Thomas Lightfoot 1814-1893

Born 14 Nov 1814 at Lowton (Warrington) Lancashire; after working on the Woodhead Tunnel settled in Sheffield until 'retiring', in 1875, to Douglas with wife (Jane Hibbert) and 13 children (including some already married).

In 1873 had managed to gain the contract to build a horse tramway for Sheffield Corporation and after settling in the one-time Crescent Hotel at the North end of Douglas Bay decided to use his experience and contacts to open a similar horse tramway along Douglas Bay. Using A.W. Adams he steered the necessary legislation through Tynwald by December 1876 though he had already ordered and had had delivered some of the equipment necessary. The first sod was cut (by Mr Adams on 7 June 1876 and the tramway opened for business on the 7th August 1876) with the complete track as far as the Peveril Hotel at the pier head opened in January 1877. Supposed to have cost him some £7,000 to £8,000 it appeared to run at a healthy profit - however he sold out in 1882 for £20,000 which money was to be invested in his Grand Theatre, Aquarium and Hotel complex at the end of Victoria Street.


The 1881 census indicates that Athol House was split into 3 houses:-

(1) Betsy Doughty (34) widowed daughter with 3 children (described as Lodging House Keeper) also
Robert Lightfoot (25) unmarried described as Manager of Baths

(2) son-in-law William and Jane Parker with 3 children

(3) Thomas and Jane with 3 younger children - both boys described as Tramway conductors!


Sandra Bolton Thomas Lightfoot and the Douglas Bay Tramway 1876 IoM Vic Soc Newsletter 59 p2/5 Aug 2001

Peter Kelly Creating the Gaiety & the Grand Manx Life Nov/Dec 1977 pp21/2




Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001