The Manx Electric Railway – one of the wonders of Man!

An early MER handbill purchased from Australia.

No matter how many times I take the tram from Douglas to Laxey or Ramsey I never tire of it – the beauty of the scenery, the changing seasons, the wonderful sea air and the wind in my hair – if there is any comparable journey I’ve yet to hear of it. The trams started running back in the 1890s and have been rattling their way the 18 miles to Ramsey ever since. The same Victorian tramcars that operated back then are still in service and are very well maintained and internally are exactly as originally built. The Manx Electric Railway (MER) is the ideal way to explore the many glens along the north east coast of the island and, of course, by changing onto the Snaefell Moutain Railway at Laxey the summit of Snaefell can be reached – 2,034 feet above sea level.

Douglas to Ramsey takes an hour and a quarter; Douglas to Laxey thirty minutes. Douglas to the summit of Snaefell and back can be done in about two and half hours, but this doesn’t leave much time at the summit! If Snaefell is your intended destination pick a fine day otherwise your trip may be a wasted one as the summit is frequently swathed in mist with visibility down to a few yards. Formerly there was an hotel at the summit but in more recent times this has become a rather poor cafe (at least it was in 2005) and I haven’t heard of any improvement in the meantime.

Anyway, a description of a trip along the line and places worth visiting  will be covered in other posts and this is just a taster to draw your attention to the MER. I have linked to a  video of the line on YouTube which shows a journey from Douglas to Laxey but gives little clue to the wonderful scenery to be seen along the way. Surprisingly, there doesn’t appear to be an official MER video on YouTube – a wasted free marketing opportunity – and I will be raising the issue with the appropriate authorities.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Ellen Duffy on August 10, 2010 at 1:16 am

    On a recent return to the Isle of Man, I found myself with a few unscheduled hours one afternoon. Walked from Loch Promenade to the train station and asked the friendly man in the ticket booth where I could go and be back in Douglas by 5pm. He suggested Laxey. Although I had taken that trip before, I knew it would be a pleasant way to enjoy the nice weather and scenery. So off I went. As expected, it was a fun little trip. I delighted in watching the reactions of the other riders who originated from a cruise ship anchored in Douglas Bay.

    At one party I attended, I mentioned that I thought the IOM was a lot like an episode of “Lost.” There has to be a magnetic pull that keeps bringing you back.


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