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James Cowle - Manx Architect

[] Mr James Cowle, a gentleman involved over many years as government architect. His father was also James. He was born in the Island, trained  as a joiner, became a ship's carpenter and moved to Liverpool, where James Cowle was born. He was born on Tynwald Day 1838. At the age of 13 he came to the Island to reside with his uncle Richard, to be both adopted by him and to become an apprentice joiner with him. Richard Cowle had turned from joiner to builder. He had finished off St. Thomas' Church, built Cronkboume School and chapel and that great, impressive building, Ballamona Lunatic Asylum. Richard died in 1874 leaving James, at the age of 36, to take over one of the largest building firms in Douglas. He, like Robinson, turned to architecture and was producing plans at least from 1876, being responsible for Crogga House, several hotels on the Loch Promenade, shops in Victoria Street, putting the decorative finish to the Victoria Street Methodist Chapel, the unique Swiss Chalet at Glen Helen, St. Paul's Church in Foxdale, the chapel at King William's, St Catherine's Church in PortErin, the Douglas Railway Station, the prison and the Rolls Office. In fact, when this building was being built, on 11th September 1893 he suffered an accident. Coming up the stairs to inspect the building, he missed his footing and fell some 15 feet to the floor below. At that time the building was only under construction; there was no handrail. Fortunately for Mr Cowle, he was of stout build and therefore, whilst shaken and bruised, no bones were broken. He died in August 1901 when preparing to go away to visit an exhibition in Glasgow. His obituary tells us that he was exemplary in his life, honest, straightforward, he had true kindness, never any pretensions, never a sham, a friend of friends and a foe to no man.
Mr President, James Cowle should be remembered today as well as the chamber he designed and I would say, rather like Sir Christopher Wren's tomb in St Paul's, his epitaph should read 'If you would see his memorial, then look around.' Thank you.

Source: Hansard - The Address of Mr P Kelly on the Centenary of the Use of Tynwald Chamber