In Pictures: Manx Electric Railway celebrates 130 years of operation

On 7th September 1893 the Manx Electric Railway (or Douglas and Laxey Coast Electric Tramway as it was then) ran its first public services between Derby Castle in Douglas to Groudle. As we know over the years this line was gradually extended north to Laxey and then on to Ramsey and although there have been years of turmoil and threats over its very future it has remained running to allow it to celebrate its 130th anniversary this year. Whilst the main events to celebrate took place during July events week, the Sunday closest to the actual anniversary also saw more celebrations to mark milestone.

Sunday 10th September started off with the traditional parallel run from Derby Castle to Groudle. This saw original motors 1 and 2 depart from Derby Castle at 0840 (with 2 running wrong line) and upon arrival at Groudle (which was as far as trams could go when the system first opened in 1893) they returned to Derby Castle, running separately and both on the correct track.

And what’s better than one parallel run? Two! After both were back at Derby Castle, 2 was coupled up to trailer 51 and formed the 0940 service to Ramsey and was joined as far as Laxey by 1 (this time running wrong line) which carried a party of VIPs including Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man, Sir John Gordon Lorimer. Once at Laxey the party would officially open a special Victoria Fayre and unveil a plaque marking the 130th anniversary of the MER.

The day would see a special timetable operate which saw many additional services from the normal timetable D operate – mostly between Derby Castle and Laxey. Sets which ran on the day were 1, 2+51, 5+54, 6+44, 9+48, 14, 16+49, 20+42 and 32+59, whilst 7 was used for Motorman Taster Lessons between Laxey and Bulgham.

As well as trams in service there was also the chance to see behind the scenes at Laxey Car Sheds with a very informative guide to not only the trams stored there but also the history of car sheds at Laxey. Whilst the Snaefell Car Sheds were also open for tours which afforded the chance to see the continued rebuilds of some of the fleet.

It may not have been a special anniversary on the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway but it was not to be left out from the day as they brought out double decker 18 for a few trips along the shortened tramway.

Although the weather gods didn’t quite realise the importance of the day with a heavy downpour in the afternoon and the threat of storms led to the Snaefell Mountain Railway being suspended in the afternoon, it was still another well organised and enjoyable event on the Isle of Man showcasing the best of what the Manx Electric Railway in particular has to offer.

  • We will have a lot more coverage from both event day and the days leading up to and just after it in a future update of British Trams Online.

2 and 1 operate a parallel run along the Manx Electric Railway. Douglas Bay is in the background as the two cars accelerate past King Edward Bay House.

Ratchet Car 14 was the first special in operation on the day and operated several trips between Derby Castle and Laxey. Ahead of its first departure we see it here at Derby Castle.

Inside Laxey Car Sheds during one of the tours with wire car 52 in the centre. Crossbench 25 is on the left and Works Trailer 26 on the right. The tram partly seen on the right is Crossbench 33 which is being used by the wire team this year.

6 operated throughout the day with a special headboard for Alan Corlett and is seen here stabled in the Groudle siding at Derby Castle as 16 performs a shunt alongside.

Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 18 approaches Derby Castle with a special service on the tramway. Torrin provides horse power.

Trailer 59 partnered with Crossbench 32 after arrival at Derby Castle. (All Photographs by Gareth Prior, 10th September 2023)

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