Derby Castle Shed Tours – July 2013

As part of the July 2013 Manx Heritage Transport Festival, shed tours of the Derby Castle Car Sheds were undertaken on the 26th July 2013. Volunteer stewards from the team worked alongside Isle of Man Railways and the Derby Castle Shed Staff to enable a wide variety of unusual exhibits were on display for the tours.

Five 50-minute tours were operated during the afternoon. It was not possible to source a spare vehicle for the ‘Tram Shuttle’ advertised for the event, with tour participants instead walking between the station and car shed site. 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as well as an opportunity to photograph a rolling stock lineup including servicable Car No.2 and Van No.4 alongside withdrawn Trailers Nos. 37, 42, 43 and 49, all of which had been cleaned prior to the event.

Once inside the Top Shed, a further rolling stock lineup included long withdrawn Ratchet Cars Nos. 15, 17, 18 and 29 .With most of the servicable fleet in use on the days intensive timetable, the opportunity had been taken to specially position these Cars by workshop staff and cleaned by volunteers, allowing these historic vehicles a rare public appearence.

The tours then continued to the Bottom Sheds, initially visiting the Hospital Roads site were Car No.33 and Trailer No.48 were undergoing mechanical attention. Items on display here included spare motors and the various structures in the building including the sand drying kilns and old Motor testing equipment. The Blacksmiths shop at the rear of this building was also visited.

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, and a brief demonstration by workshop staff of the motor rewiring processes.

An extensive display of M.E.R. artifacts throughout its history had been located by volunteers and workshop staff, and put on display in the Paintshop building where the tours concluded. On display were items including plaques from the early 1900s, advertising materials and hoardings from the 1960s onwards, historcial pictures and items of bodywork removed from Cars and Trailers during restoration.

All five tours ran full to capacity (with the fifth tour being added due to demand) The 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, and extend their thanks to the workshop staff at Derby Castle who ‘went the extra mile’ to ensure a large amount of historic items of interest gained a rare public audience.

A full gallery of images from the day is available by clicking HERE.

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