Details revealed for Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 140th Anniversary

We may still be midway through the Manx Heritage Transport Festival (continuing until Sunday 31st July) but already we are looking forward to the next transport event on the Isle of Man – the 140th Anniversary of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway. The anniversary will be celebrated over the weekend of Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th August and Isle of Man Railways have now revealed the plans to celebrate in style which will include intensive services, trams in the evening and a parade of all trams to round things off.

Saturday 6th August will see the weekend get off to a fine start with the enhanced timetable P in operation seeing trams every 15 minutes during the middle of the day. There will also be guided tours of the stables at 1200 (bookable at Derby Castle) and then for the second time in a week (after a gap of many years) there will be an evening service with trams running every 20 minutes between 1800 and 2100. As well as this there will be a pop-up gift shop open between 1230 and 1600.

The main anniversary day is Sunday 7th August with the highlights being double decker no. 18 in use of the 0900 departure from Derby Castle using two horses, an afternoon enhanced service between 1400 and 1530 with trams every 10 minutes and then a Parade of all operational trams from Derby Castle at 1600. A special commemorative ticket will be available for the parade costing £4 for adults and £2 for children (or £1 with a valid horse tram ticket/Go card.

The full programme for the weekend is:

Saturday 6th August

0900 to 1800: Timetable P with trams every 15 minutes

1200: Guided tours of the stables

1230-1600: Pop-up gift shop open

1800-2100: Evening service every 20 minutes

Sunday 7th August

0900: No.18 departs Derby Castle pulled by two horses

0900-1400: Timetable P

1200: Guided tours of the stables

1230-1600: Pop-up gift shop open

1400-1530: Enhanced service with trams departing every 10 minutes

1600: Parade of all operational trams departs Derby Castle

1800: Last tram departs Derby Castle

It may have been an uncertain few months for the tramway but the 140th anniversary weekend is a fine time to celebrate both the history and future of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway.

* British Trams Online will be providing a mixture of “LIVE” and “DELAYED LIVE” coverage from the Isle of Man between Thursday 4th and Tuesday 9th August including extensive updates from the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway. As always you can find this on our Facebook page at

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5 Responses to Details revealed for Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 140th Anniversary

  1. David Mee says:

    I can wholeheartedly recommend a visit to the 140th Anniversary Celebrations next weekend, having just returned from the Island and experienced the ‘dry run’ of some of the events last weekend. You will not be disappointed.

    Having been a very frequent visitor to the Isle of Man over many years I must admit that a certain level of frustration with the Horse Trams had manifested itself recently and it was obvious that the Douglas Corporation had to a certain extent lost its interest in the operation. Poor frequency of service and use of the same few cars was reflected in poor patronage and a generally ‘down at heel’ atmosphere. However, in the few months that Isle of Man Railways have been in charge all that has been swept away and there is a new atmosphere of progress and development. The frequency of operation is now much improved, with three cars out at certain times, something I have not seen for a very long time. Last year I saw a total of four different cars in operation during the twelve days I was on the Island this year ten, many of which had received cosmetic attention. Most of the trams I saw were well loaded and the company are reporting very healthy figures for the first few months of the season. With news that the current operation is safe for at least another two years there is a very positive vibe which can only bode well for the future.

    The ‘dry run’ events comprised:

    Friday 29th July: All operational cars used on rotation through the day (I noted 1, 12, 27, 29, 36, 42, 43, 45 in use), cars on display outside the depot (including a very dusty car 37 dragged from the back of the shed), Open day at the stables

    Saturday 30th July: Enhanced services with ten minute frequency at times, plus services running into the evening

    Sunday 31st July: First public run of car 18 with two horses, procession of horse trams (comprised 18, 44, 45, 43, 12, 29, 42 and 36)

    These events were a surprise addition to the Heritage Festival itinerary and were very well received by the many people present.

    If you can go next weekend, please do – you will not be disappointed!

  2. Mike Jones says:

    My son and I were lucky enough to travel each way on the first public run of tram 18 on 31st July. This was a fantastic experience, with photographers all along the route. During the transport festival week we travelled on the horse trams many times, and the increased number of passengers compared to previous years was very evident, with many trams being totally full. This was great to see, and we sincerely hope common sense will prevail and this historically significant service will be retained long term on its full route.

    • Ken Walker says:

      It just shows what can be done when the operation is run by people who can be bothered to make it succeed, which certainly has not been the case in recent years.

      • Ken Walker says:

        Just to clarify, by that I most emphatically do NOT mean the staff ‘on the ground’ who I am sure have always done their best and in my experience have been friendly and good ambassadors for the tramway.

  3. Alan Murray-Rust says:

    The Sunday morning trip of Car 18 was well attended, and was notable for being hauled by a pair of trammers, William and Douglas, rather than the usual single horse. Although the programme only advertised a single run, it was made known before the first run that a second round trip would be run, giving the opportunity to both ride and photograph the occasion. Passengers were carried on a first-come, first served basis, with a mix of enthusiasts and locals/visitors jostling for the privilege.
    A third trip was made as advertised as part of the cavalcade at 1600 hours, this time with William as sole motive power. The cavalcade was well occupied, running as a reasonably tight convoy to the Sea Terminal. On the return trip, as cars could not be conveniently lined up at the Sea Terminal, the cavalcade was formed up again outside the Villa Marina from where it ran in convoy back to Derby Castle. Well organised, and an impressive display.

    I have to endorse Ken Walker’s comments about staff on the ground – across all forms of transport including buses – and it clearly stretches well up the ladder, with even the Director of Public Transport helping to shunt horse cars around!

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