Saturday August 2nd saw the first Charity Railtour operated by ManxElectricRailway.co.uk, The Crossover Crossbench. The tour offered the extremely rare opportunity to cover all of the avaliable Manx Electric Railway passenger track, rarely used in service crossovers and sidings in a single day!
The day opened to absolutely dreadful weather, with heavy rain being predominant during the early to mid morning. Due to this, the decision was taken to swap the booked ‘Crossbench’ Car No.32 for more suitable wet weather accommodation in 1893-built Car No.2, ensuring that tour participants (but not the motorman, conductor or stewards!) stayed relatively dry. Departing Derby Castle slightly late at 09:15, the tour covered all of the available track at the Derby Castle stop, including both crossovers (used for the shunting of Trailers), and the Groudle Siding.
An express run to Dumbell’s Row No.2 Crossover was then enjoyed, with the rare sight of a Car passing through Laxey non-stop! The car then reversed, and covered the No.1 Dumbells Row crossover (which had to be specially held open due to being sprung), and returned into Laxey Station wrong-line. As the tour was running early (and the Ultimate Driving Experience Car, No.6 was occupying the space on the Laxey Refreshment Siding), Car No.2 then shuttled across to the Laxey Car Shed, where all available track was covered (The headshunt, Road No.1 outside as far as the stabled F.70, Road No.2 inside as the stored Car No.28, and Road No.3 as far as the Shed door) Participants of the tour were also able to view and photograph the stored rolling stock, including Locomotive No.23, Cars No.25, No.26, No.27 and No.28, and Overhead Line Trailer No.52.
Departing Laxey Car Shed and then running over the crossover, the tour then ran back to Fairy Cottage, where it waited for the northbound service car to pass en-route to Ramsey. Following it north, the tour continued to Dhoon Quarry, where No.2 was recessed in the Siding, standing next to Wagon No.21. After the passage of service cars in both directions, the car then traversed the Dhoon Quarry Crossover and proceeded southbound to Ballaragh Crossover, which was then traversed.
On the run from Ballaragh to Ramsey, the plan was altered once again, with both The Garey and Lewaigue Crossovers being simply ‘ran back and over’, to allow more time for shunting at Ramsey. Upon arrival at Ramsey, the car shunted over to the Station Siding, and then entered the 1899-built Car Shed, allowing for participants to view and photograph the items of rolling stock located within, including Car No.14, Car No.30, Trailer No.50 and the Freight Trailer, No.26. No.2 then departed out of the car shed, across to the second siding at Ramsey. Previously covered over with flowerbeds, and very sparingly used since the late 1970s, the siding was specially cleared for the tour and provided a very rare sight for a car stabling on lunch break!
After departure from Ramsey post-lunch break, the tour proceeded southbound to Laxey (after brief photo-stops for passengers at Windy Ridge and Ballaragh), where the previously unavailable Refreshment Siding was covered. Departing southbound, the crossovers at Scarffe’s Crossing, Garwick, Onchan Head and Groudle were covered by the car shuttling in-between the timetabled service cars, with Car No.2 arriving back at Derby Castle Car Shed just after 4pm.
With Car No.32 remaining unused for the day in Derby Castle Car Shed, the decision was taken to offer a ‘surprise’ at the conclusion of the days events, with passengers transferring from Car No.2 to No.32 on the Car Shed Fan for a run to Onchan Head and return (in the event, the car ended up transporting normal passengers to Majestic!), returning wrong-line to Derby Castle.
The ManxElectricRailway.co.uk team would like to take the opportunity to thank all those involved with the operation of the tour and all the photographers and enthusiasts who took part. In total we managed to raise over £450 for the Laxey and Lonan Heritage Trust Wagon Appeal, and we will be hopefully undertaking another tour to this cause in the future.
covered on the day (Shaded in Red)
List of Total Mileage
covered on the day (xls Document)
With Thanks to Andy Ashton