Castellated Relics of the Douglas Southern Electric Tramway (Isle of Man)

The grand castellated entrance to Marine Drive on the Isle of Man, formerly the route of the long abandoned Douglas Southern Electric Tramway. (Image: Glyn Baker. Route of the old Douglas Southern Electric Tramway on Marine Drive)

Vintage trams, both passenger-carrying and rugged industrial tramways, largely disappeared from the UK decades ago, but in many areas, their remains are hidden in plain sight. One of the most charming we’ve stumbled across is the abandoned Douglas Southern Electric Tramway on the Isle of Man, which once carried passengers from Douglas Head to Port Soderick along what is now known as Marine Drive. Abandoned in 1939 and largely destroyed by the 1950s, two grand castellated gateways survive to tell its story.

Marine Drive on the Isle of Man (Image: Glyn Baker. Marine Drive)

Opened in 1896 by the London-based New General Traction Company, the Douglas Southern Electric Tramway followed the course of the cliffs, passing over a series of dramatic viaducts as it wound its way toward Port Soderick. A funicular railway (see here), itself long removed, carried passengers the last leg of the journey from the Douglas Head Marine Drive Railway (as the route was also known) on the clifftop to the tiny hamlet below. Then came World War Two, which saw the tramway and funicular shut down forever.

The abandoned tramway arch at Port Soderick. (Image: Richard Hoare. The abandoned tramway arch at Port Soderick)

Rudimentary tram sheds and workshops at Little Ness, about halfway along the route, are no more. The site of an old power station that provided electricity for the trams is now a car park. The disused trackbed – now a road called Marine Drive – has suffered several landslides over the years, leading to its closure to through-traffic in 1977. Today, the most impressive relic of the abandoned Douglas Southern Electric Tramway is the grand entrance at the east end of Marine Drive.

(Image: Rude Health. Derelict buildings at Port Soderick)

Another lonely arch, this one smaller and less grand, stands amid the ghost town that is Port Soderick, at the opposite end of the line. The hamlet, which includes a shuttered amusement arcade, paddling pool and hotel/pub (the Anchor), declined after the tramway and funicular ceased operating at the outbreak of World War Two.

(Image: Andy Stephenson. The Anchor hotel/pub from the former paddling pool)

Various attempts have been made to revive its fortunes over the decades, but as yet Port Soderick remains a haunting relic of the British seaside holiday. Earlier this year it was reported that the derelict buildings are set to be converted into tourist accommodation.

A surviving Douglas Southern Electric Tramways car at Crich, Derbyshire. (Image: Optimist on the sun)

The abandoned tramway, meanwhile, with stunning views over the Irish Sea, now forms part of the Raad ny Foillan coastal footpath, which translates to the Way of the Gull. An original tramcar (above) was saved from scrapping and is now displayed at the National Tramway Museum at Crich, Derbyshire.

Read Next: 9 Abandoned Cableways, Aerial Tramways & Ropeways of the World


About the author: Tom





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