Royal Ramsey – A sleepy fishing town, once great, then sh*t, now ok’ish.
Home to 7,300 people, Ramsey has always been considered as the troubled younger brother to Douglas, or the slightly less druggy cousin of Peel.
This article will look back over three key eras of Ramsey’s history: we will explore the glory days; I shall present a no holds barred look at the dire days and we’ll conclude on a high with the arrival of Costa and crazy paving down the alley ways.
The Glory Years
Before cheap flights to the ‘Med’ were an option, Ramsey was a bustling tourist hot spot-think Malaga crossed with Scarborough. This was due in part to the Queen’s Pier; opened in 1886 it provided the unique opportunity to walk out 200 yards to sea, and then back again. There was also a small tram if you were prepared to ramp the excitement up to dangerous levels.
DID YOU KNOW?
Ramsey is only 19 miles from where the Bee Gee’s were born.
Away from the summer season there was no shortage of community events for the public to support, whether it be the competition to crown Miss Ramsey, with glamorous hopefuls pitted against one another to see who could gut the most herring in 60 seconds, or the annual pig shaving competition, held in Market Square on New Year’s Day, with the gathered hair woven into fancy bonnets for the local children.
As the decades passed and time took its toll on the town’s attractions less people felt the inclination to ‘take a trip’ up north – this had a devastating impact on the many pubs and guest houses and heralded the beginning of Ramsey’s great depression.
The Dark Days
Towards the end of the 20th century Ramsey was in the doldrums – whereas once full with cod and herring the bay was now awash with broken dreams, Sellafield nuclear waste and soiled sanitary towels.
The Grand Island hotel was once the jewel in Ramsey’s crown, with its sweeping lawns flanked with palm trees and opulent function rooms; by the turn of the millennium it looked like it had developed a bad crack habit and only served to host debauched 18th birthday parties and operate as a budget affair venue for philanders that couldn’t afford The Sefton.
Not even TT could revive its ailing fortunes, with bikers opting to sleep rough. In 2007 the hotel that once hosted Hollywood bad boy Micky Rourke as he shot an unforgivably shite film about Shergar, closed its doors for the final time.
This mid-noughties point saw extensive decline in Ramsey, with a number of high street heavyweights throwing in the towel. Amongst the casualties were Misters Menswear (fashions from 5 years previous), Stead and Simpsons (Clunky sling backs) and Miss Clarks (lingerie for depraved 80 year olds). To quote my dear grandmother, ‘Ramsey was in the shit big time’. Little did we know that its savior was waiting in the wings, in the form of a pint sized barista with a manifesto to ‘make Ramsey great again!’.
DID YOU KNOW?
Chips, Cheese & Black is Ramsey’s local delicacy, with the traditional gravy replaced with Guinness.
Thank Christ for Costa
By 2012 Royal Ramsey had slunk into disrepair – it hadn’t been mentioned in the House of Keys since 1996 and was referred to by other Islanders as Andreas South. A once varied and bustling high street it now lay deserted, only for fifty six charity shops and two dozen scented candle/rich person tat stores.
Ramsey really was in need of a hero, they were holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night, and he had to be strong, and he had to be fast and he had to be fresh from the fight. Step forward Gary Dorling. The coffee entrepreneur deemed Ramsey to be the perfect location for his 100th Island outlet. With its arrival townsfolk emerged from their caves, rubbing their eyes, ready to rejoin society.
The ripple effect caused by its opening was unprecedented, before long the court house area was redeveloped; the high street and associated lanes went spotlight paving crazy and new businesses flocked to the town.
Ramsey has continued to go from strength to strength thanks to the Dorling Revolution; a second Costa has opened now in the Mooragh Park, offering full time mummies a choice of where to spend their days. Work is underway to restore the Queen’s Pier thanks to a group of local volunteers and a new skate park has been built to give youngsters somewhere to skate and indulge in recreational drugs use.
Who knows what lies in store for Ramsey, rumours abound that off the back of its recent revival local commissioners are preparing a bid to host the 2022 Basket Weaving Finals, which would bring with it the creation of a 25,000 seater stadium and an extensive Weavers village complex.
We will have to wait and see, but one thing is for sure, Ramsey is a town, on the up.