Railway and Snaefell Mountain Railway
first visit to the Isle of Man was in September 2005, and I loved it.
There is a big page (perhaps too big) on the buses of the island on
this site, and
the electric railway and mountain railway were splendid. Modern Rapid
it isn't, but the end to end journeys are just fantastic, in trams over
years old. The majority of services were operated by the enclosed cars
with crossbench trailers, September being the tail end of the season,
and the weather was not particularly warm.
I am frequently bemused by the antics of the Manx Government and their
attitude towards their heritage transport systems, as surely these are
one of the major selling points of the Island. For the latest madnesses
a good place to look is the Manx
Electric Railway Society who
cover all transport on the island in their excellent magazine.
Nevertheless, I am sure that all the heritage modes will survive: I
hope so, as a return trip is required in
high season, so more of the rolling stock can be seen. A selection of
18th September 2005 was the first full day on the island, and included
a trip to Laxey on the Manx Electric and up Snaefell on the Mountain
Railway. The trip to Laxey from Groudle Glen (after a ride on the
Groudle Glen railway) was on MER trailer 41, a
modern addition to the fleet (actually a 1930 built replacement for a
trailer lost in a fire), behind motor car 20
of 1899 seen here awaiting departure time at Laxey.
is seen as the pair depart Laxey.
Snaefell Mountain Railway is really more of a tramway and Snaefell is
not really a mountain (2036 feet). Even though I am a keen fell walker,
getting to within about 30 feet of the summit by one of the 1895 cars
is much better than tramping to the top. The right hand runing also
seems a bit weird at first. No 4 is seen at Laxey.
no 4 is seen leaving Laxey at the start of it's near half-hour journey
up to the summit. The Snaefell gauge is 3ft 6 ins, whereas the Manx
Electric tracks in the foreground are 3ft gauge. The Snaefell
pantographs are fixed.
side view of car 6 at Laxey. It is a shame that the roof mounted
advertising boards no longer adorn the cars, but the woodwork looks
very nice and seems to be well maintained.
basic Snaefell Mountain Railway schedule is such that every half hour
there are two cars at Laxey for a few minutes, allowing shots such as
this one of cars 1 and 6.
6 is seen leaving Laxey on 18th September.
car 1 took us to the summit, and is seen here alongside the current
Summit Hotel, which is not a particularly distinguished building.
at Laxey, Manx Electric car 2 was seen on the siding. I was very
pleased to see this, one of the original unvestibuled 1893 cars.
Car 4 is seen again, having just crossed the Ramsy road in Laxey
(ungated crossing!) on it's way to the top of Snaefell.
Electric 20 and 41 are seen racing a car near to the crossing at Laxey.
The tram won, of course.
little while later 2 and trailer 37 (dating from 1894) pulled up to the
southbound stop for a return journey to Douglas. Unfortunately our
plans for the day precluded a journey on this beautiful car.
next Douglas bound service was operated by 21 and 40, of the same
vintage as 20 and 41. The motor car is carrying the modern Isle of Man
Transport logo above the number.
next northbound service on the Manx Electric was enclosed saloon 19
(1899) and crossbench trailer 42 (1903, and not in shot here), wiith
Snaefell car 6 arriving at the end of it's downhill run.
19th had a poor weather forecast, so the morning was spent looking
around Douglas, before a trip to Derby Castle on another ancient mode
of transport. Douglas Corporation operates the horse tram service along
the Promenade, in the middle of the busy road. Our journey was on car
37 of 1896 vintage. MOtive power was Robert.
Derby Castle, several horse trams were parked up, including toastrack
40 of 1902 and crossbench 35 of 1896 in addition to 37, seen with the
motive power running round.
at Derby Castle was toastrack 38. The weather on this day was not
the time Manx Electric 21 and 40 appeared for our onward journey to
Ramsey, the weather had turned decidedly wet, and the journey was made
in the enclosed motor car rather than the open-sided trailer.
of Laxey, the journey was delayed by a bull on the line, seen here to
the left of the nearest traction pole. Photo by Steve Mitchell.
run-round at Ramsey is quite involved, partly because of the use of
traction poles. Having shunted the trailer into a siding, the traction
pole of 21 is again reversed so the car can run past the trailer.
The trailer is rolled by gravity down to the end of the line, as seen
here, as the driver switches the traction pole again prior to running
back to couple up to the trailer.
and 40 are seen awaiting departure from Ramsey, with a
crowd of admiring pigeons. This shot also shows the shutters down on
41 is seen coasting down to the end of the line in Ramset as part of
the run-round procedure.
journey back to Baldrine was on 20, with trailer 41, seen here at
Ramsey with the shutters being rolled up on the trailer, the westher
Wednesday 21st September horse tram 32 and Albert were seen departing
from the Douglas end of the route, with the ferry terminal in the
background. It is a shame that the horse trams do not run to the Pier
terminal anymore, rather than terminating in the middle of the main
next journey on the tramway was on Thursday 22nd September, when a
round the island tour included a tram journey from Ramsey to Douglas on
motor car 20, again paired with trailer 41.
the time of our visit the Manx Electric Preservation society was very
exercised (and rightly so) on the use of 1894 built car 7 as a works
car. The only sight we saw of it was on this day, in a permanent way
yard near Dhoon. The photo was taken by Steve
Mitchell through the front door of the moving
tram we were on. This view was enough to show us the deplorable state
the car was in. Is this a good way to treat a 110 year old vehicle?
and 41 are seen at Derby Castle at the end of the journey from Ramsey.
again, reversing into the terminus, the conductor guiding the driver,
prior to leaving for Ramsey.
We then took a ride to Douglas on the horse tram, utilising
35 and Mark.
are seen later passing Isle of Man transport 46.
23rd was not a tram riding day, but an opportunity presented itself to
photograph 5 (an 1894 enclosed saloon) and 41 approaching
Baldrine. Pity about the parked car in the way, though.
the same combination is seen leaving Baldrine.
Some of the tram shelters on the Manx Electric have been replaced in
recent times by modern bus shelters, but that at Baldrine appears to
have been restored and looks good, with perhaps the do not trespass on
the railway notice looking a little out of place.
Glen has a fine tram shelter, complete with some large period posters
on the rear wall.
Derby Castle, very little of the original infrastructure remains. One
bit that does is the ticket office, photographed by Steve Mitchell on
is also a next departure clock at Derby Castle.
24th September was our last on the island, and included a trip from
Derby Castle to Laxey. This trip was with motor car 19 and trailer 44,
another of the 1930 replacements. The shelter on the left of the
picture is a poor replacement for the canopy which stood at Derby
Castle until 1980.
Laxey Snaefell cars 5 and 2 were photographed side by side.
recent act of vandalism was the recent conversion of crossbench trailer
45 (sister to 47 seen below) to a permanent way flat wagon. It is seen
here, in a snatched photo from 47 at Dhoon.
The picture of 45 above was taken during a journey from
Ramsey to Derby Castle with 21 and 47 (1899 vintage). The pair are seen
during the run-round