Father Christmas is to be the star of the show again on the Douglas Horse Tramway when he plays a flying visit on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th December. An illuminated horse tram will be used on nine return trips per day from the Strathallan terminus and ticket prices are to remain at the same levels as 2011.
There will be departures on both days from Strathallan at 1030, 1110, 1150, 1230, 1310, 1350, 1430, 1510 and 1550. Tickets cost £7.50 for adults and children (although under 2s will travel free when accompanied by a fare paying adult). This price includes return tram travel, refreshments in the Strathallan suite, a visit to Santa’s grotto and a gift. In addition a family ticket at £20 (up to two adults and two children plus one under 2) is available for the first time in 2013. Tickets can purchased now at the Town Hall, Borough Treasurer’s counter, by phone or online at http://events.douglas.gov.im/EventTicket.aspx?Event=Santatrams
Elsewhere on the horse tramway, driver Robert Maddrell, has retired after 33 years with the tramway service. To mark the occasion a reception was hosted by the Mayor, Cllr Carol Malarkey JP, which Mr Maddrell attended along with several of his colleagues. The Mayor took this opportunity to present him with two framed photographs of him in action as a tram driver and a tramways photo album.
In other news the subject of the relaying of the horse tramway tracks has come up again with discussions underway over whether they should be moved to the side of the road and singled for most of the way with passing loops provided. It has suggested by David Cretney, Infrastructure Minister at Tynwald, that the tracks could be moved to the seaward side of the promenade with limited passing loops added to save money on maintenance. There can be little doubt to anyone who has travelled on the trams in recent years that the track is in need of replacement and in the current climate with only a two tram service ever in operation a single track tramway is probably sufficient, it would also be safer for passengers if the tracks were relocated to one side instead of people having to alight in the middle of road. A more intriguing aspect of the plans are that there is a suggestion the tracks should be relaid to a higher standard to allow, in the long term, the Manx Electric Railway to operate closer to Douglas town centre. It is estimated that relaying the tracks – either in their current position or to one side – would cost between £3 million and £5 million. No final decision has yet been made although the plan does have the backing of Douglas Corporation.
It is also being proposed by Douglas Corporation that the stables where the horses who are used on the tramway are relocated to a redeveloped site at Strathallan where the trams are already kept. The condition of the building at Strathallan – which includes a conference suite above the tramcar depot – has been a cause for concern for a number of years and councillors have now given the go-ahead for a feasibility study to be undertaken to see whether the stables and depot could be combined as one. If it proves possible the stables site on Tramways Terrace would be sold to fund the redevelopment work.
All in all it looks like being an interesting few years in the future for the Douglas Horse Tramway.