Car No.31 (1904)

Laxey Car Shed, 2015

Car No.31 in Laxey Car Shed, July 2015 © David Hennessey

Stored, Laxey Car Shed 2002 M.E.R Red/White

Car No.31 was the final member of the third series of Crossbench Open Motors delivered to the Manx Electric Railway in 1904. Built by the Electric Railway & Tramway Carriage Works Ltd of Preston, No.31 entered service on the M.E.R in July 1904 fitted with Brill 27Cx Trucks and Christensen Air Brake equipment however these were donated to the more commonly-used ‘Winter Saloon’ No.22 in October of the same year. No.31 was demoted to using No.22’s original E.C.C trucks and lack of air brakes meaning the Car had to rely on the tricky ratchet braking system.

No.31 was used regularly on Specials and summer services until the mid-1970s when electrical faults began the plague the Car. No.31 was offered for sale in 1978 however fortunately a large amount of opposition and few interested parties allowed the Car to be retained and restored to service the following year. Unfortunately No.31s electrical issues remained – the Car was officially withdrawn in late 1979 and placed into store at Laxey Car Shed, although it was recorded in service with the Overhead Line Department in the early-mid 1980s, and regarded as ‘capable of use’, but officially remained stored.

In 1992 No.31 was selected for a return to service and was taken to Derby Castle Car Sheds for a bodywork and truck overhaul, returning to active service in early 1993, however it’s electrical issues re-appeared early on in the season. The Car then made appearances during the enthusiasts events in 1993, 1995, 1998 (running two trips from Laxey to Minorca) and 2001 (between Derby Castle and Onchan Head), before finally making a surprising trip to Ramsey in August 2002 on private hire to the Isle of Man 50 Group – the last time a ‘Ratchet’-only car has operated on the M.E.R.

Unfortunately, with continuing electrical issues and the decision to discontinue ‘Ratchet-only’ working in late 2002, No.31 has remained out of service and is currently stored in Laxey Car Shed with, amongst other vehicles, fellow ‘Ratchet’ Car No.28. In March 2015 the Car had its trucks removed, and was stored on wooden sleepers, pending their further use.




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