Review into the Schoolrooms

The former Committee (now the Charity Board following the incorporation of a charitable Company limited by Guarantee) undertook a review to consider the Schoolrooms current use and state of repair, looking at how it could be improved in the short term and in the future, together with the financial implications of its resultant proposals. The fundamental aim is to ensure that the Schoolrooms can maximise the opportunities available in order to generate sufficient income for it to be self-sustaining for the future. The Committee’s review drew the following conclusions:

a.            Importance to the community

The Committee concluded that this building is vitally important to the Patrick community. Since the closure of its School, Public Houses, shop and finally the vicarage last year (which has now been sold), the Schoolrooms is the last non-denominational building in Patrick which brings together the whole community in a cohesive and all inclusive way, including Patrick Church-goers, those who go to other churches, and those who do not go to church at all.

Whilst it does provide a venue for church events (for which the church has agreed should be on a fair market price basis), there are those who use the Schoolrooms simply as a community venue, but in so doing it has the opportunity to enrich and enhance the lives of those within our community e.g. the coffee stop, children’s badminton, a meeting venue for local allotment holders, the local Tai Chi group, weekly youth club, children’s holiday club.

With enhanced facilities (a warm dry building with a hygenic catering style kitchen, and improved toilets and showers) it would allow for increased uses for other local groups, such as Pilates (sadly this group left due to the coldness of the Schoolrooms) and the “University of the Third age” (who left due to the cold and smell of rodents) as well as other income generating lettings

b.           State of Repair

The Schoolrooms are an attractive building of historical interest. The Committee, with the help of a chartered surveyor and a QS, and in consultation with a builder, agreed that the Schoolrooms were not sustainable in their current form. They are expensive to run and the fabric of the building is deteriorating. However, the Committee felt that they had a duty to seek to respect the Schoolrooms’ historic value in its current form, indeed it is likely that any attempt to seek planning permission to change them in any way was likely to result in the original building becoming listed in order to protect it. It should be noted that the Schoolrooms were used as the period school during the filming of “Lassie” on the Island a few years ago.

It was also agreed that the extension had been badly built, being constructed directly onto the old schoolyard stone and rubble wall with no damp-proofing, and it would be more economical to start from scratch with proper foundations and cavity walls. However it was difficult to understand how the Committee could possibly raise the funds to save the Schoolrooms within a village of only a small number of residents, as such an investment would be difficult to justify. Thus the Committee agreed that they needed to look to investigate further ways to maximise their use.

c.            Maximising the opportunities to develop the Schoolrooms for their wider use :

A Recommended future for a financially viable and exciting way forward

The Committee concluded that, in order to justify the significant investment required, we must look beyond preserving this historic building for use by the immediate community or for occasional events, and additionally seek a wider and more effective function for the Schoolrooms.

Given the Schoolrooms’ location adjacent to Knockaloe Moar Farm – the site of the Island’s Internment Camp between 1914-1918, the Committee proposed that the Schoolrooms be developed into an Visitors Centre for the Knockaloe Internment Camp (in addition to its current community use). This is of huge historical interest with the centenary of the first world war being commemorated, and a fitting time to launch a permanent Visitors Centre to provide a central point for visitors both this year and in the future, as well as a venue which the Island’s residents and schools can visit to understand this aspect of the Island’s history and the impact it had upon both Patrick village and the Isle of Man. It will also seek to provide a fitting tribute for the 23,000+ residents of the Camp, and a central point for relatives of those residents to seek information about their relative and the camp 100 years later.

Having investigated this proposal it has become clear that, despite a surprising number of visitors to the Island from Europe to see where their relatives were interned, this incredible story is not fully explored in any detail in any venue on the Island and particularly in Patrick, where the camp was situated. Nor is the history of the camp taught in our local schools.  Therefore, in developing the potential for the building to tell this story in an exciting way, developing educational resources and a website that can be accessed by relatives from Europe, this has the potential to provide a huge amount of “added value” both from an educational and tourist/new visitor related basis as well as telling a story of a period of the Island’s history in an interesting way for Island residents.

Accordingly, the Committee entered discussions with the Department of Education and the Church. Following a protracted process, we have reached agreement in principle to the granting of a 21 year lease to a company limited by guarantee which would be a registered charity set up by the Committee. This would be run by Directors from the local Community with a broad range of experience. The uncertainty over the lease has meant a considerable delay in the project which leaves us with an extremely challenging tight timeline within which to achieve our goals.  The building plans have, however, been drawn up and planning permission now received and we are currently seeking funding to progress development of the Visitors Centre. In the meantime the introductory Website detailing our plans and allowing descendants to start to contact us with regard to our assisting them in accessing further information was launched 100 years to the day from the initial camp opening on 17 November 1914.

This project has been embraced by the community and brought together both new and older residents in that this will tell the story of an incredible village experience, whilst also allowing the Schoolrooms building to still perform its function as the only non-denominational building serving the community of Patrick village as required. 

Photographs showing the current state of repair 

damp on newly painted walls in main hall

electricity box

plumbing. Radiators away from crumbling walls 

ladies toilet showing damp on walls

ladies toilet – this is the only sink

Patrick Schoolrooms Gents Toilet

Patrick Schoolrooms extension – kitchen

Patrick Schoolrooms extension built on boundary stone 

Patrick Schoolrooms extension built on boundary stone 
Rear outbuildings housing boiler etc