The Douglas Bay Horse Tramway

The Douglas Bay Horse Tramway is of incalculable historic importance as the only survivor left on the planet of a working Victorian Horse Tramway. As such it is the duty of its custodian the Isle of Man Government to maintain and preserve this priceless asset which dates to 1876. With this in mind Tynwald voted as long ago as 2016 to incorporate the tramway within the redevelopment of the Douglas promenades running the full length of the bay.

The last time a horse tram travelled the full length of the promenade was the 22nd October 2018, over three years ago and when it re-opens the line will be cut back to a point by the war Memorial, roughly half way along the seafront, in the context of Douglas seafront, in the middle of nowhere.

The cutting back of the line has been done unconstitutionally and against the will of the Court of Tynwald and without any approval for such a fundamental variation in the plans.

An inevitable consequence is that this will damage the Island's reputation as a unique vintage transport destination.

A further consequence is that the Manx Electric Railway will lose the artery of passenger supply bringing traffic from the Sea Terminal and beyond, threatening the very survival of the coastal tramway.

Whilst the line has been closed there has been an unhappy catalogue of events which have led a well-respected MHK to conclude reflected "sabotage" and a hidden agenda appears to be in operation in which certain elements have sought to prevent the reconstruction of the horse tramway along the full length of the Promenades and we have now heard that the completion of this project has effectively been stripped of its funding and kicked into the long grass.

If this is permitted to occur future Manx generations will be denied their pride in this charming and timeless asset.

The Manx Electric Railway Society calls upon the MHKs to honour their democratic decision to save the line and to set a clear course for the completion of this wonderful asset. It is simply not good enough for the Minister Mr Crookhall to declare that he is not prepared to ask for funds for this scheme for the next year or so and our democratic guardians should be encouraged to turn on the pressure to execute their decision to re-build the line for the full length of the route.

Manx Electric Railway Society
PO. Box 117
Isle of Man IM99 1JS

Email:[email protected]

Background Information

Originally formed in 1973, the MANX ELECTRIC RAILWAY SOCIETY is charged with the express purpose of protecting and promoting the retention and development of the MER and other Island tramways at a reasonable cost. It successfully campaigned for the reinstatement and re-opening of the Laxey - Ramsey section of the MER during 1975-77.

The Society proposed the 1993 "Year of Railways", a series of events to mark the Centenary of the MER. Initially brushed off by management who had planned "a special tram with some ham sandwiches", the Society persuaded politicians who in turn put pressure on Isle of Man Transport and the opportunity was eventually embraced, producing some 25,000 extra visitors during the year, and inspired a series of follow up events throughout what was left of the 1990s. In 1999, the MER Society vigorously and successfully opposed a new bus service, the 11B, which would have followed the same route as the MER, leaving 5 minutes before every tram and charging bus fares at least half the price. This was seen at the time as the biggest threat to the survival of the railway since the Ramsey line closure in 1975.

Since its formation, the MANX ELECTRIC RAILWAY SOCIETY has continued to offer help, advice and assistance to the railway, and remains as a resolute and constant guardian in an unpredictable and at times hostile world.

The MANX ELECTRIC RAILWAY SOCIETY is the only Island based organisation concerned with all aspects of Island transport and pursues an active and direct interest through its comprehensive and fully illustrated magazine, MANX TRANSPORT REVIEW. This journal deals with road, rail, sea and air transport topics, and is distributed free to members. As well as a roundup of news and comment, the magazine contains special features, historical and technical articles and forms a vital forum for the exchange of views.

In February 2015, the Society officially launched its new website, designed to complement the magazine with historical and political content aimed at promoting interest and retention of the MER, and featuring public and members only pages and online membership to extend further the reach of the Society to a worldwide audience.

The Press Release is available to download HERE


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