“Manx National Heritage is extremely disappointed at today’s announcement from Douglas Corporation regarding the closure of the Isle of Man’s iconic Horse Trams. The announcement is contrary to reassurances Manx National Heritage has previously received from Douglas Corporation.
The Isle of Man’s historic transport network is an important part of the Isle of Man’s Visitor Economy and part of our unique offering as a visitor destination. It is disappointing that Douglas Corporation are not seeing the opportunities presented by the Isle of Man’s new Destination Management Plan developed in partnership with public and private sectors, especially given that in recent years, leisure tourism here has seen double digit growth. In particular major UK travel companies such as Great Rail Journeys have started to bring substantial numbers of groups to the Island. Indeed we are preparing to welcome organised parties to the Island early in March this year, lengthening the season and helping to sustain local businesses in Douglas.
Ironically, all over Europe and further afield new tramways are opening up, including a horse tramway in Dobeln in Germany which has recently been rebuilt and reopened after being closed for 90 years.
From a conservation perspective the best way to preserve historic rolling stock is to maintain it in operation in a sustainable way rather than transferring the costs of upkeep of a static object to a museum or group of volunteers. These historic vehicles were designed to move.
Manx National Heritage fully recognises that difficult financial conditions require bold and innovative solutions. We remain keen to work with Douglas Corporation and other key stakeholders to find a solution for the benefit of the Island and all those supported by our visitor economy”.
Image caption: Douglas horse tram No. 14 stopped alongside the Villa Marina Arcade during horse tram centenary celebrations, 9 August 1976