As part of the March 2016 Rush Hour Event, shed tours of the Derby Castle Car Sheds were undertaken on the 25th of March. 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. This year, tours focused on the restoration, repaints and repairs undertaken on the Cars and Trailers during the Winter of 2015.
Four 50-minute tours were operated during the course of the day. Tour participants were greeted by the entrance to the Manx Electric Railway Museum, now in it’s third year of operation. On arrival, groups were taken into the top yard area, where 1904-built Car No.29, last operated in service in 1979, had been pulled out of the shed for display and photography, alongside Cars No.6, attached to Trailer No.59, Car No. 16, attached to Trailer No.60, and Car No.20. Car No.29 was used to demonstrate to participants the condition Car No.14 was in before restoration commenced last year. Participants were also guided into Top Shed itself in order to view the repaints of Trailers No. 41 & 43, along with partial repaints and the newly applied M.E.R crests on the other Trailers in the operational fleet. The tour then continued onto the Service Roads of Top Shed, where Depot Supervisor Steve Hall spoke about the day-to-day maintenance of the Cars, with No.5 and No.21 under maintenance during the tours.
The tour participants were then taken towards the Bottom Sheds, where 1894-built Tunnel Cars No.7 and No.9 had been brought outside for photography. This was the first public viewing of the nearly completed repaint of Car No.7, showing the excellent condition a restored Car is out-shopped and maintained in. Participants were then shown the ongoing restoration work on ‘Ratchet’ Car No.14, with members of the restoration team on hand to discuss the restoration. Items on display here also included spare motors, with the Railway’s electrical apprentices providing a detailed talk on the maintenance and repair of the electric motors that power the Cars.
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 and the old and new Derby Castle substations. The tours concluded inside the 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, along with many other historical artefacts.
All four 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.