It was 7th September 1893 that the Manx Electric Railway opened between Derby Castle and Groudle and exactly 125 years later celebrations to mark the occasion reached their zenith with a stunning Cavalcade of 14 motors, 12 passenger trailers, 2 wagons, 2 vans and a tower wagon the centrepiece of the seventh day of the event.
The day was all centred around the Cavalcade with the morning used to get trams into the correct place to parade through Laxey Station with an intensive service running in the immediate lead-up. This saw trams running every 10-20 minutes from Derby Castle to Laxey from mid-morning with many running only as far as Laxey before going north to Dhoon Quarry where they were marshalled into order.
Included in the Cavalcade were two trailer returnees – Special Saloon 58 was used for the first time since 2015 when it derailed at Laxey showing off a new coat of paint having recently received the original livery of Blue and Ivory, it was partnered with 2. Newly Illuminated trailer 59 was also seen for the first time running with illuminated motor 9 (albeit un-illuminated).
21 – which has been restricted to works duties in recent months and is struggling with a fault – also made its one and only appearance of the week for the Cavalcade. Showing the issues it has currently it only ran from Laxey Car Sheds to opposite the Washing Floors where it was stabled until its slot in the Cavalcade. 21 then returned straight back to the car sheds.
The trams for the Cavalcade started to line-up above the Washing Floors from around 1300 led by 1+51. Shortly after 1400 and the Cavalcade started with 1+51 gently moving forward into Laxey Station. For those assembled in the station a commentary was given on the trams by Charles Guard. Running at approximately a three minute frequency the trams gradually made their way into the station – with the exception of the last set (33+61) they were not in service. Once in the station they were swiftly despatched either to Laxey Car Sheds, into the station siding or down to Derby Castle so that the advertised 15 minute service could run during the afternoon. All too often when Cavalcades take place there is a period of time after the parade where there is a major lull as things get back to normal but thanks to this excellent organisation meant that this time there were no such problems and almost as soon as the last trams had paraded into Laxey the service was back up and running with 32+62+Van 16 off to Ramsey and 19+57 to Derby Castle.
For the record the following ran in the Cavalcade:
7+48+Tower Wagon 1
For the rest of the afternoon the intensive service operated between Derby Castle and Ramsey with all trams involved in the Cavalcade – with the exception of 21 – running at least one further journey. This included a single trip for 14 south from Laxey whilst 1+51 waiting a couple of hours before it returned from the station siding to Derby Castle.
The day’s celebrations weren’t completed there though as into the evening and it was the debut of the illuminated motor and trailer set – 9+58. With the lights switched on for the first time it enabled comparisons to be made between the lights on the two trams showing that those applied to 58 are much brighter than those on 9! The two trams departed Derby Castle at 1912 and went north before returning to Douglas in time to form the 2110 service to Ramsey (and return) bringing a bright end to an incredible day on the MER.
D1 – 22+43+Wagon 10
D2 – 33+61
D3 – 20+56
D4 – 32+62+Van 16
D5 – not operated
D6 – 14
D7 – 1+51
D8 – 2+59
D9 – 5+42+Wagon 8
D10 – 19+57
D11 – 16+60
D12 – 6+40+Van 4
D13 – 9+58
L – 7+48+Tower Wagon 1
Please note: not all journeys operated with Wagons, Vans and Tower Wagon coupled.
Evening service: 5+42, 9+58
Illuminated Tram and Trailer special: 9+58
* Full photographic coverage of this day is available in Gallery 761.