Handel Brown was born in April 1875 to Mr. Handel Joseph Brown and Mrs. Ada Brown (nee Drixon) in Crovan's Gate. His father was the largest landowner in the Hawin Dooiey Valley and the local MP for Sodor East, as such Handel enjoyed a rather privileged upbringing. He attended the prestigious Cronk Abbey School between 1880 and 1893, graduating with qualifications in business and politics.
He started his career as his father's assistant, before being elected to the newly created Sodor Island Council as a Liberal representing Crovan's Gate in 1896. His father died in 1901, and Handel inherited the vast properties he owned. His father's now vaccant Sodor East seat was up for election and many members of the Sodor Liberal Association urged him to stand, but Handel considered himself politically inexperienced for Westminster, and opted to continue his local career for a while longer. Soon after the death, he built a large house which he christened "The Rowans" on some undeveloped land he owned near Cros-ny-Curin.
In the early 20th, the future prospects of the Skarloey Railway, a major employer in the valley, looked grim. The copper veins which the railway depended on were running dry and the railway's owners were uninterested in slate as a major business. Handel took great intrest in the developments, and eventually began searching for prospective new owners. When none could be found, to avoid a great economic depression in the valley, Handel decided to take the burden on himself. He purchased the Crovan's Gate Mining Company, and with it the Railway, in 1909. At the time, he was running as Liberal candidate for his father's old parliament seat. His purchase of the Skarloey is credited with earning him the greatest landslide victory in Sudrian electoral history in 1910. He easily won re-election later that year.
Hadel hired a new manager for the Skarloey, Mr. Robert Sam, closed what was left of the copper mines, purchased a new engine from the Hunslet Engine Company, Freddie, to assist the original two and invested heavily in the newly made slate mines. The investments paid off, and the slate mines became profitable, aided by a wartime slate boom. In February 1914, he arranged a meeting between Lord Albert Regaby and Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty. This meeting eventually lead to the formation of the North Western Railway.
In 1920 he married Dorothy Lloyd, the daughter of a business partner of his father, and the following year had a son named Handel Lloyd. In 1922, he gave a speech a parliament, one of the few of his career, supporting the continued independence of the standard gauge North Western Railway, which was involved in a dispute weather it would become part of the future LMS.
In 1924, after years of slowly declining revenues, the slate mines ceased being profitable. While they broke even for few years afterwards, it quickly became apparent that the Skarloey didn't need a third engine. While business sense would dictate he sell the older locomotives, keeping the newer one he purchased in 1910, Handel couldn't bear the idea of selling the lines original locomotives. Eventually, the decision was made for him when Freddie asked to be sold to ensure Skarloey and Rheneas' survival.
Despite all efforts, revenues continued to decline on the Skarloey and funds began to run out. Despite the dire situation, Handel pledge to keep the railway operating until his death, whatever the cost to himself for the sake of his tenants. Fortunately, he was assisted by people who shared his determination. Robert Sam retired in 1936, and was succeeded by his son, Mr. Peter Sam. Assisted by his foreman, David Hugh, and a group of volunteers, they were able to keep the railway operating regularly.
Handel's dedication to preserving the Skarloey earned him endearment of the locals, and he was able to maintain his political seats with relative. During the course of his Westminster career, he became aquainted with Henry Haydn Jones, a fellow Liberal MP and, it would later emerge, a distant cousin of his who was facing similar problems with the Talyllyn Railway in Wales. In 1931, he was part of a group of Liberal MPs who broke off from the main party to form the National Liberals. While some expected a election upset, Handel retained his seat against the Liberal Party candidate with relative ease. In the 1937 New Year Hounors, he was made a Baronet for "Outstanding Public Service". At the same time, he announced he planned to retire from Westminster at the 1940 election, though the outbreak of war in 1939 meant he retained his seat until 1945.
He turned over active administration of his estate to his son in 1936, though he remained committed to ensuring the Skarloey's survival, against his sons better judgement. In 1940, the military forced him to loan them the mines for use as ammunition dumps. The rundown mines were returned to his control in 1947. He retired his seat on the Sodor Island Council in July 1950, his son one it in the ensuring by-election. Sir Handel passed away in The Rowans in November 1950.
While he fulfilled his promise to keep the railway operating, his death resulted resulted in crippling duties being imposed on his estate, almost forcing his son to sell it. Fortunately, the efforts of numerous voulenteers allowed to railway to continue, and in 1960 it posted its first profit in 36 years. The railway continues under the ownership of his grandson.
In 1952, his son purchased two locomotives from the Sodor Aluminum Company, the elder of the two was renamed Sir Handel in his honour.
|Owner of the Skarloey Railway|
Crovan's Gate Mining Company
Sir Handel Lloyd Brown
|Baronet Brown of Cros-ny-Curin|
Sir Handel Lloyd Brown
|Member of Parliament for Sodor East|