Designer nappies for I-o-M tram horses?


The oldest horse drawn tramway in the World. Photo Charlie Dave, Wikipedia.

(Click to see picture in original context and details of licensing)

The Isle of Man is a historic rail transport enthusiast’s paradise. The attractions include:

Sadly, the Isle of Man Railway is but a shadow of its former self, thanks to the Tynwald, the Isle of Man government, concluding in 1975 that the closure of the railway would not effect tourism on the Island! We will return to the Isle of Man Railway in a future post. The railway, and its last minute reprieve by the Marquis of Ailsa, deserves an article all to itself.

Douglas’s horse tramway, dating back to 1876, is world’s oldest horse tramway. It runs along Douglas Promenade and links the Manx Electric Railway at Derby Castle to the Sea Terminal and Port. The line has survived two world wars and two changes of ownership. But can it it survive machinations of the ‘nappy council’?

The tramway was built and first operated by Thomas Lightfoot, a retired Sheffield civil engineer. In 1882, he sold the line to Isle of Man Tramways Ltd, which became the Isle of Man Tramways & Electric Power Co Ltd. In 1902, the Douglas Corporation purchased the lines from its bankrupt owners. The trams have been running ever since, only seeing brief breaks during World War II, and are a popular form of transport for locals and tourists.

However, in December 2007, Douglas Council leader, David Christian, accused the tramway of not planning ahead and the claimed service just kept ‘clip clopping along’. He proposed that the horses wore nappies and called for tram conductors to be axed. ”They aren’t there for safety of the passengers they are there to get a suntan.’ he added. By February 2008, the tramway company had informed the Council that the system envisaged by Mr Christian needed rigid shafts to support the nappies and that that would need a redesign to the tram’s front end and braking system. The leather traces currently used to haul the trams were also safer for the horses as they allowed them to move sideways to avoid traffic. Mr Christian riposted that the tramway bosses were being deliberately obstructive.

On 9 July 2008, Policy and resources committee chairman Stephen Pitts reported that information requested about systems used on tram horses in South Australia had not been provided. ‘I don’t see why someone in-house can’t design something for us.’ he commented. The project moved into top gear as councillors voted to rename the proposed nappies ‘animal waste receptacles’. Mr Christian said he hoped the press would pick up on the name change and use the new terminology.


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One Response to “Designer nappies for I-o-M tram horses?”

  1. Phil Says:

    The whole IOM Government is utterly incompetant as far as any heritage or tourism issue is concerned. The MER has been closed beyond Laxey for most of this year – again the “Tourism Minister” didn’t think it would affect the Tourist trade. After much argument the line is being opened single line from Laxey to Ramsey from July onwards.

    The Horse trams are fine. Conductors may not be the busiest in the work but as you can hop on and off as you like, thier removal would mean a redusction in fares collected. The driver has better things to think about than constantly checking behind him for new punters !

    Anyway, it IS still a fantastic place to go on holiday. I went a couple of weeks ago and you can read about it here: A great trip despite the useless Government.


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