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Heritage Railway Volunteers

Heritage railway volunteers share thousands of hours supporting the Friends of Douglas Bay Horse Trams, Steam Railway and Manx Electric Railway.

Friends of Douglas Bay Horse Trams

The Douglas Bay Horse Tramway forms an intrinsic part of the Island's heritage. The dedicated volunteers lead guided tours of the tramway stables at Summerhill, offer a unique opportunity to go ‘behind the scenes’ of the world’s last remaining original Victorian horse-drawn tramway and assist in special events. Their tours also allow people to find out about the tramways Clydesdale and Shire ‘Trammers’ (heavy horses) and the work of the stables staff caring for them.

During the winter season when the tramway is closed, volunteers are involved in the restoration of the vintage horse-drawn tramcars at Derby Castle Depot.

Stuart Mullan, an organiser of Friends of Douglas Bay Horse Trams said:

'The volunteer team is not just people who are interested in trams or railways, but also people who have an interest in heavy horses and the history of the Isle of Man. The Friends of DBHT are always interested in increasing their membership, which is free to join.'

If you would like to find out more go to or perhaps join the team of volunteer friends, then please contact enquiries@friendsofdbht.org

Heritage Railway Volunteers tram

Steam Railway

Isle of Man Steam Railway is the longest narrow gauge steam line in Britain that still uses its original locomotives and carriages. The Steam Railway volunteers give guided tours of the Railway Museum in Port Erin on Sunday mornings and selected Thursday evenings. They help out in the planning and delivery of specialist enthusiast events during ‘Rush Hour’ and the ‘Heritage Transport Festival’, and at other times when required.

They offer guided bus tours and walks along the routes of the abandoned railway lines and provide film shows and illustrated talks.

During the closed season the volunteers have been instrumental in bringing about improvements to the Railway Museum during the past few years, as part of an ongoing programme to enhance the heritage railway experience for visitors and locals alike. For more information contact Mike Buttell through Facebook.

Manx Electric Railway

The Manx Electric Railway was built between 1893 and 1899 and connects the Island’s capital, Douglas, with Laxey in the east and Ramsey in the north. It’s acknowledged as the longest narrow gauge vintage electric railway system in the British Isles and still uses its original Victorian and Edwardian rolling stock. In fact two of the trams in use are the oldest electric trams in continuous operation on their original line in the world!

The Manx Electric Railway volunteers undertake restoration of rolling stock and also assist at key events such as the ‘Manx Heritage Transport Festival’ and ‘Rush Hour’ on the Railways.

The volunteer group has continued with the restoration of MER 'Ratchet' Car 14 which is scheduled for completion early this year.  Car 14 has not been used since 1978 and once fully restored will be the only 'ratchet' or hand braked tram in service.  Volunteers have completely stripped, cleaned and varnished all the body woodwork including the 48 clerestory sashes and the wooden seats. 

The Manx Electric Railway’s engineers based at Derby Castle are carrying out all the mechanical and electrical works including a full rewire of the tram. The tram, built in 1898, will be restored to its 'as new' condition.

Andrew Scarffe, the Volunteer Team Leader explained:

'Car 14 will be the star attraction of the week long series of events which are being held from the 1st to 8th September 2018 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Manx Electric Railway. In 2019, members of the public will be able to drive Car 14 as part of the Manx Electric Railway’s 'Ultimate Driving Experience.'

For more information on the MER volunteer group assisting on the electric railways please email Andrew Scarffe, Isle of Man Transport.

Andrew Scarffe

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