Sir William Percy Cowley Memorial in Cregneash, Isle of Man

Sir William Percy Cowley Memorial Stone

On the southeastern tip of the Isle of Man is a memorial stone dedicated to one of the island’s greatest conservationists. Sir William Percy Cowley was instrumental in the formation of the Manx National Trust and helped the Isle of Man gain more autonomy from the United Kingdom through constitutional reform through his work as a High Baliff and Deemster, as well as his work as Chairman of the War Consultative Committee. 

A plaque on the side of the memorial reads as follows: “TO THE MEMORY OF THE DEEMSTER SIR PERCY COWLEY Kt. CBE., JP 1886 – 1958 A PATRIOTIC MANXMAN HIS INITIATIVE IN THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MANX NATIONAL TRUST MADE POSSIBLE THE PRESERVATION OF THE PLACES OF NATURAL BEAUTY AS PART OF OUR NATIONAL HERITAGE.

Underneath that inscription there is a quote from the poet T.E. Brown, who was also from the Isle of Man. It reads, “To unlock the treasures of the island heart / With loving feet to trace each hill and glen / And find the ore that is not for the mart / Of commerce: this is all I ask.”

Cowley was born in 1886 and was educated at Ramsey Grammar School in the northeast of the island. He worked as High Baliff of Ramsey and Peel in 1924 and later was an Executive Director of the Manx National Health Insurance Society. Between 1931 and 1957 he was Grand Master Provincial Freemason.

During World War II, Cowley was appointed the Chairman of the War Consultative Committee. The work of this committee contributed to the U.K.’s war effort but also enabled politicians to advise the Lieutenant Governor on problems facing the island, so that funding could be allocated in the right areas to ensure the future of the Isle of Man. One massive piece of contribution from William Percy Cowley was his work in negotiating the sale of Ronaldsway Airport to the Isle of Man after the end of the war in 1947.

Cowley was honored with a CBE in 1945 for his all work for the people of the Isle of Man and for his contribution in the U.K.’s fight in WWII. His final act was the formation of the Manx National Trust in 1950, a Charitable Trust that exists to protect, conserve, and celebrate the Isle of Man’s unique natural and cultural heritage. Cowley died at the age of 71 in 1958.

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