A Brief History of the Douglas Head Marine Drive Tramway

THE only Standard (4'-81/2" 1435mm) tramway in the Island extended for four spectacular miles along the cliffs from Douglas Head to Port Soderick. Opened for traffic in 1896, the line was equipped with a distinctive fleet of open-top four wheel double-deck cars and matching trailers. Cliff lifts at either end of the route eliminated the stiff climb for those who did not wish to be energetic.

The line was notable not only for its use of steel sleepers and side-running trolley wire, but also for the scale of its civil engineering and bridgework, including three viaducts supplied by the famous firm of Heenan & Froude Ltd., builders of the Great Stand at Ascot, the Rangoon Harbour Bridge, Blackpool Tower and other famous structures.

The Marine Drive line closed during the First World War, reopened in 1919 and survived until September 15 1939. The Drive was taken over by the Royal Navy during Second War, and the line partially dismantled. The assets of the Douglas Head Marine Drive were purchased by Tynwald in February 1945 but the tramway was said to be beyond resurrection. The fleet of tramcars survived in their remote and isolated depot at Little Ness until 1951 when Car No 1 was rescued for preservation (and is now at the Crich Tramway Museum, Derbyshire) whilst the rest were scrapped.

For the full history of this fascinating line see 'Douglas Head Marine Drive & Electric Tramway' by A.M. Goodwyn. Available from MERS Sales.