Event Review: MER goes back to its beginnings and 1975

Days five and six of the 125th Anniversary events saw the Manx Electric Railway look back with Wednesday 5th seeing Groudle shuttle with the original trams 1 and 2 (plus 3!) in action whilst Thursday 6th it was back to 1975. Read on for a full review.

Wednesday 5th September

When the Manx Electric Railway first opened in 1893 it only ran between Derby Castle and Groudle and it was that fact which was celebrated on the fifth day of events with the return of the Groudle shuttles. Running from the Groudle siding at Derby Castle the two remaining original trams – 1 and 2 (Guinness World Record holders no less) – were used on this service every half hour for most of the day. And if that wasn’t enough long lost classmate 3 also made an appearance. Now, of course, 3 was destroyed in the Laxey Car Shed fire of 1930 but as often happens at special events on the MER, the tram’s ghost returned and ran several trips to Groudle and back. In reality it was actually 1 with the number 3 applied over its number.

Groudle Station was also reopened for the day with a Station Master on duty once again and the Ramsey Philatelic Service were on hand to sell the special MER stamps including commemorative covers for the day.

The day also saw two special trips with Crossbench 32 taking Wagons 8 and 10 and Van 16 for a full system tour whilst in the evening there was more Crossbench fun with 14 and 16 heading off. The second tour was delayed by 30 minutes for technical reasons but 14 departed Derby Castle at 1740 with 16 following at 1800. Both cars ran to Ramsey before heading back to Derby Castle, with arrival after dark.

The service on this day was dominated by the Tunnel Car with 5, 6, 7 and 9 all allocated – Winter Saloon 20 being the odd one out (but when five trams are needed and there are only four Tunnel Cars there was always going to be an odd one out!)

Tram Allocations

D1 – 20+57

D2 – 5+44

D3 – 6+46

D4 – 7+56 (c/o 7+48)

D5 – 9+40

Groudle Shuttles – 1, 2

Tram and Three Wagons – 32+Wagon 8+Wagon 10+Van 16

Crossbench Evening Special – 14, 16

Thursday 6th September

Whilst the previous day was 1893 the events moved forward to 1975 with a special timetable in operation. 1975 was the last year that the traditional Manx Electric Railway timetable ran, a timetable which hadn’t been really changed for a number of years. It seems that in 1975 you were either an early riser or enjoyed a nice lie in as the first tram departed Derby Castle at 0700 for Ramsey with the next timetabled departure not until 1000! In reality a special departed Derby Castle at 0900 as with no shed at Ramsey it wasn’t possible for a 1030 departure back to Derby Castle to run. A nice 1975 style commemorative timetable was also available from ticket offices.

The 0700 departure was in the hands of Winter Saloon 20 along with Mail Van 4 with these two running to Ramsey and then back. Second set off from Derby Castle were 32+57 with 2+43+Wagon 10 starting the day off at Laxey (they had been spotted leaving Derby Castle the previous evening).

The 1975 timetable actually only required four car sets to operate but the day saw many other trams in service operating as specials with several swaps of those on service and those running as specials. In addition to the standard Motor and Trailer formation the two wagons and two vans were also included within formations.

Tram Allocations

D1 – 20+Van 4

D2 – 22+60+Van 4

L – 2+43+Wagon 10

R – 32+57

Please note there were several swaps during the day and not all the above remained on the diagram shown

Also in service:

6+42+Wagon 8


19+51(+Van 16)



The evening saw 19, 20, 22 and 33 all run services solo.

* Photos from Wednesday 5th September are available in Gallery 759 and Thursday 6th September in Gallery 760.


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