For several years the condition of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway depot at Strathallan has been a major cause for concern with the building currently cordoned off, although still used for the storage of the trams. Now in order to remedy this, plans have been unveiled for the building to be demolished and rebuilt with a new design that is to closely replicate the original 1902 built building.
The new building is set to “provide a modern environment in which to store and maintain the trams”, with first floor offices and welfare facilities for staff (including permanent way staff who would be moved there from their current depot of which the planning application expires in 2021). The design is said to complement the heritage status of the tramway and also enhance the Douglas Promenade Conservation Area.
Jason Moorhouse MHK, Member with responsibility for Public Transport, said: “The horse trams’ historical and cultural significance play an important role in the life of the promenade, and the layout of the track was given careful consideration during the planning of the new promenade design. The proposed replacement building is intended to ensure the service continues well into the future by providing modern, fit-for-purpose facilities. It also provides the opportunity to construct a new building that will look almost identical to the depot that was built in 1902 and that clearly relates closely to the historic context of the area.”
The new building would accommodate space for 13 horse cars over approximately two thirds of its area. There would also be enhanced passenger facilities (to take the form of an indoor ticket sales area and public washrooms) and space for future development. This could in time become a café of a tea room. Most intriguingly until such a time as this would happen this area will be used to temporarily house five MER cars!
The application will now be considered and it is hoped that if approved work may commence later this summer. A separate planning application has previously been approved for a temporary building on part of the former Summerland complex which would contain space for the trams and a stables for the horses. Presumably this would be used to at least house the horse trams once work gets underway on the new look Strathallan Depot.
After many years of limited investment the past year or so really has seen an upturn in the fortunes of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway – and long may it continue!
* The planning application can be viewed on the Isle of Man Government website.