IOMPS Courier Report for 9th April

Date Published 
Thu 9 Apr 2020
Courier Report 090421

The Covid-19 lockdown continues, so again the IOM Photographic Society meeting was cancelled this week. However, it has provided the perfect opportunity to explore and enjoy – and perhaps to look forward to - some of the delights of the Manx countryside as we move into Spring. One of the favourite themes enjoyed by many photographers is that of steam railways – and the Island provides one of the very best opportunities anywhere in the world to do just that.

Founded in 1870, the IOM Railway Company opened the first railway on the island in 1873 connecting Douglas with Peel, followed by the line to Port Erin in 1874. Which suggests that we may expect a glorious 150th anniversary celebration in the next couple of years.…. The Manx Northern Railway completed the network a few years later with lines from Peel to Ramsey and a short extension to Foxdale for a total of 46 miles of track on the Island. Today, only the Douglas to Port Erin line remains in service, the non-viable Peel and Ramsey lines being lifted and removed in 1975. The Manx government nationalised the remaining system in 1977, and although a commuter option was explored some years ago, it operates today essentially for the very seasonal (summers only) tourism trade plus a recent innovation of dining experiences and “special events”.

The railway is narrow-gauge, with a 3ft track, still uses original engines and carriages , and with the 15 miles from Douglas to Port Erin, making it the longest such system working in Britain. All but one of the 16 original engines were built by Beyer Peacock of Manchester – a renowned manufacturer of nearly 8000 engines in total, most of which were exported around the world. 

Keeping to historical correctness, coaches and locomotives carry their original names and corporate logos“Kissack” (Number 13) is one of the engines still in service and is seen here at Ballasalla, whilst “Caledonia” (Number 15) wearing Manx Northern Railway colours and also in service is seen in Douglas, both images by Sue Jones, a Life Member of the IOM Photographic Society. Several other engines – such as “G H Wood” and “Loch”, seen in my own image on a “special steam day” outing in March 2015 are both being overhauled but hopefully will be back in service soon. Escorted visits to the engine sheds have been a regular feature in recent years, and something well worth doing – the sheds are also original, and a visit quite evocative and atmospheric. A good range of facilities is on hand, from machine shop to paint shop, carpenters stores to heavy lifting gear but really major work necessitates the engines being sent away.

Hopefully, we shall soon see a full 2021 timetable of activities for the IOM Steam Railway and the opportunity again to get some super images of these delightful engines.

Given the Covid-19 situation, our programme is currently in abeyance and we are unable to provide a date for our next meeting, so please check our website – – or our Facebook page for details of any updates or changes. Our meetings are held the St John Ambulance HQ on Glencrutchery Road, starting at 7:00 pm and are open to the public (non-members with a modest entry fee), and all will be given a very warm welcome. 

The Isle of Man Photographic Society is supported by the Arts Council

Chris Blyth


IMAGE 01: Caledonia by Sue Jones

IMAGE 02: Kissack by Sue Jones

IMAGE 03: Loch and GH Wood Double-Header by Chris Blyth