Manx Electric Railways, by George Hobbs

Manx Electric Railways, by George Hobbs

Manx Electric Railways

Book published by Loaghtan in 2016, 140 pages. Paperback - c.21cm by 29.5cm (N6714X1)

Brand New Books

From the rear side cover: The Manx Electric Railway is famous as a Victorian survival but that fact is not as simple as it seems. This unique tramway, like any other, exists to take people where they want to go. Without passengers there would be no tramway; the MER has survived by adapting. Covering the eighteen miles from Douglas to Ramsey, the book contains a fascinating collection of old and new photographs. Wherever possible the new photographs have been taken from the same vantage point as the old and so show what has altered as well as what has stayed the same. Perhaps ironically it is often the antique vehicles which provide the one constant in a changing scene.

From the introduction: The Manx Electric Railway may look as though it is set in a time warp, a seemingly unchanging tramway served by unchanging trams over more than 120 years. This is not the case; the survival of the tramway is due to its continual adaptation over the years. The railway, the island and the people whom the tramway serves have moved with the times. A major change was the takeover of the tramway by the Manx Government in 1957 when the owner, The Manx Electric Railway Company, was practically bankrupt and unable to continue to operate and maintain it. The environment of the tramway has changed. Like the rest of the world the Isle of Man is not immune to social and economic pressures. Housing developments around the major towns have nibbled at the countryside; villas and bungalows have appeared in rural areas, and tourist facilities, suffering from the onslaught of cheap flights and hotels in warmer climes, have been superseded by residential developments. The farming communities have adapted to more intensive land use. Most significantly the prevalence of private car ownership has led to a decrease in demand and the loss of the year-round tram service, with a concentration on the seasonal leisure market.

The tramway infrastructure has also changed. At Derby Castle the cast iron shelter for the Douglas Corporation horse trams was demolished early in 1980. This was adjacent to the MER terminus and also used by MER passengers. The upper car sheds at Derby Castle (1999) and the shed at Laxey (2009) have been replaced. The tracks were re-laid at Laxey station in 2014 and the Ballure Viaduct, near Ramsey was refurbished in 2015. The power supply has been upgraded with modem solid state re­placing the mercury arc rectifiers. Contin­ued expenditure on track replacement and maintenance, including recent installation of concrete sleepers and long welded rail, are now making a visual (and audible) dif­ference compared to the traditional jointed rail on wooden sleeper track....
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