Manx Railways


Map showing IoM Railways

After several failed attempts to promote a railway linking the major towns, a 3ft gauge line along the central valley between Douglas and Peel via St John's was opened on 1st July, 1873.

The southern line from Douglas to Port Erin via Castletown was opened in August 1874.

The third section from St Johns to Ramsey along the coast via Kirk Michael was built by the Manx Northern Railway and opened 23 September 1879.

The fourth section from St Johns to Foxdale was also built by a separate company, the Foxdale Railway Co Ltd . in expectations of revenue from conveying the lead ore from the Foxdale mines - service started in August 1886 - however the possible traffic from the Foxdale mine had encouraged the M.N.R. to take out a 50 year lease. This traffic was to prove short lived - the mines were declining very quickly and the cost of the Foxdale line plus the loss of passenger traffic to the newly opened M.E.R. put the M.N.R. into financial difficulties with the result that all railways were amalgamated by 1904 (legal transfer taking place in 1905).

Douglas Railway Station c. 1900
Douglas Railway Station c. 1900

Traffic on the Foxdale line was slight and after a brief period of activity in moving the deads from the mines to act as foundations for Ronaldswey during WW2 services ceased shortly afterwards. The declining holiday traffic and improvements in Road Transport put the railways into financial difficulties such that the system closed in 1966 - in 1967 Lord Ailsa leased the system with an eye to possible tourist trade but the traffic never materialised and he relinquished the lease in 1969. The IoM Victorian Steam Railway Co was formed and operated the Douglas-Port Erin link during the summer season. The other lines closed and were lifted becoming in the main public footpaths - the Douglas-Port Erin line passing into Goverment control and is currently operated as a seasonal tourist attraction.


Online Pages

The Manx Northern Railway The Railway Magazine V pp 59/68, July 1899.
The Railways of the Isle of Man Locomotives and Railways Vol 1 pp56/8 1900
The Isle of Man Railway The Locomotive Magazine pp201/2 Dec 1902
New Locomotives, Isle of Man Railway The Locomotive Magazine pp208/9 Dec 1906
The Isle of Man and its Railway Beyer-Peacock Quarterly Review vol 2 no 2 pp43-48 April 1928
The Isle of Man Railway The Railway Magazine pp310/315 December 1941
Douglas to Peel by Railway in Jenkinson's Guide 1874
[Coming of the Railway] in Historical Section Brown's I.O.M. Directory 1882


There are many books that cover both the history and the locomotives (+ rolling stock)


[Manx Note Book]

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2011