The Hut Grounds
A Memory of Port Erin.
Seeing this photograph reminded me of the name by which we used to know this site, namely 'The Hut Grounds'. Nowadays it is mostly referred to as 'Bradda Glen Cafe', but in my childhood it was 'The Hut Grounds'!
In the height of the tourist boom in the late 1950s, through to the late 60s and perhaps just into the 70s, this was a popular destination for visitors to walk to and sit outside at tables sheltered from the sun by large umbrellas over them. Here they could sit and enjoy afternoon tea, or icecreams while their children played in a small playground among the trees. This playground contained a slide, a seesaw and a couple of swings. Not much, but non-the-less, popular with the children.
In the evenings, at least once or twice each week, entertainment was laid on for both the locals and the visitors.
From 1952 to the mid 1960s, 'The Southern Manx Folk Dance Society' under the leadership of Leighton Stowell, entertained fortnightly in The Hut which had a large dance hall very suitable for this event.
My mother, Gladys Archibald and my brother, Roadley, were both members of this society and took part in these events regularly, so I accompanied them and took part in the group dancing myself from the age of 7. Roadley was a solo dancer as well as dancing in the group dances. In particular, he used to perform a dance called 'The Dirk Dance of the Kings of Mann'. This dance dates back to Viking times, and the performer dressed in a costume of a Viking. (Well, as mother made the costume, it was a Viking costume according to her, but was not made of authentic traditional materials. Still it looked good!!)
Later, when my brother left the island to go to college, I took over as Dirk Dancer and performed in The Hut as well as other venues.
In the 1960s, mother joined an 'Old Time and Modern Dance School' run by her friend, Eileen Fitzsimmons. Eileen also ran dance socials at The Hut and later, mum became a qualified teacher herself and took over these socials. I was roped in as doorman.
Like the Folk Dance gatherings, mum's social evenings were very popular as long as she ran them.
Later, in the 1980s the Bradda Glen as it was now more popularly known, was granted a public house licence, and for some years was run as a sort of night club. However, due to its position and drink-driving laws, it lost its popularity. It was run as a restaurant for some years into the 2000s, but is now under threat of being sold off by the Commissioners to a private buyer.
There is some opposition to this, spearheaded by John Maddrell (Manno), so we wait with baited breath to see what happens next.
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