By the TT course, on the fast run into Ramsey, lies Milntown Cottage.

Milntown Cottage is a traditional old Manx cottage. Out back there is a substantial but now ruinous rectangular stone enclosure, about ten yards by fifteen.

The walls are about six foot, higher than is necessary to keep sheep and cattle in, and when it was in use there was one entrance with a sturdy locked door.

This enclosure was the pinfold of the Parish of Lezayre. In times past there was a pinfold in each Parish. We do not know how many others still exist, on the Island or elsewhere.

Any livestock found straying in the Parish was locked in this enclosure. Only the Parish Commissioners and the keeper of the pinfold, who presumably lived in Milntown Cottage, had a key.

The owner had to pay a substantial fine to the Commissioners before his animals were released. Manx farmers referred to this fine as the “ransom”.

There is nothing new under the sun. The same system applies to today’s hard-pressed motorists in the UK. Wrongly parked cars are clamped, or removed to a locked pound, by private contractors, and a substantial “ransom” has to be paid for their release.

The Isle of Man does not have the same problem with traffic congestion and illegal parking. Wheel clamping is illegal, and only the police have the power to remove an illegally parked vehicle.

We don’t call it pinfold any more, but there is still a ransom to be paid!

Chris Thorpe

Chris Thorpe is a respected independent lawyer in the upstream oil and gas industry, and an established lecturer and author. Chris has a LLB in law from Magdalene College, Cambridge and trained as a barrister in London. He worked for eight years' as an in-house lawyer for BP and Marathon. Since 1991, Chris has run his own upstream legal practice, CPTL, which has acted for many upstream clients. He has extensive experience of international upstream transactions, principally in the North Sea, the FSU, Africa and the Middle East. Chris has spoken at many UK and International Conferences and Seminars, both public and in-house. His most popular current lecture is Fundamental of Upstream Petroleum Agreements, a two-day course with accompanying book.