NEEDLESS and AVOIDABLE modernisation of Douglas and Laxey stations...
Original threats of
'DEMOLITION' of Douglas Station if scheme was rejected
YOUR VIEWS ARE CRUCIAL to the FUTURE OF BOTH HISTORIC SITES
At no little cost to the taxpayer, Laxey Station, virtually unchanged in almost 100 years, is to receive modern paving, shopping mall-style LED lighting and stainless steel street furniture in a philistine and tasteless move that will see the 'timeless charm' of the site further ruined this winter. This follows last winter's removal of mature trees, kiosks, historic overhead, vintage-style lighting and the installation of 'metro link-style' modern overhead power equipment. The nearby historic mercury-arc substation is also to be dismantled. In another move that has caused outrage, the Department of Infrastructure (DoI) has applied to gut the interior of Douglas Steam Railway Station to construct a modern retail and dining facility. The threat to DEMOLISH the building if its plans do not go ahead has since been retracted by DOI Minister Mr Phil Gawne MHK.
The MERS believes the Laxey proposals are simply wrong and should be abandoned. The Douglas scheme has been put together without any regard for the 'heritage brief' - that could so easlly have been incorporated into a more responsible plan to repair and retain the station at reasonable cost.
The DoI which now manages Douglas station, has applied to remove the internal walls, floors and ceilings and install a new first floor and mezzanine, staircase and lift. An expanded restaurant is proposed for a new first floor. The former station offices would be converted into a new kitchen, the ticket office would become a cafe, and the booking hall would become a retail unit. The proposers claim the alterations will allow them to charge increased rental which they say will help cover the costs of the changes - £1.4 million. Exactly how this will happen has yet to be made public. There are fears amongst fans of the steam line that Port Erin station may be next to receive similar modifications, and plans for what appear to be an ultra modern steel-framed and plate glass replacement for Ramsey MER station have already been published.
Opponents of the Douglas scheme were told via the press: "If we [DoI] do not act now we will be faced with the building where the only option is to apply for demolition, and we feel it is much better to restore the building and make it part of a vibrant tourist attraction which is the principal role of the railways today."
The Island's Heritage organisations - including the MERS, Isle of Man Steam Railway Supporters' Association and Isle of Man Victorian Society, have officially opposed the Douglas scheme (the MERS objections to Laxey were rejected last year). All three are seeking a joint meeting with the Minister concerned Mr Phil Gawne, to discuss the future of Douglas Station and the further despolation of Laxey MER. We will urge revision of both plans to incorporate a tasteful heritage brief, that will retain and restore the appeal of both sites in a way that, in the case of Laxey, will actually work out costing less.
We further wish to see a recognition that the future of both railways and their part in the "vibrant tourist" infrastructure actually lies in the retention and promotion of what period charm has survived, and its enhancement and development through carefully thought out schemes - and not what has emerged to threaten this in the last eighteen months.
If you have views on these or other matters concerning the Island's historic railways, we urge Island members and residents to contact your Member of Keys, local newspapers, and/or in the case of non-Island residents, the Railway press - contact details - including email addresses under each member's name - appear below.
Details of current
members of the Department of Infrastructure can be found
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