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Laxey (Manx: Laksaa) is a village on the east coast of the Isle of Man. Its name derives from the Old Norse Laxa meaning 'Salmon River'. Its key distinguishing features are its three working vintage railways, having the largest working waterwheel in the world, and being set in a partly wooded valley.

View of the harbour and old part of Laxey
Laxey is located in Isle of Man
Laxey shown within the Isle of Man
Population 1,768 (Isle of Man census 2006[1])
OS grid reference SC434840
• Douglas 7 miles (11 km)
Parish Laxey
Sheading Garff
Crown dependency Isle of Man
Post town ISLE OF MAN
Postcode district IM4
Dialling code 01624
Police Isle of Man
Fire Isle of Man
Ambulance Isle of Man
House of Keys Garff
List of places
Isle of Man
54°13′40″N 4°24′07″W / 54.227778°N 4.401944°W / 54.227778; -4.401944Coordinates: 54°13′40″N 4°24′07″W / 54.227778°N 4.401944°W / 54.227778; -4.401944

The village lies on the A2, the main Douglas to Ramsey road, and on the vintage Manx Electric Railway, and Snaefell Mountain Railway. Laxey Glen is one of the Manx National Glens, with Dhoon Glen being located close by. The Raad ny Foillan long distance coastal footpath, opened in 1986, runs along the coast through the village.


Village historyEdit

Laxey Wheel, September 2015
Beach and promenade at Laxey

In the 19th century, mining for lead and zinc began; it became the largest industry the village has had. Mining in Laxey came to an end in 1929. The village also had a fishing industry.[2]

In the late 1800s the Manx Electric Railway line was built through the village, opening it up to tourists. Various other attractions were built at that time, such as Snaefell Mountain Railway and the Laxey Glen Pleasure Gardens.

Laxey village is now a mainly residential and a tourist area. There are several public gardens, primarily Laxey Glen Gardens. There is also a handweaving mill which sells its own products and many others. The village has five pubs and a microbrewery, The Old Laxey Brewing Company.

The village is built around a wooded glen with a number of steep winding streets and paths leading to the floor of the glen, from where one can walk[3] by the side of Laxey River to its outflow to the sea at the small harbour, and onto the beach and promenade. One can also walk around the cliffs to the north of the beach from opposite the "La Mona Lisa Restaurant". This walk goes over the cairn (kern), from where there are views of Clay Head to the south. A Laxey born & bred person would say, "I'm going over the kern for a walk".[citation needed]

Many of Laxey's buildings were built as mining cottages in the traditional Manx style. To the southeast, above the left bank of the Laxey River, is the Minorca area. Old Laxey is made up of winding streets around the harbour. A newer, late Victorian section, further inland, is the area of shops and services around the railway station.


The Isle of Man census 2006 lists the village population as 1,768, a slight increase from the population of 1,725 in 2001. It is the fourth largest village on the island.[1]


Historically, Laxey was in the parish of Lonan within the sheading of Garff.

Until 2016, Laxey was a village district with its own commissioners. From 1 May 2016, it merged with the parishes of Lonan and Maughold to form the new parish district of Garff, within which it is a ward.

Laxey is also part of the Keys constituency of Garff, whose representation increased in 2016 from one to two members.

Laxey WheelEdit

The Laxey Wheel

Laxey Wheel, also known as Lady Isabella after the wife of The Hon. Charles Hope, then Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, was built in 1854 to pump water from the Laxey mine shafts. Now a tourist attraction, it remains the largest working waterwheel in the world.[citation needed] Designed by Robert Casement, it is 72 feet 6 inches (22.10 m) in diameter and 6 feet (1.83 m) wide. It revolves at about 3 rpm. The mines employed over 600 miners at their peak, producing lead, copper, silver and zinc, until they closed in 1929. The Wheel was owned by Edwin Kneale from 1939 to 1965; he saved it from being dismantled and ran it as a tourist attraction, before passing it on to the Manx nation, with the agreement that it should be kept in perpetual running order for the people of the Isle of Man. In 1965 the Isle of Man Government bought the wheel and the site. Restoration work began, and in 1989 it was put under the control of Manx National Heritage.[4]

Great Laxey Mine Railway re-opened with two small steam engines in September 2004 to carry passengers along the restored route.

Laxey Woollen MillsEdit

The Laxey Woollen Mills were founded by Egbert Rydings, with the support of John Ruskin, in 1881 and were originally water powered.[5] The mills are known for producing Manx tartan which is used to make a variety of items from hats, scarfs and kilt skirts to capes and rugs. The cloth is made of fine Manx Loaghtan wool and woven on traditional-style looms. One loom runs by bicycle power. The mills are now mainly a working shop, but still weave the Manx tartan and other cloth. The Laxey Woollen Mills also contain a busy craft shop, a tearoom, and the Hodgson Loom Gallery, which holds monthly arts and crafts exhibitions.[6]

Laxey HarbourEdit

Laxey Tram Station, Isle of Man
Laxey station with a car of the Snaefell Mountain Railway

The village has a small harbour which was built in the 1850s to service the mining industry. It is now used by leisure craft and inshore fishing vessels.[7]


Laxey Station ~ the cafe and booking office

Laxey lies on the Manx Electric Railway line, a vintage line which runs for 17 miles along the coast, between Douglas and Ramsey. Laxey station is in the north of the village and is also the southern terminus of the Snaefell Mountain Railway which runs for 5 miles between Laxey and the top of Snaefell mountain. Laxey also has a short section of restored mine railway, the Great Laxey Mine Railway, which runs on steam.

Laxey is also on the route of most buses between Douglas and Ramsey.


Laxey had a number of Methodist chapels. Shore Road Primitive Methodist Chapel was built in 1825, and closed in 1870. Glen Road Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was opened in 1850. It closed in 1966. Minorca Primitive Methodist Chapel was opened in 1870 and Sunday School was built in 1898 in land across the road; the chapel closed in 1966 when Glen Road and Minorca combined. In 1970 Minorca's Sunday School building became the new Methodist chapel for Laxey.[8]

Christ Church, the Church of England parish church, was built to a design of Ewan Christian and constructed by the Mining Company at a cost of £950. It was consecrated by the Bishop of Sodor and Man, Lord Auckland, on 27 May 1856.[9]


Laxey School is a primary school located on Quarry Road.


Laxey F.C. who play in the Isle of Man Football League are based at the Laxey Football Ground on Glen Road.

Notable peopleEdit

  • Thomas Grindley (1864 in Laxey – 1929 in Vancouver, British Columbia) was a politician in Alberta, Canada and a municipal councillor in Edmonton. He was educated in Laxey and emigrated to Canada in 1882
  • Mark Cavendish MBE (born 1985 in Laxey) is a British professional road racing cyclist
  • Samantha Barks, (born 1990 in Laxey) actress and singer, born and brought up in Laxey
  • Billy Redmayne (1991 in Laxey – 2016 in Middlesbrough) was a Manx soldier and motorcycle racer. A native of Laxey, he served in the Parachute Regiment and completed three tours in Afghanistan



  1. ^ a b "Isle of Man Census 2006 Summary Results" (PDF). Economic Affairs Division, Isle of Man Treasury. 2006. p. 3. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-28. 
  2. ^ A notable Manx fishing family living in Laxey in 1800s: Robert Lawson lived with his family in "Sea Villa" on the promenade. He converted this property from a cottage into a large house; he then built five houses running parallel with the promenade, about 50 yards back, called "Bay View Terrace", and all still inhabited. One of his sons, Robert Edwin ("Ted") was harbour master in the 1880s. This Lawson family first appeared on the Island around 1580,(documented[where?])in Bride, and in Lonan in the 1600s. They were fishermen/farmers, were later associated with the local mining industry, and were very instrumental in the building and shaping of Lonan and Laxey as we see it today. During the 1700s and 1800s, the Lawsons and their relatives were perhaps one of the largest families in the Laxey area. "Laxey". Isle of Man Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  3. ^ As at 2017, the riverside path is closed as it was partly washed away in a recent flood.
  4. ^ "Laxey Wheel". Isle of Man Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  5. ^ Laxey Woollen Mills history
  6. ^ "Laxey Woollen Mills". Isle of Man Guide. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  7. ^ "Harbours - Laxey". Isle of Man Government. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  8. ^ "Laxey Methodist Chapels". Manx Notebook. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 
  9. ^ "Lonan". Manx Notebook. Retrieved 2008-10-07. 

External linksEdit

  Media related to Laxey at Wikimedia Commons