Marine Drive

The photographs are taken from various postcards of c.1905 - mostly from the sets issued as souvenirs by the Company for sale to tourists

Map based on that by Goodwyn
Marine Drive - Gatehouse
Gate house c.1903

By the 1890s Douglas Head was a major tourist resort - given the late Victorian taste for scenic drives, the development of Marine Drive along the slate cliffs towards Port Soderick was an obvious addition. The Douglas Head Marine Drive Ltd was formed 1st July 1889 with plans to construct a drive between Douglas Head and Keristal on private land owned by J. S. Goldie Taubman (of the Nunnery), by 1892 the company had been acquired by a Lancashire based syndicate and the drive completed as far as Little Ness, crossing Wallberry on a timber trestle.

At the opening of the Little Ness terminus in 1893 it was announced that a concession to run an electric tramway along the drive had been agreed.

Compare the post tramway view of the Gatehouse with that immediate prior.

Marine Drive - Power house
Power House at Pidgeon Cove

By 1895 Douglas Southern Electric Tramways had been formed , a subsidiary company of the General Traction Company formed by Graff-Baker and construction of the unique 3mile long tramway based on a single track (with passing loops) at standard gauge.

The equipment was, like the MER, mostly imported from the USA but the company had some significant civil engineering to complete with viaducts at Pidgeon stream and the replacement of the timber structure at Wallberry by a steel girder bridge 256ft long plus another 120ft span at Horse Leap.

The power station had twin 100kW Westinghouse dynamo sets - though the workshop was housed here, the depot was further down the line on the windswept promontory at Little Ness.

Marine Drive - approaching Wallberry
Approaching Wallberry

Marine Drive - Wallberry viaduct
Wallberry viaduct

Marine Drive - view back along coast
A view looking back along the coast towards Douglas Head Gatehouse.

Marine Drive - Whing
The Whing

The line to Keristal opened 1 April 1897 with the extension to Port Soderick on 11 July 1898 - a chair lift was installed to ease the access to Port Soderick, a little later a second chair lift (Douglas Head Inclined Railway) was added at Douglas Head.

Eventually 8 power cars and six trailers were in service - the electric tramway by reducing the earnings of the original Douglas Head Marine Drive Co pushed that into receivership but the tramway continued with some re-organisation in 1909.

The tramway was closed during WW1 and re-opened in 1919, however it went into decline especially after 1929 but continued on until WW2. The cars were left in the depot whilst Marine Drive was closed to all traffic as the adjacent sea was used for bombing practice.

Postwar it never re-opened, car No 1 was extracted from the depot and is now at Crich tramway museum.

The Marine Drive roadway was re-instated in 1956 after some 7 years work and at a cost of £0.25M as some parts needed to be blasted out of the cliff face as the bridges were unsafe - some 20 years later the road was closed after major rockfalls but can still be walked along.

See also1906 Advertisement.


A. M Goodwyn Douglas Head Marine Drive & Electric Tramway Douglas:MER Soc 1976 (reprinted since)
George Hobbs By Whing to Port Soderick The Story of the Manx Marine Drive Maughold, Loughtan Books 2015 ISBN 978-1-908060-12-9


[Manx Note Book]
  see also Coastal path

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2009