On 1 July 1873 the first steam train to carry passengers from Douglas to Peel ‘glided easily and gracefully’ from Douglas railway station with the motto ‘Douglas & Peel United’ proudly draped on the locomotive. Exactly 150 years to-the-day, Manx National Heritage will open ‘Raad Yiarn / Iron Road’ in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery at the House of Manannan, the original Peel Railway Station.
Opening on Saturday 1 July, the exhibition will offer a visual glimpse into the complete story of the Douglas to Peel line. Drawn from the Library and Archives at the Manx Museum 19th-century engineering plans, colourful publicity posters, and 1960s photographs capture the last days of steam on the line. The exhibition will jog happy memories of steam trains in Peel and be an eye-opener to those unaware of the busy railway station that was once at St John’s.
The framed reproduction prints and canvases on display during this July exhibition are all available to purchase as souvenirs in this special 150th anniversary year.
Curator Jude Dicken says:
“It’s been fascinating selecting just a handful of images from thousands of photographs, plans and printed material for this exhibition. What I’ve chosen is my personal appreciation of the Victorian engineering vision, the century-and-a-half hard graft of the workers, and the delight of the huge number of passengers who used the line, notably on Tynwald Day. I’m especially grateful to the steam enthusiasts and Isle of Man Railway workers – past and present – who have shared with me their knowledge and love for the line.”
On loan just for the exhibition is the rosters book from 1908 to 1923 which records the drivers and miles they covered each day along with an actual section of iron rail from the 1873 Douglas to Peel line. Visitors will also have the chance to see on display for the first time the wooden sign from St John’s railway station removed when the station closed around 1968.
The exhibition is on display at the House of Manannan from 1 July to 30 July 2023. Admission is free, with donations welcome.
Image caption: Opening of the Isle of Man Railway, 1 July 1873 © Manx National Heritage (PG/8240)
Lynsey Clague, Communications Manager – Manx National Heritage
T: 01624 648032