History and Features of Port Erin
Welcome to Port Erin – Jewel of the South.
You’ll find plenty to enjoy and entertain you in Port Erin. The heart of the village is around Station Road and Church Road, with a range of shops, cafes, bars and activities operating from Shore Road, by the beach.
The village grew up along the shore of our lovely horseshoe-shaped bay which looks out to the Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland past Bradda Head. Don’t miss our sunsets!
The name ‘Port Erin’ may mean Irish Port (or possibly Iron Port or Lord’s Port) and the bay provided shelter and fresh water for fishermen. An early Christian chapel or keeill was built on the shore near a fresh-water spring, both dedicated to St Catherine. St Catherine’s Well still stands at the edge of the beach and nearby Anglican Church continues to carry her name.
The beach is sandy and is bounded by two headlands. On the more northerly Bradda Head stands Milner’s Tower. William Milner owned a famous safe-making firm, settled in Port Erin and was a great benefactor to the poor. The tower was built as a ‘thank you’ in 1871.
On the south side of the bay stood the outer breakwater, now only visible at low tide. It was constructed in 1863 to protect the bay, but severe storms damaged the breakwater and it was never rebuilt.
In 1874 the steam railway came to Port Erin on a route from Douglas via Castletown and Port St Mary. Holidaymakers arriving in Douglas can still use the direct steam train service to reach the family resort of Port Erin. And the red brick railway station is now the hub for bus and steam train services in the village.
The Promenade runs high above the seafront and in Victorian and later times was full of hotels. During World War 2, hotels and guest houses formed the core of an internment camp for ‘enemy aliens’. After the war, the buildings reverted to holiday accommodation, and more recently many have been replaced by private flats and apartments.
Enjoy your visit!