As part of the April 2014 Manx Heritage Transport Festival, shed tours of the Derby Castle Car Sheds were undertaken on the 31st of July. 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. Upon arrival at the car sheds, 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. As we have previously presented tram lineups before, the decision was taken to pose a withdrawn car set on the car shed fan, with 1898-built ‘Ratchet’ Car No.18 making it’s first outside display appearance in nearly 15 years, alongside 1893-built Trailer No.49. With most of the serviceable 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 appearance.
Once inside the Top Shed, a further rolling stock lineup included the Access Trailer No.56, Diesel Locomotive No.34 and long withdrawn Ratchet Cars Nos. 15 and 17. The tours then continued to the Bottom Sheds, initially visiting the Hospital Roads site where ‘Paddlebox’ Car No.16 was undergoing attention to ready her for the Friday night’s ‘Power Trip’. Participants were able to see directly how a M.E.R Car is maintained, with the motor being lifted into place and tested as the tours were taking place. For the first time. clear photographs were also available of stored trailers No.36 and No.55, usually either blocked in by other rolling stock!
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.
The tours concluded inside the newly established Manx Electric Railway Museum, located in the Derby Castle Goods Shed. On display were number boards from the past, advertising materials and hoardings from the 1930s onwards, historical pictures and interpretation boards for the M.E.R throughout it’s history. In addition, curator Norman Dowd was on hand to talk about the museum and it’s activities.
All 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 tours and all the photographers and enthusiasts who took part.