Isle of Man Steam Railway locomotive No. 8, Fenella, left its home island for the first time in more than a century to take part in the Beyer Bash 120th birthday event for the Welshpool & Llanfair Light Railway’s original engines Earl and Countess.
Fenella was the eighth steam loco built for the island’s steam railway, first delivered in 1894 and, after a restoration, is fully operational. Earlier this year it was transported off-island to team up with the two Welsh locos, which were built in 1902 at the same Beyer Peacock factory in Gorton, Manchester, that produced many of the Isle of Man’s steam engines.
Accompanying the loco were representatives of Isle of Man Transport and the Isle of Man Steam Railway Supporters’ Association, who promoted next year’s 150th anniversary of the Isle of Man Steam Railway, along with the 130th anniversary of the Manx Electric Railway.
Next year will see bumper celebrations to mark those milestones.
On July 1, 2023, there will be a ‘glorious celebration’ of 150 years of steam to mark the official anniversary of the opening of the Isle of Man Railway Company Ltd in 1873.
A five-day festival will run from July 26-30, 2023, to celebrate all the island’s award-winning heritage railways – also including the incredible Snaefell Mountain Railway – with a number of events to mark the two anniversaries.
And then, on September 10, 2023, there will be a commemorative day to mark 130 years of the unique Manx Electric Railway (MER) which first opened its first section, from Derby Castle in Douglas to Groudle Glen, in 1893.
The island’s steam railway is the longest narrow gauge steam line in the British Isles that still uses its original locomotives and carriages, running from the capital city of Douglas to the southern beach village of Port Erin, which also is home to a rail museum.
The 15-and-a-half mile route on a three-foot narrow gauge was originally part of a wider network and contains a number of picturesque stops, including the ancient town of Castletown, home to the historic Castle Rushen, which has plenty of tales to tell, including the island’s role in the English Civil War.
The Manx Electric Railway was extended in stages until it reached Ramsey, in the north of the island, in 1899. Much of its Victorian and Edwardian era rolling stock remains in use.
Passengers are treated to breath-taking coastal views, stopping at numerous beauty spots along the 17-mile route. The MER also stops at the village of Laxey – home of the famous Lady Isabella giant water wheel – where passengers can link links up with the Snaefell Mountain Railway.
For more information: www.rail.im
Isle of Man Railways