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Douglas Bay Tramway
Douglas Promenade, Isle of Man
Douglas Bay Tramway
associated engineer
Thomas Lightfoot
date  7th June - 7th August 1876
era  Victorian  |  category  Tramway/Funicular  |  reference  SC394774
ICE reference number  HEW 940
photo  Paul Dunkerley
The oldest remaining horse-drawn passenger street tramway in the world. Nowadays it operates along the magnificent sweep of Douglas Bay (Victoria Pier to Derby Castle) as a summer season tourist attraction.
A civil engineering contractor, Thomas Lightfoot retired to Douglas circa 1870 aged 56. Bored with unaccustomed leisure and realising the potential of Douglas as a growing holiday resort, he deposited plans and promoted The Douglas Bay Tramway Act. This was read by Tynwald (the island’s parliament) on 6 June 1876.
Losing no time, he began construction the very next day and by 7 August the first section of 3ft gauge tramway 7/8ths mile long was opened costing under £8,000. The enabling Act received Royal Assent five days later.
Originally 35 lb/yard rails were used, set into the promenade surface to comply with the Act. The single track line had passing loops -- short sections doubled to enable trams to pass in either direction. During the following January, the southern section was extended to the Peveril Hotel, making a length of over one and a half miles. Bored with his creation once it was operational, Lightfoot sold his shares in 1882 to the Isle of Man Tramways Ltd.
The line was doubled in length from 1888-90 and extended to its final northern terminus at Derby Castle, where the depot came into service in August 1896 and there is an interchange with the Manx Electric Railway to Laxey and Ramsey.
At various dates, most of the line has been re-laid with 48 or 65 lb/yard rails. Douglas Corporation took over in 1902 and extended the line to its final southern terminus at Victoria Pier.
The winter service was abolished in 1927 and the tramway was closed from 1939-46. The last double-decker tramcar left for a mainland museum in 1955. The remaining fleet are either closed cars or open ‘toast-rack’ cars, both seating 24 passengers.
Competitions are held amongst the island’s schoolchildren to choose names for new horses.
Research: PD
bibliography
"Isle of Man Tramways" by F.K. Pearson
David & Charles, Newton Abbot, 1970
"The Douglas Bay Tramway Act, 1876" Isle of Man Government
reference sources   CEH NorthIAIM
Location

Douglas Bay Tramway