The Island has a rich magical heritage, of the conjuring variety. Mike Clague, Secretary of the Magicians of Mann, is researching the history of the club and would be very pleased to hear from anyone who was a member or who has recollections of it prior to the club being suspended in the early 1970s. It was re-formed by Phil Phillips in 1994, initially called the ‘Magic Hands of Mann’ but later renamed as the Magicians of Mann. The club now has a thriving membership who meet monthly at the Columba Club in Douglas. Mike told us “The club was very active in the ‘50s and 60’s, performing for lots of local charities, staging shows at the Enchanted Hall at Laureston Mansion House in Ballaquayle Road and annual magic gala shows at the Villa Marina. The late Gus Alligan (‘The Saucy Sorcerer’) was extremely well known and was a member of The Inner Magic Circle. Other members included Jim Cannell, Dr Pycroft, Alan Gill, Bill Mitchell, Alan Harper, Ray Connor, Jackson Coleman, Percy Cowley (‘Salamander’) and Tom Morley, who housed an amazing library of rare magic books above his shop on North Quay.” Messages for Mike can be left on tel. 878328 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
An article in an American magic magazine about Jackson Coleman and his wife ‘Maritza’ in 1968 described the island as ‘Britain’s Magic Isle.’ Owner of the Enchanted Hall ‘His Excellency’ Dr. ‘Sir’ Alexander Cannon was one of the Island’s more eccentric residents, and papers released in the UK have shown that he was investigated by the MI5 because of his links with and suspected influence on King Edward VIII. He insisted on being called ‘His Excellency’ and ‘Sir’, but both titles were bogus. He was also known as the Yorkshire Yogi. Cannon was a very keen amateur magician, and used his wealth to bring professional magicians from the UK, Ireland and America to the Island to perform at his Enchanted Hall. The stage at the hall was so full of artefacts gathered during his time in the Far East that there was little room for the performers!
The Island currently has two magic clubs. The Young Magicians of Mann is a separate club founded in 1987 after children who attended a Youth Service magic workshop asked if there was a club they could join. Members perform regularly for local charities, and recently entertained at the Erin Arts Centre. This year they have also taken shows to a number of primary schools. To celebrate the silver anniversary of the club, the Youth Service’s Youth Events Committee and the Young Magicians of Mann are staging a special show at the Gaiety Theatre on Friday 14th September. In ‘Magic!’ the young magicians will be supported by local magicians Colin Boardman, Lexi Watterson, Juan Corrin and Chris Burns as well as Represent Dance Company, Joe Hillard and the Viva Girls. Also performing will be Scott Penrose, Vice President of The Magic Circle. ‘Magic!’ is sponsored by Manx Cover (Blackford & Co Insurers) and SMP Partners, and tickets are available from the Welcome Centre, tel. 600555 and www.villagaiety.com . It seems the Island is still a ‘Magic Isle’!
Photo caption - Young Magicians of Mann at the Erin Arts Centre recently (left – right: Philip Morrison, Nathan Hill, Juan Moore, Thomas Clague, Daniel Quayle).