Tours Isle of Man - The Island's coach operator

Ballasalla Airport Garage, Ballasalla, Isle of Man, IM9 2AN

Tel 01624 822611, Fax 01624 822389

Website: E-mail [email protected]

During the boom years of mass tourism the Island enjoyed many dozens of coach operators, ranging from sizable fleets including Corkills, Downwards (Highlander), Hamills, Manintourist and Shimmins through to the owner-driver with one coach. Since the 1960's and largely due to the move away from the traditional British holiday towards foreign packages gathered momentum, the Island's coaching industry has undergone wholescale and dramatic changes. Following prolonged reduction which affected the number of operators and their fleet sizes, the Summerhill based operations of Tours (Isle of Man) emerged as the Islands premier coach fleet.

No longer can rows of coaches be seen parading along the Promenades of Douglas and other Island resorts waiting for emerging holidaymakers ready to embark on the traditional full and half day tours. Tours (Isle of Man) reacted to these dramatic changes and undertook a wide range of work which, whilst covering the traditional Island tours, also encompassed private hire and off-Island package holidays where coaches could be seen throughout the United Kingdom and Europe. It also diversified into contract work and registered its network of Express coach services before the state run Isle of Man Transport finally managed to get its act together and unveil their express bus routes. Towards the latter part of 2003 ownership of the company passed to Protours (IOM) who introduced a new fleetname, livery and invested in newer stock.

At the end of 2008 Protours relocated the operation to premises on the outskirts of Ballasalla, near to Ronaldsway airport, whilst at the beginning of 2012 the company once again passed into local hands, at the same time reverting to its earlier name Tours Isle of Man. Today business largely comprises Island tour, private hire and schools work, whilst an express service linking the Island's south and capital is operated and an attractive off-Island tour programme is offered with coaches venturing far beyond the Islands shores.

Around twenty coaches currently comprise the fleet, including a rare ACE Puma, plus a fleet of vintage vehicles comprising two 1950's Duple Vista bodied Bedford OB's, a Plaxton bodied Bedford VAL from the 1960's and a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow car.

Full details of the Tours Isle of Man operation can be found at the company website, or by contacting Tours - see above for website and cotact addresses.

Featured below are a selection of photographs depicting Tours Isle of Man vehicles found in the fleet since the 2012 change of owenship - note some coaches have subsequently been withdrawn or replaced.

Tours Isle of Man full size coach fleet largely comprises of Irizar bodied Scanias, including 1 (311 JMN), passing Castletown harbour with a party on a tour to the town. Driver Bernie May negotiates parked cars on the way out of the town.

Another Iriza bodied Scania 2 (511 JMN) waits to pick up its party at Derby Castle, Douglas. Between the coach and public house is the terminus of the Douglas horse tramway and Manx Electric Railway

Waiting for its party who were visitinig the town, Irizar bodied Scania 3 (BMN 111) waits at the Ramsey coach park.

With the former Douglas swing bridge control in the backgrouns, Berkhof bodied Scania 5 (TMN 55) negotiates the roundabout on its way to Douglas Promenades.

Berkhof bodied Volvo B10M 8 (108 JMN) is photographed at Tours parking area on the outskirts of Douglas

Also parked at the Douglas parking area is Iriza bodied Scania 9 (411 JMN)

In addition to full size coaches, Tours Isle of Man operates a number of mid-size vehicles and minicoaches, including Leicester Carriage Builders bodied Ford Iveco 21 (MAN 111B).

Driver Geoff Keig steers Olympus bodied Mercedes 609D 24 (HMN 111) along Glencrutchery Road, Douglas during the 2013 Tourist Trophy motorcycle race period . The coach has since been withdrawn.

Also in the Tours fleet is this rare Van Hool bodied Alternative Chassis Engineering (ACE) Puma, one of a dozen or so built by the Huddersfield maufacturer. Although acquired second-hand, this intetesting vehicle has spent most of its working life on the Isle of Man and is now the most historically significant psv still in service on the Island. Harris Promenade, Douglas is the location.

When delivered in 2003 Turkish built BMC Probus 850 Club 33 (BMN 111C) was the first new coach for an Island operator since 1978 (1972 if you discount minicoaches), and appeared shortly after the Tours (IOM) business passed to Protours. Subsequently additons to the fleet have either been transfer from the UK operation (Protours era) or through selective second-hand purchases or loans (Protours era and Tours Isle of Man fron 2012).

At Douglas Sea Terminal coach park, driver Lindsay Wilson with Berkhof bodied MAN11.190 35 (109 JMN) wait time before picking up a private hire party.

Wadham Stringer bodied Dennis Javelin 36 (MAN 111L) was acquired from a local taxi operation, and is seen with driver John Webster at the wheel on the streets at the back of Castletown on the way to the town coach park.

Once a front line touring coach Bova Integral 68 (MAN 1110) was subsequently fitted with 2 plus 3 seating for use primarily as a schools vehicle - seen emerging from Governors Dip, a section of road usually reserved for motorcycle racing during the TT and Manx Grand Prix periods but temporarily opened to normal traffic due to highway works.

At Laxey Mines Road coach park, opposite Ham & Egg Terrace, Plaxton bodied Leyland Tiger school bus 70 (DMN 111U) carries the all yellow livery. Subsequently withdrawn, the vehicle has been replaced by a more modern Volvo.

Pulling away from the Harris Promenade, Douglas coach waiting area is long serving Wadham Stringer bodied Leyland Tiger 71 (EMN 111U), which had previously served with the Ministry of Defence.

Leicester Carriage Builders bodied Ford Iveco minicoach 2L (EMN 2L) is captured at the Laxey coach park. To the left of the vehicle, further up the valley is the Lady Isaballa, the famous Laxey Wheel, the largest water wheel in the world, constructed in 1854 to drive pumps to remove water from the mine workings.

Complete with lettering for Tours Private Hire Self Drive service, Mellor bodied Ford Iveco 6L (CMN 6L) waits at the Harris Promenade coach parking area.

A vintage fleet comprising two Duple Vista bodied Bedford OB's, evoking memories of the 1950's, a Plaxton bodied Bedford VAL remiding people of who things were in the 1960's and a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow car add interest to the fleet and are very popular as wedding transport and other private hires. One of the OB's, 1950 MN, makes its way along Parsonage Road, Ramsey with driver John Brew at the wheel.

Line up of coaches in the yard behind the company's Ballasalla base, comprising since withdrawn Irizar bodied Scania 7 (111 JMN), Wadham Stringer bodied Leyland Tiger 71 (EMN 111U) and the second vintage Duple bodied Bedford OB, 1949 MN.