For some time, it has been known that there would be a big event taking place on the Isle of Man to celebrate 125 years of the Manx Electric Railway. Full details of what is planned are now available, with extensive information of all the events happening on the MER, with a few extra events involving the other trams on the island, between 1st and 8th September – and it looks set to be spectacular!
Without further ado, here is a summary of what visitors to the Isle can expect during the week of celebrations.
Saturday 1st September – Morning parallel run from Derby Castle to Groudle using original cars 1 & 2, setting off at 0900.Timetabled service operated by the oldest and newest trams in the operational fleet; cars 1, 2, 32 & 33. Motorman Taster Lessons with a chance to drive winter saloon 22 between Laxey and Lewaigue for just £25.
Sunday 2nd September – 125th birthday party at Laxey Station featuring live music, fairground rides, vintage vehicles and a special guest appearance from Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 1 plus horse! There will be photo opportunities featuring ‘three 1s’ – MER 1, Douglas Bay Horse Tramway 1 and Snaefell 1, at various times throughout the day, as well as guided tours of Laxey sheds. A special Travelling Post Office service will run, and the day will conclude with an evening talk on the history of the MER by Andrew Scarffe at Laxey Working Men’s Institute (doors open 1930 for 2000 start).
Monday 3rd September – Special service from Derby Castle at 0920 with Tunnel car 6 hauling recently restored wagons 8 & 10. Launch of restored ‘Ratchet’ car 14 at Derby Castle at 0900 followed by a ceremonial first run, with the tram operating Groudle shuttles for the public during the afternoon. Evening parallel run with cars 1 & 2 over the entire system, departing from Ramsey at 1800.
Tuesday 4th September – Morning service departure with car 33 and TWO trailers, from Derby Castle at 0900 and running to Dhoon Quarry and back. Mail tram re-enactment departing from Ramsey at 1350, collecting from lineside post boxes and featuring photo opportunities en route. Crossbench Photography Evening with static photo lineups, and parallel runs featuring different combinations of trams (enclosed cars may substitute if the weather is inclement).
Thursday 6th September – Trams operating to a timetable from 1975, plus good wagons being demonstrated with timetabled service trams.
Friday 7th September – Plaque unveiling at 1000 at Derby Castle. Cavalcade of all serviceable MER trams and trailers in numerical order, starting at 1400 from Laxey station heading for Douglas. An intensive service will then operate using all available trams, and concluding with illuminated tram and trailer set 9 & 58 in service from Derby Castle at 1910.
Saturday 8th September – Goods tram photography special, with car 19 hauling mail van 4 and open wagon 10, from Derby Castle at 0920. Unusual tram and trailer combinations in passenger service during the day. ‘Colourful Combination’ photography special using 21 & 51 from Derby Castle at 1320. Evening horse tram cavalcade starting after the end of service on the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway circa 1830.
Naturally all of the above is subject to change and vehicle availability cannot be guaranteed. However, it would be fair to say that a pretty spectacular week is on the cards! Everyone involved in putting these events together deserves immense credit, and hopefully they will all be well supported. Best of all, most of the costs associated with the events concern investment in the MER fleet, so the vehicles and the railway will benefit for years to come, long after the events, which is certainly to be applauded. This means that we have a bright future for the system and its unique rolling stock for many years to come, as well as a fantastic anniversary week – now that really is something to celebrate!