ISLE OF MAN RAILWAYS

[Source: Paul Wright]

1945 - 1965
After the Second World War tourists returned and the railway once again became busy with the visitors travelling around the island. By 1950 the railway was carrying over a million passengers per year. However as with railways on the mainland the spread of the motor car and motor lorry started to have an impact on passenger and freight services.

More buses where brought to the island and by 1956 the railway had stopped running Sunday services to Peel and Ramsey. Winter services were also reduced and by 1959 the railway operated only from 08.30 to 18.30. During the winter of 1960/1 the line from St Johns to Peel remained closed and the following year the entire system was operated during the winter months by only
one engine in steam. Although these cutbacks saved money in terms of staff overtime they also deterred passengers who started to opt for other ways of travelling. In 1961 two diesel railcars were purchased from the County Donegal Railway. After refurbishment they were put to use on the Douglas to Peel line. The IOMR looked at further dieselisation options but failed to make any progress. The opening of a new station at the Curraghs Wildlife Park in 1965 did nothing to stop the decline.

Photo:Douglas Station forecourt in 1975 after closure of the entire network.
Photo by
Jon Sabey-Corkindale

By 1965 the railway was in a very bad state as there had been little investment in infrastructure for years. The permanent way was in dreadful shape and needed urgent repair. On the 13th November 1965 the entire network closed with very little warning. The reason given was that repairs needed to be carried out. No repairs were undertaken and the line remained closed in 1966 apart from the Diesel Railcars being used as a hospital train for the TT Races. St Johns station was actually used as a car park.

Douglas Station during floods in June 1968
Photo by John Waite from Narrow Gauge Heaven web site

THE MARQUIS AILSA ERA
There was much concern about the railways future and the Manx Government set up a transport review. The review recommended the retention of the Douglas to Peel line as a tourist attraction. The Marquis of Ailsa agreed to assist and he took out a 21 year lease on the IOMR routes with an option to suspend services after 5 years if they failed to attract enough business.

On the 3rd June 1967 the network (with the exception of the Foxdale Branch) re-opened. A new green livery was applied to the railways locomotives which became known as Ailsa Green. The new service was aimed at tourists but by 1968 services were once again cut to save costs. The full service ended before the end of the published timetable. The last service on the St Johns to
Ramsey line ran on the 6th September 1968. The last Peel service ran on the 7th September. No one knew it at the time but these two lines would never re-open.

In 1969 the Port Erin Line was operated with support as The Isle of Man Victoria Steam Railway Company Ltd. However in 1971 the Marquis of Ailsa withdrew from the lease. The Port Erin line struggled on with assistance from the Tourist Board and centenary celebrations took place in 1974.

Douglas Station in July 2006
Photo by Paul Wright

£149,000 to Millen Metals of Belfast. The track was lifted during 1974. In 1975 a Tynwald Committee recommended that no further grants be paid to the railway as its closure would not affect tourism. In 1975 a small grant was secured which allowed services to operate only from Castletown to Port Erin. The following year they ran to Ballasalla and by 1977 they were back at Douglas. Douglas Station was much reduced during this era losing one of its island platforms, its goods yard and the station canopies.

Looking towards the north east at Castletown Station in May 2010. Originally the station did not have raised platforms but following a restoration of the buildings in 1994 platforms were added
Photo by Paul Wright

Following the Manx General Election of 1976 the Douglas to Port Erin Line along with the Electric Tramway were nationalised as the Isle of Man Railways. Since that time many improvements have been carried out and the two surviving railway routes on the island are in better shape than they have been for perhaps 50 years. In recent years platforms have been provided at all of the stations on the Port Erin line and facilities much improved.

Terminus station on the Snaefell Mountain Railway in September 2003, now part of the Isle of Man Railways after nationalisation in 1976
Photo by Nick Catford

Thanks for the following people for permission to reproduce their photographs: Jon Sabey-Corkindale, Tim Stevens, John Law, R M Casserley (photos by the late H C Casserley), John Alsop, Geoffrey Skelsey, John Waite & Ron White of Colour-Rail.

A Douglas train arrives at Castletown Station in May 2010. The station
building was fully restored in 1994.
Photo by Paul Wright

Click here for a timetable for the entire network in July 1964

Further reading: Isle of Man Classic Steam by Robert Robotham published by Colourpoint 1998. Old colour photographs of the Isle of Man Railways - ISBN 1 898392 43 9
Douglas to Peel by Tom Heavyside - Middleton Press 2002 - ISBN 978 1 901706 88 8
Isle of Man Railways Vol. 1 Pre 1873 - 1904, Vol 2 1905 - 1994 & Vol. 3 by J I C Boyd - the definitive history of the Isle of Man railways - Oakwood Press.

Click here for a comprehensive list of books, magazines and videos about the Isle of Man railways.
Click here for a map showing all the stations on the IOM network including Manx Electric Railway

Other web sites: Narrow Gauge Heaven - includes old colour photographs

Click here for more photographs of the Port Erin, Douglas, Castletown, Balasalla & Santon

To see other stations on the Douglas - Peel line click on the station name: Quarter Bridge, Braddan Halt, Union Mills, Crosby, Ballacraine Halt & Peel.

To see other stations on the St. Johns - Ramsey line click on the station name:
Peel Road, St. Germain's, Gob-y-Diegan, West Berk Level Crossing,
Kirkmichael, Bishop's Court, Ballaugh, Ballavolley Halt, Sulby Glen, Sulby Bridge, Lezayre & Ramsey

See also Knockaloe and the Foxdale branch with stations at St. Johns (MGN), Waterfall & Foxdale


 

 

 

[Source: Paul Wright]


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