Appendix [I] Original MERS Proposals
'Year of Railways 1993' proposals published September 1990, Manx Transport Review. Not all of what was originally proposed happened. Much did and happened again this year. That said, the following indicates there is still room for innovation used these ideas over thirty years later.
1.0 1993 Celebrations and MER Development
- 1.1 The following notes and suggestions are submitted for evaluation and consideration. Any or all of the various projects or particulars can be developed more fully if thought to have sufficient potential.
- 1.2 It is suggested that a really major opportunity exists to up grade the Centenary Year of the MER (1993) into a national event possibly on the lines of the 'Isle of Man Year of Railways' or 'Tramways' or 'Vintage Transport' or whatever appropriate title is chosen, using the Manx Electric as the keystone. Such an event would not be aimed primarily at the enthusiast (who would be catered for anyway) but as a substantial pageant with very widespread family appeal.
- 1.3 Unlike some previous celebrations such as the 1979 'Millennium of Tynwald' or the 'Year of Sport' or 'Heritage Year' the bulk of the infrastructure is already in place; further, the fruits of any efforts made or improvements carried out for an MER Centenary would continue to have lasting benefits, long after the event itself is forgotten.
- 1.4 The overall costs, even on the most ambitious scenario, would be a fraction of the sums spent on previous 'years' or events. The MER Centenary plan may be seen as a means to an end and an end in itself. It represents a truly stupendous secular opportunity.
2.0 Historical Background.
- 2.1 Some celebrations have been based on either spurious or opportune foundations. The MER Centenary can justifiably claim an overwhelming historical justification for a major Island event.
- 2.2 The building and opening of the original project possessed considerable technical and historical significance in 1893 as the first narrow gauge electric interurban railway in the British Isles. It represents a milestone in the history of electric traction.
- 2.3 In 1973 and again in 1974, the Isle of Man Railway Company made an effort to mark the 100th anniversaries of the opening of their lines to Peel and Port Erin. In the first instance, the line was already derelict; in the second the threat of closure (which occurred shortly afterwards) hung like a pall over the proceedings.
- 2.4 The original opening of these lines, important as they were to the Island community, did not represent any particularly notable event in transport generally; there was really nothing internationally remarkable about the opening of a 3'-0' gauge steam railway in 1873. The opening of the first section of what became the Manx Electric represented a technological marvel.
- 3.1 A significant number of suggestions and ideas are contained in the draft calendar, relative the 1993 event; others are aimed not only at ensuring the success of the Centenary celebrations but could also be implemented beforehand with advantage. Amongst the major items mentioned in the calendar (Sections 12-15) which demand some explanation at this stage, the following are significant:
4.0 Presentation (see 12.3)
- 4.1 The channel of Government communication to seek approval for a 'year' of something is clear; certain events seem to have been simply inserted in budget proposals and argued out with Treasury. The multi-million pound Millennium might have had its origins in the Tynwald Tearoom, but rapidly acquired a committee of notables of sufficient political clout to steam-roller its way through any financial difficulties.
- 4.2 For the MER Centenary proposals, it is suggested that if approval is forthcoming from the Department of Tourism & Transport, a direct approach should then be at Exco level when the idea has been carefully refined and laid out.
- 4.3 There is a need for considerable urgency, since the timescale is already tight. It took Blackpool Corporation almost five years to set up their own centenary in 1985 and the MER Centenary ought to be an even more memorable presentation with wider general appeal. The appended Calendar is not to be regarded as optimistic if the event is to succeed on the scale intended (see 12.2)
5.0 Centenary Co-ordinator/see 12.4)
- 5.1 As a matter of some priority, the event will need the services of someone with exhaustive knowledge of the MER, its operation and facilities, who has a proven record of competence in planning and execution, capable of negotiating at any level with the tact of a diplomat and the resolution of a Tzar.
- 5.2 It is suggested that the post itself be established initially on a part-time basis, extending to full-time as the workload increases. The Co-ordinator will need some clerical and other assistance, as necessary. The appointment should carry the authority for the Co-ordinator to report direct to the Transport Executive and the Board.
6.0 Visiting Rolling Stock (see 13.9)
- 6.1 The 3'-0' track gauge or its near equivalent is uncommon in light electric traction and was used by the MER, Giant's Causeway, Lisbon (2-117 ), Cagliari and Palma, Majorca. For this reason it is unlikely that the Board would be in Blackpool's position where a list of potential visiting tramcars was involved. since all the tramcars in this case were standard (4'-8'') gauge. The following potential sources can be explored for suitable exhibits (static or operational):
- 6.2 Belfast Museum exhibits include Portstewart Tramway 0-4-0 steam tram
No.2 built by Kitsons, Leeds in 1883. Withdrawn in 1926 and stored for many years prior to being incorporated in the Belfast Museum.
- 6.3 A second steam tram engine from the 36' gauge Portstewart Tramway exists at the Hull Museum. It is suggested either Belfast or Hull may be prepared to loan an exhibit to represent the missing link in the horse, cable and steam tram era (see 15. 21.)
- 6.4 Belfast also has 3'-0' gauge trailer car No.5 from the Portrush & Giant's
Causeway tramway, built 1883. The line closed down in 1949, but is still well-re-membered by Ulster people.
- 6.5 The third and possibly most significant exhibit at Belfast is a 3'-0' gauge electric car, Bessbrook & Newry No.2 built in 1885. This has exceedingly primitive Mather & Platt electrical equipment, although the carbody was acquired second-hand in 1900 from the Dublin and Lucan line. After the abandonment of the Bessbrook line in January 1948, the car was taken to Mather & Platt's factory in Manchester and placed on exhibition. It was later shipped to the Belfast Museum.
- 6.6 Although incapable of operating because of its standard gauge, another invaluable static exhibit would be the Douglas Head Marine Drive Car No.1 of 1896, which is at the Crich Tramway Museum. It was initially preserved by the LRTL Museum Committee (before the formation of the Tramway Museum Society in 1955) and because nowhere could be found to keep it, the car was then presented to the British Transport Collection. Restored, it was put on exhibition at the Clapham Museum, London SW4, until these premises were closed. It then was sent to Crich, where it was mechanically and electrically restored, built its operational life was excessively short, as the fitted gauge dimensions and chilled iron wheel profiles do not run reliably on Crich's trackwork.
- 6.7 Whilst the foregoing rolling stock (with the possible exception of the Giant's Causeway trailer) cannot be expected to operate and are intended to fill the historical gaps in tramway development, it is essential that some visiting tramcars should be able to operate over at least part of the MER. with clearances adjusted as necessary. The following possibilities exist:
- 6.8 Lisbon: Current fleet situation requires clarification, but they may be induced to loan either one of their 1906 convertibles (with Brill 27GE1 trucks, GE.59 25hp motors and K28 controllers) of the 343-362 class, or one of their double-ended single truck saloons. Costs of transportation might be met at least in part if not in full, by sponsorship from Sandeman, the port wine merchants, to whom an approach should be made. Sandeman did cover the costs of bringing Oporto No.9 to Crich but will only involve themselves with things that are directly connected with Portugal and the British Isles and will require the car involved to carry the wording 'Sandeman's Ports, finest in the world'. The use of a Lisbon car on MER track will necessitate changing the wheelsets.
- 6.9 Blackpool: One of the remaining 48-seat open boat cars built by English Electric in 1934-5 has not been in service for some years on account of thin flanges. The cars are also said to be unpopular with platform crews and
motormen in particular, who might actually have to stand up at the controls and who might get wet if it begins to rain. Blackpool Transport may entertain a proposition for the loan of the carbody only with trucks/motors to be provided by the MER (see 14.23).
7.0 'Centenary Cars' (see 12.13).
- 7.1 Whilst the MER's current fleet represents a remarkable fleet of antiques, these are not necessarily appreciated by customers for reasons dealt with later. Further, a demonstrable shift in trade patters means a surplus of open crossbench cars exists, with a shortage of saloons, a situation that might be worsened if a major upturn in traffic occurs, as it ought to do in 1993.
- 7.2 The appeal of an antique car only becomes self-evident when the viewer either already knows what else to compare it with, or is confronted with and obvious and unmistakable contrast between new and old (see 12.13).
- 7.3 It also tends to be overlooked that whilst the MER flourishes as a major component of the tourist industry, it also still has some significant local traffic (see 15.9). This in itself marks the line as very different from the vast bulk of
'preserved' railways or tramways, which possess no useful utility function at all.
All-year traffic of this nature (and a good proportion of tourists) could be better catered for by the use of new one-man-operated saloons providing a high level of
- 7.4 Such cars can be readily engineered to require minimal maintenance, thus allowing resources to be focused on the older stock (see section 8).
- 7.5 In the present context, the appearance of new cars for 1993 would provide not only something that will reliably and economically operate services into the 21st Century, but also would present an outstanding spectacle of a century of development in electric cars.
- 7.6 Given a modest increase in appropriate personnel, there is no real reason why the carbodies could not be produced at Derby Castle Car works at reasonable cost.
- 7.8 Trucks, motors and control equipments will have to be subject to discussion but one source of brand new equipments at reputedly reasonable costs is CKD Tatra, Prague. CKD began in 1852 and has been building tramcars since 1875, producing over 170,000 complete vehicles and over 5,000 of their modern T and K class electric tramcars alone. Their standards of engineering, quality control and spare availability are good; it is also known that they have yearned for years for a chance to supply brand new equipment to the British Isles.
The CKD trucks for their standard Types K2, T3 etc., are broadly simplified versions of the St.Louis B3 for the American PCC and are available to suit normal track gauges of 1,000-1,524mm (3'-3ª,'-5'-0') but there is no obvious difficulty in adoption to 36' gauge for the MER. The standard wheelbase is 1,900mm (74 gm.
Standard Trakce TE032 motors, driving through cardan shafts and spiral bevel gearing of a choice of three ratios of which the MER will need the 1:7.3 final drive.
The associated control package is a design that clearly owes much to Westinghouse
U.S.A. and is a straight copy slightly simplified, of the American PCC type (see
- 7.9 If CKD Tatra is unwilling to modify their truck design and manufacture for even four car sets, it would be quite possible to make trucks locally at reasonable cost.
8.0 Original Rolling Stock
- 8.1 A programme is needed to ensure that all cars in traffic are all too clearly deeply cared for. The generally good standard could be brought to a standard of excellence without undue difficulty. The idea of keeping one particular car from each major class in a genuine exhibition condition would not be difficult; cars Nos 1, 5, 9, 22 and 32 are obvious candidates (see 13.12).
- 8.2 Car No.1 of 1893 could with advantage be retrucked on a pair of Milnes plate frames to provide near-authenticity (see 12.26, 14.15).
- 8.3 The general condition of some crossbench trailer cars is on a par with Car No.6 and a major programme is needed to restore an appropriate number. The seatback stops have severely worn over the years and the angle at which the seat-back rests is not what the designer intended and nor is it much fun to sit on.
- 8.4 A programme dating back to 1967 began a useful process of fitting Dunlopillo seat cushions to a number of MER cars. For various reasons it was never completed. In view of the demand for comfort, it is suggested that as a matter of priority all of the remaining saloon cars and all (except No.5 already dealt with) of the Snaefell cars be so equipped. Trials ought to be carried out to equip some of the crossbench cars, notably 32, 33, 16, 25-26 with Dunlopillo seat cushions, taped to the wooden seats and covered with waterproof 'Ambla' or similar.
- 8.5 The Winter saloon trailers. Nos 57-58 and Royal Saloon 59 should be considered for fitting curtains.
- 8.6 The increasing traffic and private charter work and organised tour parties could, in many instances, benefit from say two sets of public address equipment, which should in any case be incorporated into any new construction (see 15.15, 15.19).
- 8.7 The advancing age groups of many of the line's passengers should be borne in mind and step and platform heights lowered wherever possible. The 1899 Winter saloons were retrucked in 1904 with the present Brill 27Cx types, which meant that the cars stood 6' higher than when they were fitted with their original Milnes trucks.It would be possible to lose 5' of this extra height by replacing the bolster assembly with an adapted EMB type, which also features a rubber-in-compression pivot pan assembly. This would make a very serious reduction in noise and vibration possible.
- 8.8 Overall platform heights will remain a problem for some with restricted movement. It is suggested that consideration be given to the provision of suitable portable steps to be kept available at Douglas, Laxey and Ramsey.
- 8.9 At present, the rolling stock (and motors in particular) are suffering from various manifestations of weak points in the infrastructure. Bad truck riding knocks hell out of the trackwork: bad trackwork knocks hell out of the trucks and equipment and causes carbody problems. Poor line voltage conditions allied to defective track bonding must have a serious effect on traction motors. There may become a need for someone with a substantial and specialised knowledge of permanent way practice to take charge. The money that is saved by conversion to carbon slipper trolley heads could go some considerable way towards the purchase of miniature Una track bonds. In general, conditions are relatively good, but with suitable effort, weak points could be eliminated and a standard of excellence produced (see 12.25).
- 8.10 Illuminated Tramcar: Almost every tramway undertaking had at some time an illuminated car; the cost would not be enormous and the overall effect would be quite staggering. It could also participate in opportune events, such as Laxey Fair
- (15.27, 15.35)
9.0 Concept and practice
- 9.1 The Centenary presents a point in time where the entire infrastructure of the MER is tuned to concert pitch, but there exists a series of areas where improvement might with advantage be made as soon as possible.
- 9.2 For the greater part of its history the MER satisfactorily catered for resident and tourist alike. However, many visitors in times past were 'repeat' customers, taking a Manx holiday year by year and often even in the same week of the year and were therefore familiar with the services and ideas of operation. For many reasons this classic visitor has diminished in the past ten years and there are now some areas where relatively minor changes could satisfy the contemporary and future markets to a greater extent.
- 9.3 The leisure rider demands a very high standard of spoon-feeding and despite the extensive advertising and commendable timetables and information leaflets, many still arrive at Derby Castle (and presumably elsewhere) with no clear idea of where the line goes to or how long it might take or how much it costs. Platform crews and others do their best to answer queries often about schedules and finally offer a copy of the timetable, only to be told by the enquirer that they've already got one'.
- 9.4 There is a need to display information as to where and when the car is going and even how to buy tickets and how to board.
- 9.5 Snaefell Last daily departure could be advertised.
- 9.6 Not only does the leisure rider and his family demand a comprehensive information system but they also require a high standard of comfort, quite irrespective of the real antiquity of the vehicle - which they are often totally unaware of (see 8.3-4. 9. 16).
- 9.7 The range of extended 'Rover' type tickets is now so broad that those on offer tend to cause confusion in the minds of prospective customers.
- 9.8 Intervalidity: The Island's integrated transport system ought to be able to offer an interchange facility between the MER and the parallel bus services, whereby MER tickets are valid on the buses and possibly vice versa with a supplement.
Ideally a passenger wishing to travel to Jurby from Derby Castle should be able to do so on just one ticket.
- 9.9 To a relatively large number of customers, the time necessary for a trip to any point is important. Although these are indicated in the timetables, it would probably help if single or round-trip time allowances could be exhibited.
- 9.10 For reasons unclear, the novitiate leisure rider often seems to become disorientated at Laxey and will sometimes wait in quite the wrong place for a tramcar in the wrong direction. Despite the provision of 'Cars leave here for Douglas' signs, there is a need for a specific 'Q Here' sign to cover the departure points for the cars to Douglas, Ramsey and Snaefell.
- 9.11 A good case could be made for the acquisition and erection of a cast-iron vintage tram shelter, appropriately sited on the southbound track.
- 9.12 The times of the departures from Laxey (and possibly Ramsey) ought to be indicated by a clock face, similar to the one in constant use at the Derby Castle terminal and whose fingers are adjusted to show the time of the next car.
- 9.13 For very many years the cars themselves used to carry destination signs, although these have long since fallen into disuse. Seasoned MER travellers know very well where any given car is going to, but there are now many, unfamiliar with the Line, who do not (see 9.2). It is suggested that all the cars on the Douglas-Ramsey line and its short workings, be equipped with enamel destination plates, displayed appropriately from the nearside front dash of the motor car and the nearside of trailer cars.
- 9.14 The provision of other, incidental signs is regarded as at least desirable.
These would include an indication at the summit of the line at Ballaragh top, i.e.
'Summit - 588ft Above Sea Level' possibly with an outline of Blackpool Tower and an MER car sailing 38ft above it. A further suggestion was made many years ago for the provision of elevation boards at say 250ft intervals along the Snaefell line.
- 9.15 Lineside attractions: In the old days the paper handbills gave the passenger a significant idea of what to find to do along the line. It may be useful to initiate a new series,
particularly for Groudle and even Laxey Wheel. Indeed there would be much in favour of a reprint of a series of old MER coloured posters, which not only advertised the railway, but also the places served (see 12.10, 13.1, 14.4).
- 9.16 To inculcate some notion of the line's geography the use of 'Car cards' is suggested. These would show a line diagram in a way not dissimilar to L.T. format, save that they should also show elevation as well and include some detail of lineside facilities and attractions and an outline of the particular car's history and equipment.
- 9.17 There is a need to ensure that all staff in direct contact with the customer (actual or potential) be motivated to meet the somewhat exacting requirements of dealing patiently and helpfully with questions and to exude a positiveness towards securing custom. In general the MER has always been markedly fortunate in its staff. However, it only needs one person to destroy the work of the rest and there is an element of sheer tragedy in dialogue examples such as:
'How long does it take?' - 'Depends on how far you go.'
'When does it go to Douglas?' - 'When I give it the say-so.'
'When was it bult?' _ 'Cummon geroff the cah, we've got to move.'
- 9.18 Customers must be made to feel that their patronage is actively solicited and appreciated. It is essential that special parties, particularly those allied to transport interest, such as 'Inside Track* be given an appropriate reception.
- 9.19 There is great and lasting anger when, after an enjoyable trip on the MER, the onward connections from Derby Castle into Douglas town centre are demonstrably seen to fail. The rapidly diminishing utility of the horse tram-way, which went to some considerable way to starving the MER to death at the end of the 1989 season, is currently outside the orbit of the DoT&T and the sight of an empty horse tram setting off just as an MER car arrives may continue (see 9.21).
- 9.20 The advertised bus connections, which so often fail, are within the Department's power to rectify. Time and time again the 'connecting bus would go flat out from Port Jack and be well past the Crescent two minutes before it was due to make the connection at Derby Castle. A case could be made for the provision of a special 'Rail Bus*, perhaps using a historic 'Road Services' or D.C.T.D. vehicle.
- Several such vehicles exist on the Island and one could conceivably be repaired in order to meet the exacting requirements of the P.S.V. examiner and used for a summer Promenade-North Quay service.
- 9.21 Fleetwood Day Excursion days - tickets for a special through Ramsey car might be sold aboard the ship and participants bussed up or down the Promenade; once again the horse tramway service is responsible for throttling the MER and those whose time is short do not like to be kept waiting.
- 9.22 It is recommended that the MER mounts an opportune local 'aware-ness' campaign, leading up to and beyond Centenary Year. There should be an
- 'Open Day' at Derby Castle Car works for local and other visitors, even before the Visitor Centre is operational (see 14.14).
- 9.23 Every school child on the Island ought to be given the opportunity to ride on the line, for in the final analysis it is upon the local inhabitants that support for the line's continued operation and opposition to any kind of retrenchment or closure, must depend. The electric tramcar is also said to display many of the fundamental principles of physics and genuinely 'educational* school trips could be attracted, particularly if the scheme is supported by relevant information packs (see 12.18). The MER might be prepared to field a number of speakers for functions, presentations and the like.
- 10.1 OMO
To be implemented quietly and quickly: the 7.30pm and 8.45pm Douglas-Laxey high season evening service could readily be OMO if the car(s) were equipped with trolley catchers or retrievers (see 15.21)
- 10.2 Stops Stopping places on the MER should be so indicated at least by a modest stop sign of suitable sort. These could be produced in the form of an enamelled panel and designed to be suspended from the overhead 'long fitting' at appropriate places (see 9.2,9.15, 9.16).
- 10.3 Uniform - Platform Crews: A return to a traditional uniform is desirable and it is thought that at least one museum has equipped its people with secondhand County Fire Brigade 'No. 1 Tunics' which have an authentic vintage look about them. An optional alternative would be black uniform trousers and the old MER brown dustcoats and a cap.
- 10.4 The Yard Hut at Derby Castle should be equipped with a suitable
'Cordless 'phone' for use by the Yard Foreman. This would allow for much improved communications between the Booking/Head office and the Yard.
11.0 MER CENTENARY - PROPOSED TIMETABLE.
- 11.1 The years leading up to the Centenary celebrations can be summarised as follows:
Approval, planning, invitations, acceptances.
Limited capital projects start.
Capital Projects stepped up
Centenary infrastructure begins to take shape
Publicity Campaign begins.
Major capital projects completed.
Post Centenary Plan begins.
- • 12.1 MERS stages meeting with Transport Executive. The purpose of this meeting is to outline the Society's views concerning the Centenary of the Manx Electric and to express a wish to offer help, assistance and support.
- 12.2 Early agreement is obtained from the Isle of Man Department of Tourism
& Transport that 1993 be designated 'Isle of Man Year of Railways' - or similar title (see 1.2, 4. 1). It is the considered view of the Society that such an undertaking is forthcoming at the earliest possible stage. Only after agreement is reached can official estimates and schedules be prepared and other preparatory work started.
Decisions regarding island celebrations or other promotional campaigns if taken too late, can seriously undermine their ultimate effectiveness. The timescale suggested here is already tight; undue delay could prove disastrous (see 4.3).
12.3 Department of Tourism and Transport begin to prepare estimates for submission to Treasury. Although many of the schemes outlined in this document could in theory, be undertaken within existing budgetary constraints, it is suggested that additional money may be forthcoming from Treasury.
Many of the ideas suggested, might normally be scheduled over a longer period. It is suggested that the sponsorship of a 'Year of Railways' through Keys could result in many of these major capital schemes - such as the rebuilding of Derby Castle works (see 13.4) - being completed sooner rather than later. Emphasis must be on tangible investment rather than superficial promotional 'ideas' (see 12.24).
Schemes such as the Centenary tram (see 7.0) require careful research and costing: the extent of likely sponsorship needs to be carefully explored (see 13.14). The likely man-power requirements need to be thoroughly assessed and costed.
It must be stressed that in any event, the Island's railways, the MER in particular, stand to emerge from the exercise far fitter and capable of long-term service.
'Isle of Man Year of Railways' presents a once only opportunity, providing a worthwhile promotional event, within a framework for wider renewals and investment which will ensure the survival of the lines into the next Century (see 15.8).
- 12.4 Appointment of a Co-ordinator (See 5.0)
It is suggested that a part-time (later becoming full-time) Coordinator be ap-pointed. This appointment should be temporary, lasting until the end of the Centenary celebrations in December 1993 (see 5. 1).
- • 12.6 Co-ordinator to compile mailing list.
- An extensive and comprehensive mailing list should be compiled for the purposes outlined in this document. It should include the names and addresses of all individuals and organisations likely to be of assistance towards the successful implementation of these proposals. To include an international list of media contacts; names of railways /tramway orientated societies and associations worldwide who could be solicited to provide promotional and technical expertise and a source of visitors: engineering companies likely to be able to provide technical assistance and advice; possible sponsors; travel trade organisations including those especially involved in promoting special interest holidays.
- 12.7 Monthly News Releases to begin.
News releases should be distributed on a monthly basis to the above. These should be designed to promote knowledge of the event and pave the way towards future cooperation and involvement.
- 12.8 Negotiations with specialist tour operators begin.
Several specialist transport tour operators already exist both in the UK and abroad.
A Department of Transport package should be put together and promoted amongst these operators. The package should include rail and bus travel, guest speaker, conducted tour of workshops, special train/tram etc. Tour operators should be given the opportunity to incorporate this package into their own accommodation/ travel/booking arrangements, to create a fully inclusive deal to prospective visitors.
It is understood that this idea has already been investigated by D.o.T.&T. management.
- 12.9 Potential clients on these packages must be offered something over and above what would normally be available to them, as regular visitors. They must be given to understand they are to receive several special privileges only available to participants on this official Department of Transport sanctioned tour. Such packages should not be withheld until Centenary Year and should be brought into effect as soon as possible (see 9. 1).
- •2.10 Negotiations with general tour operators begin.
- It is suggested that the Island's Railways in general and 'Isle of Man Year of Rail-ways' in particular, possess universal family appeal. Thus general holiday tour operators such as Wallace Arnold, Smiths, Grand UK, SAGA, Everymann etc., should also be tempted with a specially designed Department of Transport package, for incorporation into existing or proposed Isle of Man holidays. The scope of this package might be extended in these instances to include lineside attractions such as glens, castles, hotels, museums and so on. This might take the form of a sort of vintage Transport Trail* - almost 40 miles of attractions - and the means of getting there. Such a trail could easily provide enough things to do' for a fortnight Or longer - and result in considerable extra patronage for the railways (see 9.15, 13.1. 15.11).
Many former municipal bus operators are now involved in the inclusive tour bust-ness and should likewise be offered special deals to enable them to bring parties from their individual areas. To save on ferry costs, the Department of Transport could possibly arrange to provide the Isle of Man road travel component.
- 12.11 Urgent research should be started into the North American (British Heritage Tours) and Scandinavian (SPIES) tour business, to establish contacts with this potentially lucrative source of visitors (see 14.11, 15.25, 15.28).12.12 Letters of intent distributed to third parties likely to be involved withHeritage Tours) and Scandinavian (SPIES) tour business, to establish contacts with this potentially lucrative source of visitors (see 14.11, 15.25, 15.28).
- 12.12 Letters of intent should be distributed to groups and individuals likely to be involved in the Centenary celebrations. It is envisaged that these would go to engineering companies, suppliers, souvenir manufacturers, government departments, guest house associations, village commissioners etc.
- 12.13 Provisional plans for 'Centenary Cars' unveiled (see 7.0)
As long term survival of the line depends on economic and effective year-round operation, the opportunities offered by the Centenary should be taken to create at least two (and preferably four) 'Centenary Cars*. Unlike those constructed in Black-pool, these should be entirely new, be of modern design and construction, facilitate one-person-operation, offer smooth, speedy and reliable travel in a comfortable, warm environment. They could be relied upon for economic front-line service at all times of the year and be used to build up the public utility function of the MER.
Such cars would in addition provide a useful comparison with existing rolling stock, highlighting and enhancing the historical merit and significance of the older cars (see 7.2).
- 12.14 The MER Society already has detailed plans of a suitable 'Electro-liner' and could undertake to prepare proposals for a range of viable alternatives based on differing financial, man-power or other constraints (see 7.9).
The costs of any 'Centenary Car' scheme, could be offset against longer term savings in maintenance and crewing, plus the additional revenue these cars would undoubtedly provide.
- 12.15 Provisional Plans for Visitors' Centre unveiled (see 9.3).
The Visitors' Centre and shop are now an inseparable component of many successful holiday attractions. Even where the attraction involved is relatively mundane, a display, a.v.presentation and museum are seen as essential in order to 'spoon feed' visitors who expect a high standard of presentation and packaging. Where the technology involved is unique, outside the day-to-day experience of most people and worthy of further explanation, a Visitors' Centre is essential
- 12.16 Such a centre could range from a simple tramcar conversion - featur ing a video screen and rudimentary displays, to a fully fledged museum allied to a re-vamped Derby Castle works. Such a museum could arguably be housed in under-utilised parts of the 'Summerland' complex. Alternatively. Laxey Station could be considered for a large out-of-town centenary display - either permanent or temporary. In Centenary Year, it is envisaged that the Visitors' Centre would feature a 'History of Tramcars' exhibition, making the most of borrowed tramcars.
- 12.17 Co-ordinator to produce a progress report, dealing specifically with responses to invitations, sponsorship, news etc.
On-going assessment should be a feature of the entire profect. It should be incumbent on the Co-ordinator to justify money spent in connection with the celebra-tions, in terms of tangible capital renewals, or effective publicity. The latter should be quantified and judged in terms of likely return in numbers of visitors to the Island.
This initial report should be to suggest the overall viability of the 'Isle of Man Year of Railways' scheme in general and aspects of these proposals in detail. Amendments should be formulated and acted on accordingly.
- 12.18 Educational packages announced (see 9.22, 9.23)
- It is suggested that the educational role of the railway be enhanced by the production of suitable educational packages, aimed at different age-groups, allied to National Curriculum jargon and effective for years 4 to 18. The availability of these packs should be made known and invitations Issued both locally and nationally to ensure that schools and colleges make use of these packages and travel on the railway.
- 12.19 Press Trips begin
- Invitations should already have been issued to selected press representatives, both from the general holiday and transport enthusiast press - UK and abroad. A suitable itinerary - involving introduction to the Island, its railways and the 1993 proposals will have already been circulated and a programme of visits agreed and scheduled for the period leading up to 1993. Such trips would provide useful grounding for additional publicity nearer to the Centenary (see 12.7)
- 12.20 Film producers asked to submit proposals.
It is suggested that an attractive package be contrived, to enable a suitable film producer unrestricted access and facilities to produce a documentary film about the MER. If arrangements could be made for this film to be broadcast regionally. nationally or abroad, so much the better. It is inconceivable that a good experienced producer /director could not be found to produce such a film, especially if offered every co-operation from the Island (see 14.6).
- 12.21 The unit that prepared the excellent 'Train Now Departing...' pro-gramme for BBC Bristol, should be encouraged to produce 'The Tram Now Departing...' (see 15.10)
- 12.22 Approaches should be made to the producers of each of the various
'Roadshow' programmes, with a view to them visiting the Island and the MER in the run up to 1993. (see 15.29, 15.38-39)
- 12.23 Ramsey museum closes.
Space required in Douglas will necessitate the utilisation of the Ramsey car shed for storage of rolling stock. In addition, items presently stored in Ramsey will be needed for restoration and placement in the new Visitors' Centre.
- 12.24 Work begins on the construction of the Visitors' Centre.
- This initial work would include the securing of premises and the preparation of suitable displays and sundry exhibits for display in it.
- 12.25 Work begins on capital projects connected with track, cars, buildings etc. (see 12.3)
Whether 'Year of Railways' takes place or not, capital expenditure on renewals and further development of the line will be required if the trams are to survive into the next century. Adoption of modern techniques will in any case result in long-term savings. These would include the re-equipment of the motor cars with carbon slipper trolley heads, the use of Una track bonds, Thermit welding of rails, experiments with concrete sleepers with modern fastenings, mechanical overhead line ears etc. (see 8.9).
- In any case, prudent rebuilding of existing cars, together with any 'Centenary Cars constructed, would guarantee sufficient rolling stock to see the line through the Centenary and on towards the next century. The exact number of cars so treated would depend largely on budget, time and labour availability.
- 13.13 Santa Specials Operate
The practice of operating Santa Trains - as currently happens at Groudle and the
IMR - should be extended to the MER (see 14.24, 15.42).
- 13.14 Main sponsorship deals signed.
By now, the Co-ordinator should be in a position to report on and conclude any major sponsorship deals which may have been made. These may include a major sponsor for the year in general, or aspects of the celebrations.
- 14.1 Co-ordinator publishes detailed plans.
The Coordinator should now be in a position to publish detailed plans of the proposed Centenary celebrations. Such publication will allow all others connected with the Centenary to dovetail their plans for publicity, timetables, schedules and costings.
- 14.2 Work begins on sponsored Illuminated Tramcar (see 8.10).
It is suggested that the MER should seriously investigate the conversion of an existing crossbench car and trailer into an illuminated tramcar set. This is a prime candidate for sponsorship and the work could even be contracted out as a result.
Once built, the illuminated tramcar would be an attraction in itself, providing joy to young and old alike and generally be used to draw attention to the line. It could operate evening services around Onchan Head from dusk onwards in the summer.
It would be a spectacular addition to the annual Laxey Fair (see 15.27).
Development of the Illuminated Tramcar could be done in conjunction with a re. stored 'ELECTRIC RAILWAY' or 'MER FOR SCENERY' signs at Derby Castle.
- 14.3 Public meeting to outline proposals.
Following the publication of detailed proposals, the Coordinator should arrange a suitable public meeting to ensure on-going public support for the scheme (see 12.17).
- 14.4 Centenary Posters unveiled.
These should be based on historical sources and be designed to appeal to both the enthusiast and the general visitor. These should be distributed to potential display sites and to contacts made during the planning stages and offered for sale to the general public (see 9.15).
- 14.5 Tourism Department Publicity campaign for 1993 proposals finalised.
Traditionally. the Tourism Department publicity machine is contrived relatively late in the year, with guide content and advertising left until late in the preceding sea-son. Forward planning allowed for by an early commitment to 'Isle of Man Year of Railways' wili allow for the early publication and fine tuning of the Department's proposals, to ensure maximum cost effectiveness and results
- 14.6 Filming commences.
It is suggested that an early start be made in making the definitive Centenary film (see 12.20)
- 14.7 Summer Services commence.
Cars to carry full details of the forthcoming Isle of Man Year of Railways'
- 14.8 New Centenary Traditional Uniforms unveiled (see 10.3)
In readiness for the Centenary, suitable platform staff uniforms should be devised.
These ought ideally to be of a traditional style - to be agreed. Alternatively, a return could be made to the popular brown 'dustcoat', along with a pair of black, uniform trousers and a cap. It is conceivable that staff could be issued
with 1940s style sweaters, shirts and ties - to enhance the 'Caught in Time' effect.
- 14.9 Loaned MER crossbench car leaves on permanent loan.
- It is proposed that at least one of the redundant crossbench cars and a suitable trailer be dispatched on permanent loan. This could be in exchange for another tramcar, services rendered or merely as a goodwill gesture. This would allow additional storage space, as well as offering opportunities for on-going publicity, both in the loaned car's final resting place and during the period of its transportation.
- 14.10 Literature to printers.
- It is suggested that all literature connected with the Centenary be dispatched to printers to ensure its readiness for the winter promotional activities.
- 14.11 Travel Trade familiarity trips begin (see 12.8-11).
By now, it should have been established which travel companies are likely to offer the best chances of return in terms of bookings and it is suggested that a series of travel trade familiarity trips be organised, so that as many people involved in booking visitors to the Isle of Man during 1993, know what is on offer and can advise.clients accordingly.
- 14.12 Tram No.2 leaves for UK.
It is suggested that sponsorship for the transportation of Car No.2 (perhaps with a suitable crossbench car) to the UK be sought. This would be intended to put in appearances at major holiday exhibitions already attended by the Tourism Department's standard display stands (see 14.17).
Such stands have previously featured Odin's Raven, plastic Viking Longships and a series of second-hand PSVs. It is suggested that an MER car, allied to an event such as 'Year of Railways' could achieve rather more success than these predecessors.
- 14.13 Illuminated Tramcar unveiled.
- 14.14 Open Day (see 9.22).
It is suggested that the MER indulge in a series of Open Days, aimed primarily at Island residents. All-comers should be invited to view the work which has taken place so far and talk to the organisers.
- 14.15 Car No.1 out of service for repaint and re-trucking (see 8.2, 12.26)
- 14.16 News Releases to the Travel trade.
These should detail the very good reasons why 1993 is the year to visit the Isle of Man.
- 14.17 Tourism Department 1993 Campaign begins.
- This would include the regular travel trade, press and exhibition programme. Plans should have been -made to display MER Car No.2 at the Royal Dublin Show, Earls Court and the Birmingham Exhibition Centre, Furthermore, a programme of visits to regional centres with the Isle of Man ‘Tramshow' could be arranged.
- In addition to the well-targeted travel trade publicity at the shows involved, the transportation of the trams between centres should be an invaluable source of publicity in itself.
- 14.18 Fortnightly meetings with the Coordinator begin (see 12.17).
- 14.19 Last of the borrowed trams arrive.
- 14.20 Rebuilt Queen's Pier loco and carrlage unveiled.
- At one time, it was proposed that Ramsey Commissioners operate the sadly redundant Queen's Pier tramcar around Mooragh Park Lake, given the unsuitability of the pier itself. it is suggested that the Isle of Man Year of Railways' would provide Ramsey with an ideal opportunity to finally put this scheme into operation.
- 14.21 Treasury, to Issue Centenary coins.
- 14.22 Manx Post Office issue Centenary stamps
- 14.23 Secret trials of re-gauged trams completed (see 6.7, 6.8)
The extent to which these trials are kept 'secret' would be up to the discretion of the Co-ordinator.
- 14.24 Santa Specials operate (see 13.13).15.0 1993
15.1 Year of Railways Begins.
- 15.2 Visitors' Centre re-opens featuring new 'History of Electric Tramcars
- Exhibition' (see 6.3).
- It is suggested that the Visitors' Centre be open for the duration of Centenary Year and augmented to include the series of borrowed exhibits - intended to portray the
- 'History of Electric Tramcars'. This should show the MER in context as the pioneering line it once was. Having toured the exhibition, of course visitors have the opportunity to experience the real thing and visit the many new and re-vamped attractions along the line.
- 15.3 Open Day (see 9.22)
- 15.4 Centenary Trams unveiled
These should be heralded as the first all-new tramcars to be built for service in the British Isles since ?????? The help and assistance of the component and equipment suppliers could be enlisted to gain considerable publicity (see 7.8).
- 15.5 It is suggested that the O-M-O Centenary trams enter traffic immedately, on the augmented winter service.
- 15.6 Centenary Tickets available.
It is suggested that a range of 'Centenary Tickets' be made available for the benefit of transport ticket collectors who value such things.
- 15.7 Borrowed trams go on show.
The location of the borrowed tram exhibition would depend on what was successfully obtained on loan and space requirements generally. A display in and around Derby Castle and the Visitors' Centre would provide a very impressive central display. Location of borrowed cars at Laxey or Ramsey could however encourage traffic on the line, as visitors journey to see the displays. A Laxey display area could conceivably take the form of a large marquee.
- 15.8 Negotiations begin to promote the MER and the other Island railways beyond 1993.
'Isle of Man Year of Railways is not intended to be a one-year-wonder. The infra-* structure investment is intended to be tangible and long lasting, to provide a basis for tourism development for many years to come. The momentum of Centenary Year should not be lost and plans should be formulated at an early stage to ensure that it is not.
- 15.9 Centenary Postal Service begins.
It is suggested that a limited postal service (mainly for post cards) be established.
Cards could be stamped to show that they had been carried on the MER Negotiations to regain the postal contract should be started, thus enhancing the utility aspect of the line (see 7.3) and provide additional justification for the Centenary Cars'
- 15.10 The BBC shows 'The Tram Now Departing... see 12.21)
- • 15.11 The first Everymann 'Railroaders' arrive (see 12.10).
'Railroaders' is the name given to participants on a very special family holiday package, operated by Everymann Inclusive Holidays. The package, promoted inter-nationally, allows very special privileges to ticket holders on arrival (see 12.9).
- 15.12 First all-party assessment meeting.
This meeting is designed to provide an early warning of difficulties encountered or envisaged and to ensure remedies are implemented (see 12.17).
- 15.13 Lineside restorations completed
The line should now be in first rate condition to receive visitors from all over the world. (see 13.5).
- 15.14 Snaefell Mountain opens for the season.
- 15.15 Guided Tours begin.
It is suggested that guided tours, using a special P.A. equipped car should be available to holders of special tickets (see 8.6).
- 15.16 Workshop tours commence.
- It is suggested that guided workshop tours allied to the Visitors' Centre be available at certain advertised times throughout the week. These would be in addition to the general 'open-house' facility now possible at Derby Castle (see 13.4).
- 15.17 'Motorman' lessons begin.
For a suitable fee, it is suggested that visitors be permitted to drive tramcars under careful supervision, in much the same way as staff are presently trained. It is anticipated that the availability of these lessons would be an exciting selling point and that prices could be pitched suitably to ensure that supply is not outstripped by demand.
- 15.18 Open Day (see 9.22).
- 15,19 Centenary Groudle Specials begin using restored Car No.1.
it is suggested that Car No. I should operate daily *Centenary Specials' as far as
'Groudle. The car should be manned by a suitably competent crew who could be relied upon to give value for money. They would be suitably attired and would be required to describe the significance of the journey and the scene as it must have been 100 years ago. The P.A. equipped tram could feature suitable sounds, photographs etc, to enhance the experience.
- 15.20 Transport Film Matinees daily at Piazza Cinema.
As part of the attractions, all mariner of transport films could be shown at the Piazza Cinema at times when it is not otherwise being used. Such films are available in great quantity and at relatively little or no cost. They could include specialist archive films, or general interest features designed to appeal to all the family at the discretion of the cinema management. Such titles as 'The Tifield Thunderbolt', *Oh! Mr Porter...'. The Ghost Train', 'Von Ryan's Express' are titles that spring immediately to mind.
- 15.21 Centenary summer and evening services commence.
It is proposed that the evening service be augmented to include guides and operated by one of the O-M-O 'Centenary Cars*. Final departures from Ramsey could be timed to allow the line to be used by passengers desiring a 'real' night out, without the curfew presently imposed (see 10.1).
- 15.22 Weekly Tram Pageant starts.
This would take the form of a procession of cars - suitably bedecked with bunting and flags (see 1.2)
- 15.23 Second all-party assessment meeting (see 12.17).
- 15.24 Bikers discounts during T.T. fortnight.
- It is suggested that discounts be offered during race fortnight, to ensure that as many of the 40,000 or so bikers use the Island's railways at least once.
- 15.25 North American Fortnight.
Designed to coincide with the Tynwald pageantry, with several North American
'Railroader' parties scheduled for arrival during this time. As special lecture should be staged at the museum - or Piazza Cinema - specially aimed at a North American audience (see 12.11)
- 15.26 Tynwald Tram.
Driven by the Governor, containing many local dignitaries taking an official ride on
- 15.27 Centenary Laxey Fair.
Staged by the Fair committee in conjunction with the Centenary Coordinator to ensure a night to remember, Illuminated tramcar to operate specials from Laxey Station (see 14.2).
- 15.28 Continental Fortnight.
To coincide with a cruiser visit (see 12.11)
- 15.29 Granada Reports from Douglas Promenade.
Arranged in advance with the broadcast emanating front Derby Castle (see 12.22).
The aim would be to drum up day excursion and short break business from Granadaland.
- •15.30 North of England Week.
The fruits of special promotions designed to capitalise on the Island's popularity amongst residents of its traditional catchment areas
15.31 Centenary Fortnight
- Two weeks' intense activity during which time the objective is to 'flI* the Island's accommodation.
- 15.32 Vintage vehicles arrive on chartered ferry.
To overcome the understandable reluctance of vintage vehicle owners to visit the Island due to the ferry cost, it is suggested that a decision be taken to charter a ferry, on which special discounted rates will be offered to the owners of vintage vehicles (buses, lorries, bikes, cars, traction engines etc.) to visit the Island for the duration of Centenary fortnight.
- 15.33 Record breaking run Ramsey-Douglas.
It is suggested that a well-rehearsed non-stop run be staged, using car 32, from Ramsey to Douglas. Volunteers would man crossings and the tram carry and onboard celebrity broadcasting commentary to Manx Radio. Event to be covered by regional TV news.
- 15.34 V.I.P.s arrive for Opening Day celebrations.
- 15.35 Firework display from illuminated tram on eve of Centenary.
The illuminated tramcar be used as the basis for an (intentional) firework display from a point to be determined. Could be developed into a sort of Laxey Fair type celebration, with special evening trams.
- 15.36 Opening Day Celebrations.
These would include the closure to traffic if the north end of Douglas Promenade with Derby Castle turned into a sort of fairground/carnival, with trams, vintage vehicles, brass band etc.
- 15.37 Royal Tram
It is suggested that a notable Royal person be given the opportunity to preside over the 'Opening Tram', featuring Car No. 1. The Royal person could be encouraged to drive the tram if possible.
- 15.38 North West Tonight from Derby Castle (see 12.22).
- 15.39 Border Lookaround from Laxey (see 12.22).
- 15.40 Third all-party assessment meeting (see 12.171
- 18,41 Centenary Winter Service
- 15.42 Santa Specials operate
- 15.43 Trams on temporary loan go on show for the last time.
- 16.1 Post Centenary Plan comes into operation.
The Island's Railways are now firmly on the tourism map. The infrastructure of the
- Island's east coast has received a thorough overhaul.
- 'Isle of Man Year of Railways' will result in material and tangible improvements to the fabric of the Island's east coast resorts, destined to serve the Island for many years to come
- .in addition, the MER is now established as a public service lifeline, serving effectively the inhabitants of the north east of the Isle of Man.