'A group of volunteers in Laxey are seeking to save part of the island’s engineering history and preserve it as a museum.'

"The Laxey Substation Group wants to secure the future of the village’s former substation and the technology inside which was world-leading in its day.

The former substation was one of several along the Manx Electric Railway and is still complete with brass switch gears, marble control panels and two alien-looking mercury arc rectifier bulbs.

Richard Henthorn, who is part of the group, explained that the rectifier bulbs were used to convert AC current to DC that was used by the MER.

The bulbs reached temperatures of up to 3,000C to heat the mercury and were cooled by an air stream created by wooden propeller fans mounted below the bulbs.

Mr Henthorn said: ’Our group feel we have a unique opportunity to preserve and display this equipment as an example of the island’s industrial and tourism heritage, and recent talks about the project with the Department of Infrastructure have been positive.

’Using safe voltages and LED lighting techniques, we propose to bring the equipment back to life, incorporating an interactive visitor attraction and education experience, explaining how and why the equipment worked.

’The island was at the forefront of transport technology when the railway was built.’

The display will form just part of what the group hopes to create in the former substation.

Mr Henthorn explained the first task is to secure the building and the equipment before they begin to look at how to create the interactive learning display the group wants.

He added: ’To kick start the project we estimate funds of around £15,000 will be required. Some funding has already been offered to develop the project but this is inadequate to create the initial display.’

The work to create the museum would be carried out by a team of unpaid volunteers. To contact the group, email [email protected]. “

Isle of Man Newspapers


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