Ramsey is the second largest town on the Isle of Man and is the main service centre for the north of the island. At the mouth of the River Sulby it has a sweeping sandy bay which attracted Victorian summer visitors.
The Vikings landed in Ramsey in 1079 and, after the collapse of Viking rule in 1265, it became a strategic location in the power struggle between the English and the Scots for control of the island.
By 1600, Ramsey was an important settlement, with the oldest part of the town with its narrow streets, around the harbour. The well sheltered but tidal harbour is protected by two breakwaters. In the C19th, boats were often able to dock here when winds made docking difficult in Douglas.
The harbour is still busy with fishing boats and pleasure boats and also has a small shipyard.
The Albert Tower overlooking the town was built to commemorate the visit of Prince Albert in 1847. The Royal Yacht anchored in the bay when heavy seas made it impossible to land in Douglas Harbour. Queen Victoria remained on the boat recovering from sea sickness while Prince Albert came ashore. He climbed up the hill, which now bears his name, for views of the town. The tower was built the following year.
Holiday makers began to arrive in the Isle of Man in the 1870s. An area of saltmarsh to the north of the Sulby River was bought by the Ramsey Commissioners in 1881 and developed into a pleasure park to attract visitors. Mooragh Park is still popular with its boating lake, cafes, children’s play area and sporting facilities. Large hotels were built along Mooragh Promenade.
Queen’s Pier was built in 1886 to provide landing at all stages of the tide for steamships bringing visitors to Ramsey. A tramway used to transport building material was used to push passengers luggage by hand. By 1900 a passenger car was added to carry passengers the 2160’ down the pier. By 1969, passenger numbers had dropped and the passenger service stopped. The pier was still open for anglers and holiday makers. The tramway closed in 1981 and the pier in 1990 when it was regarded as unsafe. In 2010, it was recommended that the pier be saved from demolition and in 2017 a lease was signed with the Manx Government to begin restoration work.
The Manx Electric Tramway arrived in Ramsey in 1898 bringing visitors to Ramsey. It still runs in the summer months and its terminus is near the town centre.
Ramsey maintains a thriving town centre with small family run shops. Felton’s Ironmongers on Parliament Square was opened in 1859 and is a wonderfully old fashioned shop which has disappeared from most high streets, but still sells everything.
Parliament Street is the main shopping street.
Away from the main shopping area and harbour, there are many splendid buildings and attractive terraces of C19th housing,