In Pictures: Douglas Bay Horse Tramway construction update

Seemingly competing with the Blackpool North Railway Station tramway extension for how long can it possibly take to complete, work on the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway has been continuing over the summer months on the Isle of Man with tracks being laid on the final section as far as Broadway. In this latest pictorial update we have a look at the scene in early October on Central Prom and towards the Sea Terminal. Geoff Pickles provides the pictorial side of the article.

Its been a while since we last reported on the situation for the tramway so a reminder of where we are. It has been agreed that the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway will run at least between Derby Castle and Broadway with the tracks running along the centre of the road until the very end of this section when they swing across the Prom road to a temporary terminus. It had been hoped – and there was previously a vote in favour of this – that the tramway would then run on a single track alignment at the side of the road all the way to the Sea Terminal on a new tram corridor. However, there is still no guarantee that this section will be laid with funding seemingly not in place and the understanding is that a further Tynwald vote will be needed (with elections having taken place during September presumably it will be discussed in due course) to give permission for the umpteenth time for the full line to be constructed.

No Douglas Bay Horse Tramway services have run in either 2020 or 2021 bit it is hoped that there will be a return in 2022 – but whether this will be from Derby Castle to Broadway or Derby Castle to the Sea Terminal remains to be seen.

Central Prom and through the fencing we see the tracks as they swing from the centre of the prom to the side. Considering back in August it was suggested all work would be completed by the end of September and we are now in October that has clearly not been the case and it has now been said it will be November for a completion…

The Villa Marina is on the right in the mid-distance with tracks in situ in the foreground. A significant amount of work still seems necessary here.

Central Prom once more with a solitary workman putting the finishing touches to the surface by the southbound track.

The only turnout so far installed near the junction with Broadway.

The “tram corridor” on the right here where we can all but hope will eventually see tram tracks installed all the way through to the Sea Terminal.

Temporary landscaping is due to be put in place on the tram corridor although this is currently just a muddy mess! (All Photographs by Geoff Pickles, 6th October 2021)

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3 Responses to In Pictures: Douglas Bay Horse Tramway construction update

  1. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    Not easy to put a commercial case for completion to the Sea Terminal, I fear. Firstly the Horse Tramway is only really a tourist attraction, with a regular bus service running from near the Sea Terminal to Derby Castle and beyond, which is generally more useful if one needs primarily to get from A to B on a reliable basis, rather than wait upon the vagaries of what often appeared to be a more ad hoc tram schedule. Secondly, a good many visitors routinely disembark in private vehicles from the likes of the Ben-My-Chree – often leading to a mini rush hour – and have no real need of any other means of transport from the Sea Terminal to any intended seafront destination.

    Additionally, for those arriving on foot, given that they are willing to pay the fairly steep prices of accommodation on the Island, I doubt that the expense of hiring a taxi is anything more than merely incidental given the added convenience – and the taxi drivers do have to make a living. I think that when the leisure travellers have reached their accommodation and settled in, a service from Broadway to Derby Castle will be more than enough to satisfy their desire to ride the Horse Tramway. So if anything, the case to be put before Tynwald will in reality prove rather weak, when the bigger picture is taken into account.

  2. David says:

    It seems to me that the original intention when building the horse tramway was to take passengers arriving at the Sea Terminal to their hotels and to provide a connection from the Sea Terminal to the Manx Electric Railway terminus at Derby Castle. Without the part of the tramway to the Sea Terminal it no longer makes sense.
    The redesign of the tramway seems to have been done by a committee. The committee member who saw a golden opportunity to put the horse tramway on reserved track suggested the section from Broadway to the Sea Terminal whereas the member with no sense at all suggested that the track should remain in the middle of the road. What we have got up to now is a dog’s breakfast of tramway where the track needs to cross the carriageway twice resulting in more traffic problems.

  3. nostalgicyetprogressive says:

    It would seem likely that the choice of those wishing to access the MER as to whether they travel the promenade by bus or horse tram, would depend on how much time they perceive they can spare. For those who wish to take it at leisure and are happy to spend some time at the hostelry at Derby Castle in the event of missing a connection, then the idea of enjoying the experience of a ride on the horse tram would matter more than catching a specific MER service. Others with more time restraints would find the greater reliability of the bus schedule better suited to their requirements.

    I don’t know the statistics in this field or indeed whether any survey has ever been conducted, although my perception is, from my own trips to the Island, that in the main those wishing to undertake a trip on the MER would be most likely to get on with the business of connecting at Derby Castle and would consider the horse trams to be more of a stand alone attraction as they would the Steam Railway. In that instance it would matter little whether or not the horse tramway connected with the Sea Terminal. No doubt the original historic intention would have been to connect – but in those days before private car ownership was the norm and with a more frequent tram service along the promenade, such a system would have been able to work well on a commercially viable basis. Today, like it or not, the horse tramway is far closer in concept to a fairground ride than a public transport service.

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