No Government takeover for Douglas Horse Tramway

As the fallout from the decision last night of Douglas Borough Council to axe the horse tram service with immediate effect continues one hope of enthusiasts has been dashed with the Manx Government confirming they currently have no plans to take control of operating the line along the Promenade. Indeed the Department of Infrastructure have even confirmed that they will be pressing ahead with their plans for the reconstruction of the Promenade – just leaving out the installation of tram tracks.

In the immediate aftermath of the announcement by Douglas Borough Council some enthusiasts had mentioned that the possibility existed of the Horse Tramway to come under the auspices of Isle of Man Transport who already successfully run the Manx Electric Railway, Snaefell Mountain Railway and Isle of Man Steam Railway but the Press Release from the Department of Infrastructure – which was very swiftly released after the closure announcement was made – suggests this is a no-goer as well.

Phil Gawne MHK, Infrastructure Minister, said: “The department has a close and positive relationship with Douglas Borough Council and we have been working together on the promenade plans to deliver the best option for the capital and for the Isle of Man in general. Government and local authorities are experiencing severe financial pressures and the council has obviously decided that it cannot ask ratepayers to continue funding the loss-making horse tram service. There are no plans at this stage for the government to take over the running of the horse trams, although I have called a meeting of relevant government departments and agencies to consider the implications of this loss and what, if any, response Government should make.”

Douglas Borough Council have also said that the door is not shut on discussions to retain the tramway with volunteers but they don’t see this as viable either due to the large losses being experienced in recent years.

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11 Responses to No Government takeover for Douglas Horse Tramway

  1. Richard Ernill says:

    Are there not any potential benefactors left living in the I.O.M who could help out with some finance for such a worthwhile project?

    • Paul Mason says:

      Pity really that Albert Gubay just died recently. There was an appeal to businesses to help out but it fell on deaf ears. A wealthy benefactor is the only way, and enough such on the IOM. Its the running costs that are fairly heavy.

  2. Paul Mason says:

    As an ex IOM holidaymaker of the 1970s it is sad to think the horse trams will be no more. The problem with this tramway is that whereas the trams themselves can be put away overnight or out of season the horses need to be maintained 24/7/365 (or 366), fed, stabled and vetted. Plus of course when the trams were running I recall a roadsweeper having to clear their bodily waste, which is a cost.
    The irony is the horse tramway would have closed in the Edwardian era had Dumbells Bank not collapsed, as there was a plan to extend the Manx Electric Railway to Victoria Pier but the funds never materialised.
    A sad day, particularly as the Government have two heritage railways plus Bus Vannin to take care of.

    • Paul Mason says:

      This is a long shot, but it could be an idea. Does the IOM have Mounted Police? If they did that could be a solution of sorts regarding overheads, although there would be fewer available in the summer season. Police horses have to cope with traffic as the tram horses do.Again, it is a long shot.

      • tom says:

        Police Horses are fine bred animals, often demented from Arabs/Thoroughbreds. They are not trained, nor designed for pulling!

  3. Jim Dolan says:

    This has to be reversed for the sake of all Transport lovers .
    I worked as driver in the 70’s taking part in the 100th in 1976 driving number 21 toast rack open car on these and again was driving the same tram for the 125th and only drove again last August 2015.
    I am heart broken at the loss if this wonderful tramway
    Jim Dolan

  4. Very sad feeling about that bad news.
    Does the Douglas Borough Council imagine the effect on tourism?
    Many people from the continent used to visit the I.O.M. to come to see the old railway and tramway systems of the Isle of Man.
    The decision is totally incomprehensible!

    What a shame, what a pity!

    I hope all has not been said and done!

    Regards from Germany

  5. David and Sylvia Thomas says:

    Having visited the IOM last year as foot passengers, we used the horse trams every day of our stay. The atmosphere created by the sound and sight of the horses and trams is quite unique. We feel that the decision to close the route should be reversed, as the horse trams are an integral part of the island’s vintage transport system. We, and several members of our family will be cancelling plans for further holidays in the IOM if the closure is carried out. We feel this decision is very short sighted……sun, sand and sea can be found anywhere in the country as can heritage rail systems. Horse drawn trams however are quite unique and a huge tourist attraction. does the council realise that the only other such system in the world is in Australia (too far for most!) What a disappointment.

  6. Peter Tran says:

    What would the possibility be of extending the electric tramway along the promenade on the route of the horse tramway? That way the there would still be a tram service for residents, holidaymakers and enthusiasts, comparable to the very successful vintage services operating in Blackpool. If the Douglas promenade is to be rebuilt anyway surely it would not be difficult to relay modern track suitable for carrying the current electric trams at the same time.

  7. David Edwards says:

    If I read much more of this twaddle I shall be demented like the horses. What we need to do is see that our concern for the retention of the horse tramway receives world-wide attention so that the Isle of Man is pressured into a U turn. I am not media savvy but there must be those among us who can ensure that this goes viral.

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