No sooner had the 2014 operating season come to an end for the Manx Electric Railway, than some of the more unusual items of resident rolling stock were thrust into the limelight with a series of moves designed to clear out the life-expired Ramsey car shed so that it can be demolished for replacement. A number of shunting moves had taken place before the tramway closed for winter, leaving four stored vehicles needing to be moved out.
Whereas previous transfers between depots have involved the withdrawn trams being towed, sometimes for long distances, on this occasion the services of a low loader were called upon with the trams being moved by road instead to their new home. This exercise took place on Monday 3rd November, less than 24 hours after the last service tram had returned to the depot.
First to move was Trailer 50 which was shunted by Winter Saloon car 22 (which had been stabled at Ramsey shed overnight after being used in service the previous day) before being loaded up onto the waiting transporter unit and taken to Laxey depot. This was followed by Ratchet car 30 – one of the few long-term stored trams which had never previously made a road journey away from its native system – and it too was taken by road to Laxey for continued storage. Next up was the unusual freight car 26, and then finally it was the turn of another withdrawn Ratchet tramcar, 14, to make the trip to Laxey. Having suffered collision damage during its lengthy period of storage this car presented a particularly sad sight when it was brought out into the open air. This final move was the most complex of all as 14 had been robbed of one of its bogies some years ago, and therefore had to be mounted on an accommodation truck to enable it to be dragged outside – leaving Ramsey depot completely empty of trams and waiting to be demolished, well over a century after it first appeared on the tramway scene. A replacement building is expected to be built in due course as part of a major redevelopment of the area, and this will ultimately become a far more secure home to the irreplaceable rolling stock of this unique transport system. Whilst many of the trams which were moved have not operated for more than three decades and there are no plans for this to change within the foreseeable future, at least there is no desire to dispose of any of them and despite the need to empty the Ramsey premises, none have been scrapped or sold off and all have been accommodated undercover which will ensure that their future prospects are not placed in jeopardy.