Unprecedented numbers of people travelled on the horse trams on Sunday September 14th, eager to become part of history: the last passengers to make the journey before the service was suspended to accommodate the upgrading of Douglas promenade.
To mark the occasion His Worship the Mayor, Councillor Stan Cain JP., drove the final return trip which departed from the Strathallan terminus at 5.20pm and carried a specially commissioned Douglas Horse Tram Service commemorative cover produced in a limited edition of 300 by the Isle of Man Post Office.
Sunday saw the Royal tram and the double decker tram running in parallel for the only time in the history of the horse trams and a number of special trams were also operating. The stables opened its doors for an open day where there was face painting, tours of the stables, talks by the Tramways Superintendent, displays of photographs and memorabilia, together with footage of the trams and an opportunity to take home a horse shoe as a memento.
Regeneration and Community Advisory Committee Chairman Councillor Stephen Pitts said: ‘The day proved a wonderful way to say goodbye – albeit only temporarily – to the horse trams. Judging from the huge crowds over the weekend there is still a huge affection for the horse trams and what was especially heartwarming was to see such a broad mix of generations enjoying this unique vintage transport system.
‘Special thanks are due to the tramways team together with those in the town hall who put a great deal of effort into organising what was a fitting end to a chapter in the 138-year history of the Douglas horse tram service.
‘The Council has operated the horse trams since 1902 and is committed to continuing this unique heritage transport system; the wealth of support has, I am sure, demonstrated how much the horse trams are appreciated by residents, visitors and enthusiasts from across the globe.’
As part of the Department of Infrastructure’s redevelopment of the promenade, the current status is that it is planned for the service to return in 2016 on a single track with passing places on the seaward side of the promenade and the Council has resolved to suspend the service for the 2015 season to accommodate the works.