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Isle of Man Railway, Douglas terminus
Douglas Station, Douglas, Isle of Man
Isle of Man Railway, Douglas terminus
associated engineer
Henry Vignoles
W.H. Thomas
Formans McCall
date  June 1872 - 1st July 1873
era  Victorian  |  category  Railway  |  reference  SC377753
ICE reference number  HEW 834
photo  Paul Dunkerley
The 3 ft (914mm) narrow gauge steam railway network on the Isle of Man was built by three companies that eventually merged to form the Isle of Man Railway. Two of the lines ran from Douglas Station, which is still in use and perhaps the finest narrow guage terminus in Britain.
Today, Douglas Station serves the narrow guage line that runs south west to Port Erin, on which trains run in the summer months. This line was the second to be completed on the island and is the only line left from the original network. The first line opened in 1873 and ran from Douglas west to Peel, hence the dates for the Douglas terminus (1872 - 1873).
The station features two island platforms, several goods platforms and sidings. The buildings were originally timber but replaced in brick in 1892. Creer Bros. of Douglas rebuilt the station frontage in 1924. To construct the terminus, a swamp was filled in at the confluence of the Rivers Dhou and Glas (from which the town gained its name).
The station complex saw development from 1875 onwards — a block housing offices was added in 1885-8, workshops were built by Gelling of Douglas in 1891-1906, the signal box was built by Dutton & Co. of Worcester in 1892, a corrugated iron carriage shed was added in 1893, and a paint shop was built in 1904-5. Platform covers by Hill & Smith of Brierley Hill, Staffordshire were added in 1909.
Though the Isle of Man would seem a small place to support a railway network, the need for it arose with the growth in popularity of pleasure steamers in the 1860s. This led to people coming to the island for their holidays and once there, they needed a way to get around. There was freight and, later, the lead and silver from Foxdale Mines to be moved. The narrow guage was chosen for the railway as being up to the job for passenger and freight transport, yet needing less money to construct. Narrow guage networks were cheaper for gradient and curve track works, and for structures, locomotives and rolling stock.
The lines ran from Douglas to Peel via St. Johnís (18.5km), Douglas to Port Erin (25.35km), St. Johnís to Ramsey (26.55km), St. Johnís to Foxdale Mines (4.8km), and Peel to Knockaloe.
The earliest of the three rail companies was the Isle of Man Railway Company, registered on 19th December 1870. Henry Vignoles was appointed company engineer. This company built the first two lines — Douglas to Peel (opened 1st July 1873) and Douglas to Port Erin (1st August 1874).
The company's resident engineer was Henry Greenbank, who later took over as company engineer (1878-1922). Contractors Watson & Smith completed the line to Peel but abandoned the Port Erin line in July 1874. It was completed using direct labour and is the line in use today. It is a single track, with passing lines at six stations. All the locomotives were 2-4-0 side tank engines by Beyer & Peacock & Co. of Manchester. There is a railway museum at Port Erin.
The Manx Northern Railway Company Ltd was formed on 22nd March 1877 in order to build the line from St. Johnís to Ramsey (engineer W.H. Thomas, resident engineer Malcolm Grant-Dalton, contractor J&W Grainger of Glasgow, subcontractor Brebner & Fleming for Ballaugh to Ramsay, Ramsay Station built by Boyde Bros. of Ramsay).
Work commenced on 1st March, 1878. The line opened on 23rd September 1879 and closed on 13th September 1965. All the locomotives were 2-4-0 side tank engines by Sharp, Stewart & Co. of Manchester.
The Foxdale Railway Company Ltd was promoted in 1882 to build the St. Johnís to Foxdale line (engineers Formans McCall of Glasgow, contractors Hugh Kennedy & Sons of Glasgow). The line operated from June 1886 using one 0-6-0 side tank engine. The Foxdale Mines closed in 1911.
The Isle of Man Railway Company absorbed the two other companies in 1904. A 1.6km branch line was built to Knockaloe Prisoner of War Camp in 1915. The line closed in 1920 and the track was removed in 1923-4.
The closure of the line to Ramsey in 1965 led to the virtual collapse of the steam railway on the island, with only the Douglas to Port Erin line left open by the mid 1970s.
Resident engineer: Henry Greenbank (first two lines)
Main contractor: Watson & Smith, London (first two lines)
Research: PD
"The Isle of Man Railway" by I. MacNab, revised J. Joyce
Ian Allan, London 1968
reference sources   CEH North

Isle of Man Railway, Douglas terminus