THE present 15.37-mile steam railway line from Douglas to Port Erin is the last remaining part of the former 46-mile empire of the Isle of Man Railway Company, formed in 1870. Its first line, from Douglas to Peel, was opened on July 1 1873, to be followed thirteen months later by the inauguration of services from Douglas to Port Erin on August 1 1874.

The Isle of Man Railway Co also intended to build a line north to Ramsey but doubts about the viability of such a route, together with delays, led to the project being taken up by a separate concern, the Manx Northern Railway Co Ltd. In view of Ramsey's importance and the need to link it with the rest of the Island's network, and cognizant of the economic and constructional difficulties, the Government undertook to pay- the interest on some of the MNR share capital and work proceeded. With separate locomotives and stock, the Manx Northern line from St. John's to Ramsey was opened in September 1879, and thenceforth St. John's became something of a frontier check-point between the boundaries of the IMR and the MNR, even to the extent of two separate stations, although from 1881 a through Douglas-Ramsey coach was introduced. The last steam railway line to be built was the branch from St. John's to Foxdale, under a nominally separate undertaking, although worked by the Manx Northern, to serve the rich lead, zinc and silver mines of that district.

Following the opening of the direct electric line between Douglas and Ramsey in 1899, and with the Foxdale mines' dwindling output, the Manx Northern Railway fell on evil times and in 1905 was taken over by the IMR. The Foxdale branch passenger service was suspended in 1942 and never reinstated. Since 1928 the Isle of Man Railway Company had also operated an extensive network of bus services throughout the Island (except in Douglas) under a wholly-owned subsidiary, Isle of Man Road Services Ltd.

The Isle of Man Railway's 3' 0 " gauge network remained remarkably intact, but increasing costs and deficits and a change of management brought about the total closure of all lines at the end of 1965. Throughout 1966 the system lay in limbo but was revived the following year as a result of the Marquis of Ailsa leasing the facilities and reintroducing services. For the ensuing twelve months the railway presented a remarkable spectacle, not least with the efforts made to haul container-traffic from Castletown to Douglas. Rationalisation in 1968 saw the last passenger trains to Peel and Ramsey, and activities thereafter were concentrated on the south line to Port Erin, operated with some financial assistance from the Tourist Board. In 1972 operation reverted to the IMR Co once again until the end of the 1975 season. As a result of the recommendations of the government's adviser "Transmark" (which was a British Rail "consultancy") the steam railway was curtailed in 1975 to operate only between Castletown and Port Erin, with disastrous financial results. The following year it was extended to reach Ballasalla, with marginally better results, but in 1977 the entire route was reopened (after a vociferous campaign by the local steam railway fans) under the gifted management of Mr. A H Stewart and Mr. M G Warhurst. In December 1977 the line and its equipment was nationalised by the Isle of Man Government, and has operated on a more secure basis ever since although much of the lines period charm has disappeared over the years, most notably in and around the once grand Douglas Railway Station.

For the latest news from the Isle of Man Railway please visit the Isle of Man Steam Railway Supporters Association website and Facebook page.

Isle of Man Railway Photo Gallery

IMR No. 15 "Caledonia" is seen moving off shed during 2006. No. 10 "G.H. Wood" is seen arriving at Castletown on Tynwald Day 2009, with a special headboard to celebrate the occasion. No. 8 "Fenella" & No. 10 "G.H. Wood" are seen on a photo run past at Colby during 2005 special events. No. 17 "Vikin…

Locos on Parade

With the retraction of the Isle of Man Railway operation, and cost involved, there was little need to overhaul a number of life-expired engines, with the network being operated by a handful of core locomotives. Consequently several engines remained stored on railway property. To provide an added at…


Initial Isle of Man Railway passenger stock comprised four-wheel carriages, classes A-D. Within a short period the switch to bogie stock was made with the F class. In due course the decision was taken to remove the bodies from the four-wheelers and place two on a on new bogies underframe - a progra…


ABOVE: With a generous motive power to passenger stock ratio, Isle of Man Railway locomotives 8 FENELLA and 10 GH WOOD are captured between Ballabeg & Colby whilst double-heading a Douglas-Port Erin service during Isle of Man Railways 2012 summer enthusiast gathering. [Photo R Dodge ABOVE: After ar…

The Society

Originally formed in 1973, the MANX ELECTRIC RAILWAY SOCIETY is charged with the express purpose of…

Manx Electric Railway

THE pioneer electric tramway between Derby Castle, Douglas and Groudle Glen opened on September 7,…

Snaefell Mountain Railway

The only vehicles that can reach the summit of the island’s highest peak and only mountain are the…

Douglas Tramways

The Douglas Bay Horse & Upper Douglas Cable Tramways.

DHMD Tramway

THE only Standard (4'-8½" 1435mm) tramway in the Island extended for four spectacular miles along t…

Isle of Man Railway

THE present 15.37-mile steam railway line from Douglas to Port Erin is the last remaining part of t…

Buses and Coaches

THE first motor char-a-bancs in the Island were operated by the Manx Electric Railway Co., which us…


The shipping scene in and around the Isle of Man


Air services to and from the Isle of Man

Other Manx Transport

Other Tramways, Railways and Transport Oddities

Contributors' Pages

A page designed for photographic contributions sent to the Manx Electric Railway Society website.

All About The Isle of Man

For quick though superficial reference to many of the aspects of the Island's history generally cov…

Year of Railways 1993

The success of the year in general and many of the events in particular will be no surprise to read…

Useful Addresses

Isle of Man Newpapers Publishing House Peel Road Douglas Isle of Man IM1 5PZ Email [email protected]


Isle of Man Visitor Information Manx Railways & Other Transport Manx Electric Railway Walks (Visit…


The Manx Electric Railway Society welcomes letters and emails of interest to readers of Manx Transp…


Powered by Quesmedia Sites