Upper Douglas Cable Car

Schematic Route of Cable car and Horse Tram

Opened 15th August 1896, the section from southwards of Ballaquayle Road (from close to winding house at York Road) was closed in 1902 as felt that the gradient down Broadway was too dangerous; the whole system closed on 19th August 1929 with the tracks being finally lifted by 1932.

[From the Tourist vol 2 p178/180 1898 - at the end of Athol Street]

Its early history is somewhat tangled - Alexander Bruce and the IoM Tramways and Electric Power Co (later MER) had acquired in 1894 the final three years lease on the highly profitable Douglas Bay Horse Tramway which was necessary to them as a feeder for their Tramway to Laxey, Snaefell and Ramsey. Bruce politicked hard to electrify the Bay tramway but was rebuffed, however the Douglas Corporation was under great pressure by the inhabitants of Upper Douglas to provide some form of suitable transport. Several of the Douglas Commissioners realised that Bruce's need for the control of the Bay Tramway could be used to their advantage in getting him to committ to an Upper Douglas Cable Car similar to one that had been installed in Streaham, London by Dick, Kerr Ltd, partly financed out of the profits of the Bay Tramway. By May 1895 Bruce had agreed to build the Upper Douglas Cable system, double track the remaining single track part of the Bay Tramway and pay the Commissioners 15% of the receipts of the Bay line in return for a 21-year lease. The collapse of Dumbell's Bank in 1900 brought about the forced sale of the Tramways which were bought by Douglas Corporation.

Route was Victoria Street, Prospect Hill, Bucks Road, Woodbourne Road, York Road (depot and winding houses), Ballaquayle Road and onto Broadway. Not all cars went down Broadway, cars running the partial route had a fold down flap to cover the 'Broadway' destination on the upper panel as can be seen below.

Upper Douglas Cable Car no 75
Car No 75

The mechanism was a continuous, approximately two inch diameter, cable running in a centre conduit, similar to the San Francisco system of 1875; the car driver was in control of the gripper mechanism that allowed the car to be pulled by the cable, thus, apart from the short terminus section, the track was inherently double track, the car having a gripper at each end. The gauge was 3ft, the same as the Douglas Bay horse tramway. A connecting set of points were laid to allow interworking between the two tramways, a second proposed junction between the two at the foot of Broadway was apparently never built.

Passing Dumbell's Bank

Winding house

There was a previous horse omnibus from the Jubilee clock up Prospect hill but this apparently was not economic - a rather fuzzy image can be found in a 1895 photo of Loch Promenade:

Upper Douglas Horse omnibus
Upper Douglas Horse omnibus


S. Basnett & K. Pearson Double Century Chetwode: Adam Gordon 1996 (ISBN 1-874422-17-6)

 [Manx Note Book]



Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
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