One of the most distinct landmarks of the south of the island, Milner’s Tower, is to be celebrated next month to mark its 150th anniversary.

The tower was built in 1871 to honour the Sheffield-born world-renowned safe maker William Milner, who made Port Erin his home and is remembered as one of the village’s greatest benefactors, often referred to as the ‘Godfather of Port Erin’.

To mark the occasion, Rushen Heritage Trust are holding a memorial service and an exhibition during October.

Hugh Davidson, RHT Director, said: ‘Milner Tower is one of the most iconic – and most photographed – landmarks in the Isle of Man. It has stood guard over the beautiful Port Erin Bay for 150 years and it is right that we mark this anniversary by paying tribute to the man whose philanthropy the tower was built to recognise.’

The memorial service is at 3pm on Saturday, October 9 in St Catherine’s Church, which itself was funded by Milner’s estate, while the exhibition will run across two venues from Thursday, October 21 until Sunday, October 31. Most of the exhibition will be staged at St Catherine’s Church Hall, with an element on display at Rushen Heritage & Visitor Centre in Bridson Street, Port Erin. Both venues will be open 10am-4pm each day.

Raise a Glass

The 150th anniversary of Milner’s Tower is not the only celebration going on in Port Erin, as the Bay Hotel also celebrates its 140th year. To celebrate that occasion, proprietor and owner of Bushy’s, Martin Brunnschweiler, is launching a special short-run Milner Tower Ale, which will be launched on Friday, October 1.

Martin said: ‘We are honoured to have been asked to produce this unique beer and it’s particularly special for us as my wife, Debbie, is a Port Erin girl and living here we look up towards the tower every day and remember the great man that it commemorates.’

Who Was William Milner?

William Milner suffered from poor health and visited Port Erin for many years, before finally retiring here in 1860. It followed a tragedy, when a young boy was killed during a competition between Milner’s firm and a rival to test each other’s safes.

Hugh added: ‘Milner’s Port Erin home was called The Rest, situated on land opposite the Falcon’s Nest Hotel, and he became a key figure in the village. He built the cottages on St Catherine’s Terrace to house poor fishermen, he built the village’s first major hotel – the Falcon’s Nest – and he was instrumental in the building of the new breakwater, which was completed two years after his death in 1864. It was badly damaged by storms in the years that followed and was finally destroyed in 1884.

‘But Milner did so much more for the people of Port Erin and they in turn commissioned the tower to be built in his honour. He had a fascinating life, and we look forward to welcoming people from all around the Island – and further afield – to the exhibition to learn about the man behind the tower.’

A special plaque will also be unveiled on the exterior wall of Milner Towers, the apartments that now stand on what was the location of his home, The Rest, it will be unveiled by Captain of the Parish Stanley Clucas.

For more details about Milner: The Man & The Tower and the Milner Memorial Service, visit rushenheritage.org or follow Rushen Heritage on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Coordinator John Quirk can be contacted at rushenht@gmail.com or on 464634.

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