Notes on old Douglas and other themes compiled by John James Frowde (chemist) together with miscellaneous news cuttings

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The contents consist of various notebooks and handwritten notes on Frowde’s research of old Douglas. Douglas topics include the Tower of Refuge, Douglas pubs in the 1870s-1880s and theatre and entertainment halls; further afield he writes about Castle Rushen and the parish of Maughold as well as notes regarding the poetry of J.H Quine, notes from the autobiography of the Revd Hugh Stowell Brown (1823-1886), writings relating to Manx folklore ('Some Curious Manx Ideas') and Manx Museum matters.

Other contents includes writings of Frowde’s memories, for example Yn Chruinnaght Literary (Open) Class 21 entry a 'Description of a Ramble in Man with Natural History Notes', 'Recollections of boyhood days from 1875 to 1888’, 'A Saturday trip to town in the mid-seventies (1870s)’, 'Fashionable Intelligence', 'Christmas Time Memories' and 'The Wreck of the Orion'.

Further material includes incoming and outgoing correspondence with Philip Caine, William Cubbon (1865-1955) and various newspaper editors (such as the editor of the Mona’s Herald). Also included is a list of subject matter photographed in Douglas during summer 1932 and of demolition views during the ensuing winter, additional notes regarding his photography, various unsorted newspaper cuttings and a brown paper bag from the Galen Pharmacy, Windsor Road.

Administrative / Biographical History

John James Frowde (1868-1946), son of John Frowde (c.1812-1873), a tailor and draper and Margaret née Cowley (c.1830-1908) was a prominent chemist and optician in the town of Douglas in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Isle of Man.

In the 1880s a chemist named William Augustus McKown (b.1857) had a business in ‘The Medical Hall’, Victoria Street, Douglas. By 1 December 1883 he had opened a branch at 4 Windsor Road, Douglas. In 1887 McKown sold the Windsor Road branch to chemist and dentist Albert Edward Woodward (1864-1897). Woodward conducted business until 1891 when he sold it to John James Frowde and moved to a pharmacy on Broadway; in 1891 the Windsor Road chemist was known as ‘The Galen Pharmacy’. Frowde conducted his chemist business in Windsor Road for over fifty-four years and by 1929 he had moved from 4 to 1 Windsor Road.

In 1893 Frowde married Amy Fenelon (1872-1954) and the couple had two daughters, Elaine Fenelon Bregazzi (1902-1972) and Enid Marguerite Frowde (1904-1986). Frowde was a committed member of the Victoria Street Methodist Church (Douglas) and a member of Douglas Wesleyan Methodist Mutual Improvement Association. He was a great music lover, a subscriber to the Manx Music Festival and was the organist at Victoria Street Church and St Trinians Masonic Lodge. Frowde died in 1946 aged 77 and he is buried in Douglas Borough Cemetery.

Frowde regularly deposited material in the Manx Museum and he took a deep interest in old Douglas. He had an excellent knowledge of the history of Douglas and created a fine collection of photographs, accompanying them with detailed handwritten captions about the buildings or related anecdotes. He had the foresight to capture the alleyways and streets near North Quay, Douglas prior to and during extensive demolition work 1932-1934. In 1948 many of his photographs were used in the ‘Old Douglas’ exhibition at the Manx Museum in celebration of the museum’s 25th anniversary.

Frowde handed his chemist business to his nephew Bert. Bert Fenelon Hemensley (1898-1980) was the son of Albert Palmer Hemensley (c.1872-1898) and Lena née Fenelon (c.1873-1941). Interestingly Albert Palmer Hemensley was also a chemist and in 1893 he took over the Broadway Pharmacy business of Mr Woodward, before dying prematurely in 1898. Bert later passed the Windsor Road business (now known as Hemensleys Pharmacy) to his son John (c.1926-2006). The business is now run by John's son Ian (b.1972).

Conditions Governing Access

No regulations or restrictions are implemented on this material.

Advance notification of a research visit is advisable by emailing library@mnh.gov.im.

Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from Manx newspapers the Manx Sun (24 March 1883 and 24 November 1883), the Mona’s Herald (2 November 1887, 4 March 1891 and 26 March 1946), the Isle of Man Times (5 March 1887) and the Isle of Man Examiner (21 November 1914, 23 August 1929 and 30 January 1948).

Isle of Man newspapers available online at http://www.newspapers.gov.im/Default/Skins/IOMDemo/Client.asp?skin=IOMDemo&enter=true&AppName=2.

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), August 2016.

Separated Material

Separated material held by Manx National Heritage includes Frowde’s photographs of the town of Douglas. They have been digitised and are available to view at www.imuseum.im (reference number: PG/8224).