB FC) are based at the DHSOB Football Ground, Blackberry Lane. Onchan F.C.
are based at Nivison stadium, Onchan Pleasure Park. The stadium was opened in 1952. There is stock car racing
held each week in the summer months in the Pleasure Park organised by the British Stock Car Association
. There is also bowling, tennis and go karting at the park as well as the Onchan Squash and Social Club. The Abbeyland Equestrian Centre is on Scollag Road
King Edward Bay Golf Club is an 18 hole golf course located in an elevated position on the east side of the village off the A11 King Edward Road.
The Raad ny Foillan long distance coastal footpath opened in 1986 runs along the coast in the village.
Onchan Pleasure Park
Onchan Pleasure Park is a leisure park
which has a boating lake
, miniature golf
pitch, tennis courts
and a British Stock Car Association stock car racing
Onchan Village Commissioners purchased farmland after World War II to build new homes and a recreation area with a large park containing a stadium with the first ever banked cycle track which was opened by Reg Harris, World Champion Sprint Cyclist and Britain's Sportsman of the Year, on 19 June, 1951. The park cost £50,000 to build. The stadium is no longer used for cycling.
Within the boundaries of the village are three glens including two the seventeen National Manx Glens
and Molly Quirk's Glen. They meet at the Whitebridge, at the northern edge of the village on the main A2 coast road
. Groudle Glen extends right down to the coast and has been described as one of the most spectacular of all the island's glens. It was developed in the 1890s as a pleasure glen, with trees planted and long winding paths added. A bandstand, swings and various other minor attractions were also added. On the rocky headland, a small inlet had been dammed off to form a deep pool, which became the centre of the small headland zoo which exhibited sea lions and polar bears. To get visitors out to the highland zoo, the glen owners built a miniature railway. Today, the attractions have all but disappeared apart from the Groudle Glen Railway
, which still runs during the summer months operated by a group of local railway enthusiasts, who in the 1980's completely re-built the line after it was closed and ripped up in the early 1960s.
Molly Quirk's Glen
Molly Quirk's Glen was reputedly named after a woman who was murdered in her cottage. TRhe glen covers about five acres. At the far end of the glen the Clypse and Kerrowdhoo reservoirs now have a series of footpaths and ancient tracks for walkers.
Bilaloe Glen was named after a ford at the bottom of Whitebridge Hill.
Onchan wetlands (Curragh Kiondroghad nature reserve)
The Onchan wetlands Curragh Kiondroghad is a one-acre nature reserve
in Onchan village that contains a variety of habitats. The site was donated to the Manx Wildlife Trust in 1988 and is open to the public for viewing and has a footpath which is suitable for wheelchair users.
The site contains curragh (wetlands - willow scrub), broadleaved trees, dub (pond), neutral grassland and embankments of tall grassland. This variety of habitats leads to a diversity of wildlife and plant life. Some of the plants and trees that grow in the wetlands are silver birch, ash, holly, rowan, marsh marigold, yellow flag, reed canary grass, hemlock water-dropwort, woody nightshade and cuckoo flower. Birds recorded on the site are the grey wagtail, goldcrest, woodcock, chiffchaff and hen harrier along with invertebrates and bats. There are also many frogs and spawn in early summer.
Facilities and accommodation
The main shopping areas are The Village Walk, a small shopping arcade
and Avondale Court, both off Avondale Road, Main Road and Port Jack. A house on the Whitebridge Road at one time had its own (private) miniature railway
in its grounds. This was never a public railway. Onchan Community Centre is located off School Road with a community hall, sports hall, games room and committee room.
There are a number of hotels and guesthouses in the village and the Glen Dhoo and Lower Ballacottier campsites. DHSOB FC operate a campsite each year during the annual Isle of Man TT motorcycle racing.
Onchan Silver Band
is a community-based fourth section brass band
. It was founded in 1937.