As part of the April 2014 Rush Hour Event, shed tours of the Derby Castle Car Sheds were undertaken on the 20th of April. Volunteer stewards from the ManxElectricRailway.co.uk team worked alongside Isle of Man Railways and the Derby Castle Shed Staff to enable a comprehensive tour of the facilities to be given.
Five 50-minute tours were operated during the afternoon. On the majority of the tours, tour participants were taken up to the car sheds using the service car by us, alighting at the car sheds. On arrival, groups were taken into the top yard area and given a brief commentary on the history of the site and its evolution, as well as an opportunity to photograph rolling stock outside of the shed. Although a lot more of the running fleet was present on this day, the opportunity was taken to create a staggered lineup of 1898-built Cars No.16, No.17 and No.18, and the oldest and arguably most modern Trailers in the fleet, Trailer No.49 and ‘Access’ Trailer No.56.
The tours then continued to the Bottom Sheds, initially visiting the Hospital Roads site where Car No.20 was undergoing completion to a repaint, which was undertook during the winter. Items on display here included spare motors and the various structures in the building including the sand drying kilns and old Motor testing equipment.
Tour groups then entered the Machine shop and were given a history of the buildings varied use (previously being the Boiler house providing power for the line) as well as viewing the various items of machining equipment, the old and new Derby Castle substations.
An extensive display of M.E.R artifacts, now established as the M.E.R Goods Shed museum by hard-working members of the Derby Castle workshop staff since July, was the final port of call for the tour. Further items had been located by volunteers and workshop staff. including advertising materials and hoardings from the 1930s onwards, historical pictures and interpretation boards for the M.E.R throughout it’s history. In addition, local artist Michael Starkey was on hand to talk about his paintings, which are displayed on the wall bordering the Derby Castle Car Sheds.
All five tours were well loaded and 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.