If you visit Port Erin, it is almost impossible to notice Milner’s Tower, which has loomed over the bay for 150 years.
But how much do you know about it and the man in whose honour it was built? If like us it is very little, then Rushen Heritage Trust has just the event for you as they celebrate 150 years of Milner: The Man & The Tower.
A wealthy safe maker, who was hired by, amongst other high societal figures, the Duke of Wellington, William Milner moved to Port Erin will recovering from a serious illness. During his time in the village, he supported the community through great acts of charity with particular care for the local fishermen and impoverished families.
By 1871, the people of Port Erin wanted to do something to say thank you to the great man so began raising funds to build Milner’s Tower in the shape of a key. However, he quickly learned of the plan and when it ran out of money, he paid for the rest of the work himself.
The Man & The Tower
The exhibition tells the story of Milner’s early life in the UK, where he took over the running of his father’ safe making company, the tragedy which acted as the catalyst for his retirement to Port Erin, and the subsequent many good deeds he did while here – and which led to the people of Port Erin erecting the tower in his honour.
Hugh Davidson from Rushen Heritage Trust spoke to Gef about the exhibition that runs all this week and told us a little bit more about the story of William Milner.
While some of the exhibition, including photographs of the tower from 99-year-old WW2 veteran James Fenton, is held in RHT’s HQ on Bridson Street, the main exhibit is in St Catherine’s Church Hall. If you’re wondering, yes Milner and his estate paid for the church too.
The exhibition is open 10am to 4pm until October 31 (Hop-tu-Naa) with free entry at both venues. As well as a massive amount of info into Milner’s life, the exhibition also includes a display of safe fronts and a video showing drone footage and pics of the tower.