Archibald Knox was born in the village on 9th April 1864.
He was the son of William and Ann Knox who had come over from Scotland when William secured a job as engineer at the W F Moore sailmaking factory in Tromode.
It is believed that the Knox family lived at No. 40 – however, there is no written evidence for this.
The architect of the village was Ewan Christian – brother-in-law of the factory owner W F Moore. Not just any architect but Christian was to become President of RIBA and designed many famous, churches buildings etc. in UK and on IOM. One of the most famous being the National Portrait Gallery in London.
The Village was actually built for the workers of William F Moore’s sailmakng factory in Tromode (which later became Clucas Cleaners premises). Probably the only such housing scheme for workers on the Isle of Man outside the mining industry, and was much earlier than the famous Lever Brothers village in Port Sunlight for their soap factory, Bournville family village near Birmingham for the workers in the Cadbury’s factory and Saltaire in West Yorkshire built by Titus Salt for the workers of the woollen mills.
Sailmaking was the most difficult of the textile trades and to give some idea of the quantity of the material used, a “nickie” was a Manx type of fishing boat which usually had a big foresail with 200 running yards, 2nd foresail 170 yards, trysail 120 yards and so on up to a total of 7 or 8. The canvas produced at Tromode was normally 24 inches wide. So a lot of stitching.
Knox’s father William came from Scotland in the 1850s and worked for W F Moore as that was the only way one could live in one of the houses in Cronkbourne Village. By 1861 W F Moore employed at least 150 people and the census returns shows William Knox as a Herring Net Machinist so the factory also produced herring nets.
Work was 6 days per week. 6am to 7pm Mon to Fri with 35 mins for breakfast and 45 mins for dinner. Saturday 6am to 5pm. So total work time 68 hours per week and away from family 76 hours per week.
Archibald was born in 1864 and by 1872 the Knox family was complete - William and Ann his wife, Sons Robert (17), William (12), John (10), Archibald (8), Carmichael (5) and daughters Christina (14) and Annie (newly born).
The houses in the village were of several types and the rear terrace, where Knox lived, had 3 types. Although they have been modernized the original plans still exist and the accommodation for at least 7 or 8 people were two up and three down as follows:-
Living room: 10’ 7” X 17’ 5”, Scullery 10’ X 6’ 5”, downstairs Bedroom/Sitting Room 10’ X 10’ 7”. The two bedrooms upstairs were probably equally divided so as to be approximately 8’ 8” X 20’ 7” with one having the stairs coming up from the living room.
Toilets (privies) were not in the dwellings but 4 amenities were situated on what is now the grassed area and one near the village hall.
Strict rules were enforced by the company and everybody was expected to attend church on Sunday.
At the top of the green is the Old School House and this was the centre of village life, had a chapel and gave free education long before it was compulsory to educate children. The chapel was only closed in 1964.
On a standing stone at the other end of the green is an old plaque stating that Archibald Knox was born in Cronkbourne Village.
We are not sure at what date, but the Knox family moved into Douglas and the 1871 census shows all 9 of them living at 20 South Quay where William Knox had set up his engineering company.
If you wish to learn more about Moore’s company or Cronkbourne Village we recommend the book “Industrial Archaeology of the Isle of Man”.
There is also, on the internet, “Mercantile Manxland 1900” which has articles on both Moore’s factory and Knox Engineering as well as other Isle of Man businesses at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Below are photographs showing (a) Cronkbourne Village around the time of Knox's residency (b) The Old School House which was also a chapel for the villagers (c) Modern view of the village (d) The Knox plaque at the bottom of the green,
Cronkbourne Village c1860
The old school house
Modern photograph of village with No. 40 third house from the top
Large piece of slate with bronze Knox plaque