Isle of Man, part 1: boats and trams

Isle of Man 1930s

In the 1930s, my dad, an only child, and my grandparents, went on holiday to the Isle of Man, suitably attired for the British weather, probably on a steamer like this below, from Fleetwood. How do I know? Because I inherited the photos. I was determined to follow in their footsteps.

Isle of Man steamers

So, on Monday 10 August I travelled by train up to Liverpool (spotting A4 Union of South Africa at Crewe) and after a walk round the Walker Art Gallery and a pint at the Welkin, I boarded the Seacat Manannan and set sail for Douglas. Tip: don't waste your money reserving a seat, there are better ones available if you get there early. Warning: lots of steps involved! Couldn't get a photo of the catamaran as it was too close, did however get a snap of the dazzle shipped Mersey ferry, designed by Peter Blake.

Dazzle ship in Liverpool

Two and three-quarters of an hour later, we were at the Douglas ferry terminal and it was a short walk along the prom in the dark to my digs Cubbon House, where landlord Paul was hanging around outside ready to carry my case up all those stairs.

Day 1, Tuesday 11 August: trams
After a veggie full breakfast in a full dining room, I stepped outside to the Horse Tram stop and with my 3-day Go Explore card (£32, get one!) hailed a tram being pulled by John. The tram lines are in the middle of the road so the conductor has to stop the traffic to let you get on. On the way to the Electric Railway, we met a horse being trained and another one close behind. At the terminus I asked for a horse bingo card and got it stamped.

Horse tram, Isle of Man

Now, when is a tram not a tram? When it's an Electric Railway! This was a tram pulling a semi open carriage. The first train was full so waited for the next one and sat in the open air bit at the back!

Electric railway, Isle of Man

It was quite a hilly route and a bumpy ride! At Laxey I jumped off and straight onto the waiting Snaefell Mountain Railway, which trundled up past the Wheel, past the TT circuit and round the mountain to the summit cafe at 2036 ft high.

Snaefell tram, Isle of Man

Back down again - it wasn't very scary, no precipitous drops! - and I waited for a tram to Ramsey, the northern end of the line. There wasn't much to see there - it's a working docks - so I bought some stamps at the PO, some postcards at an ice cream shop and a sandwich at the Co-op, and got the tram back to Douglas. I took a horse tram all the way to the ferry terminal (with Amby) and did a recce for the steam railway tomorrow, via the marina/harbour. Had a pint of Okell's Saison golden ale outside The British and ate lobster bisque followed by haddock with seared courgettes at the nearby excellent Little Fish Cafe, washed down with a Pearl Necklace oyster stout.

Haddock and courgettes at the Little Fish Cafe, Douglas

And so to my (single) bed.

More photos on Flickr.

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