Book review: Journey on the Manx Electric Railway

A very comprehensive study of the journey from Derby Castle in Douglas to Ramsey by Manx Electric Railway, stopping to admire the many features along the route including the lovely Glens, towns and villages, plus the other transport gems encountered along the way such as the Douglas Bay Horse Trams, Groudle Glen Railway, Snaefell Mountain Railway, Great Laxey Mines Railway and so on. Featuring a lovely selection of photographs, largely previously unseen, and mainly from the early 1960’s right up to earlier this year.

The author is a very regular visitor to the Island and knows the MER inside out, this is reflected in the depth of knowledge imparted in this very readable book. Fifty pages in and we still have not reached Onchan Head just ½ mile into our travels! The focus is very much on the journey – if you are looking for lots of details about the trams and infrastructure this is not the book for you, although there are lots of snippets of information concerning them as we travel along the line. The depots at Derby Castle and Laxey are covered in detail and so are the Dhoon and Ballajora quarry sites. The book very much places the railway into the context of the geography that it passes through, and there is a wealth of information on the seventy stops and the things you can see and do from those stops. Throw in a bit of history, some nice clear maps and a good selection of photos to complete a a very nice book which certainly takes a different approach to the many previous publications about the railway.

A very welcome addition at the rear of the book is a photo gallery of all the extant trams and trailers, plus a very detailed full fleet list, stops list, gradient profiles, diagram of the new Laxey Station layout, plus comprehensive study of how the fleet developed from 1893 to 1906.

I can think of very little negative to say about this extremely well presented volume. Perhaps it is a little parochial in places. As I have mentioned previously, the author is a regular visitor and he knows most of the railway staff by name, and uses their names throughout the book. He also manages to name check his favourite Guest House and its proprietor! Personally, my biggest problem was the very small font size used for the main text, I could only manage a few pages at a time before my eyes became tired, which was annoying as it is such a good read.

Overall then, an highly recommended publication which certainly brings something new to the table regarding the MER. More than worthy of a place in any MER fans bookcase.

Book by Chris Pulling, published by Train Crazy Publishing, July 2015

Full colour, 300 pages, A5 paperback format.  RRP. £16.95

The book can be purchased direct from the publishers:

Reviewed by David Mee, July 2015

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2 Responses to Book review: Journey on the Manx Electric Railway

  1. David T says:

    This certainly looks like a good book and I shall purchase it when I next call in to the Ramsey book shop. I tried earlier this year to find the two quarry tramways at Dhoon Quarry and Ballajora but the lack of time held me back.

  2. Phil Caine says:

    In all honesty, the book has been well produced and is pleasing to the eye. It’s novel approach to the subject is very refreshing. The maps and previously unpublished 1960s/70s photos are superb and are the book’s most redeeming feature. Unfortunately the quality of the text doesn’t match that of presentation. The narrative is littered by a high number of mistakes and inaccuracies, it would have benefited from deeper subject research and a thorough proof read. Despite the standard of presentation, I found the book to be a disappointment.

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