(All Photo's Copy right: Shrinky)
Set upon the hills near the village Laxey rests a giant. Lady Isabella (named after former Lieutenant Governor Hope's wife) is also known as the Laxey Wheel. It was built in 1854, and is the largest working waterwheel in the world. It was used to pump 250 gallons of water a minute from the Laxey mines, which produced zinc, lead, silver and copper. Up until it's closure in 1929, the mines employed over 600 people. I've yet to take the tour (being slightly claustrophobic, I am suspicious of being dragged underground), but perhaps I might - er, one day.
I love the history to this place. 2,500 years ago the Vikings invaded, settled and left their mark here. The Romans by-passed the isle, and the Celtic culture and language was allowed to flourish. To this day Manx is still spoken and taught in all the local schools. There is even a nursery school (a pre-school kindergarten to our American friends) which the Government sponsors, where the children only converse in Manx. Although it is commendable to preserve this heritage, with a population of under 75,000, I can't help but to question the benefits this might ultimately bring, but it does add to the quaintness of this place.
There is still a strong fishing community, passed from father to son, and generations of families have, and still do, trawl their living from the sea. We are quite famed for our Manx Queenies, crab, and smoked kippers.
I was quickly robbed of a crab bap I bought from the shop in here, I only managed one bite before an unapologetic thug (in the guise of a gull) swooped down to pluck it straight from my hand. When I went back to buy another one, the guy behind the counter said she stalked the place and he was now at a loss as to how to lose her. An orphan, he'd taken pity and semi-adopted her. She's called Megan, and this year he noted she had brought her fledgling along.
Flour is still milled in much the same way as it was in 1860. Sure, certain technological tweaks have been added, machinery installed, but the tradition and methods remain the same. See the flue from the upper window feeding the flour to the tanker?
Having opened this post with the largest working water wheel in the world, perhaps it's only fitting to close with what may well be the smallest transport museum in the world. (Cute, isn't it?)