Isle of Man News - POSTED Wed 19-04-2017

Isle of Man Festival of Steam update

by LC

Last week saw a very promising start to the Isle of Man Festival of Steam with record numbers tourists and residents alike getting involved with the unique events. These events included the Vintage Bus Tours, Dinning Car Easter Sunday Lunch, Douglas Bay House Tram, Double Decker Horse Tram pulled by pair of horses and Motor Man taster lessons to name a few.

If you have not had chance to go on any of the popular events, fear not. There is still an action packed week ahead. The climax of the festival will provide one of the most, if not the most, dramatic visual experience of steam powered heavy haulage to be seen on public roads for many years when a road train consisting of three iconic Fowler road locomotives will haul one of the Isle of Man Steam Railway locomotives No.8 ‘Fenella’ on the Great Dorset Twin Bogie Trailer around some of the steepest and most challenging roads on the Island.

Steam Car Tour – Monday 17th April to Thursday 20th April

The Isle of Man and motorcycle racing are synonymous with each other throughout the world; but, the racing story actually began with motor cars.  In 1904 a White Steamer was imported to the Island.  A year later, the very first Tourist Trophy race was held and at the time motorcycles did not feature in the event, only cars.  Entrants included both White and Turner-Miesse steamers, in fact it was recorded that the American driver of one of the White steamers, Frederick Coleman, was fined £2 for speeding.  Not only was the first car on Manx roads a steamer, it also seems likely that the first person to hold the historical distinction of being caught speeding in a motor car on the Island was a steam car driver!

Throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s Light Steam Power Magazine was published and distributed worldwide by Mr John Walton of the Kirk Michael Steam Centre. The publication is still regarded as containing some of the finest reference material regarding steam cars.

Today, the Isle of Man Motor Museum at Jurby houses steam cars from Stanley, White, Turner-Miesse, Serpollet and is currently restoring an example of the iconic Abner Doble’s work. The museum’s steam collection is maintained by well-respected steam engineer Chris Wedgwood and also features his “under construction” steam motorbike. Once completed, an attempt will be made to break the land speed record for such a machine.

As part of the Isle of Man Festival of Steam, the Motor Museum will be hosting the steam car tour.  To be staged over four days, the tour routes will start and conclude at the museum and traverse roads through some of the most beautiful scenery on the Island.

Participants already confirmed are bringing cars from across Europe and even as far afield as the USA, ranging in age from the turn of the twentieth century through to the 1920s. Visitors will be able to see the cars being fired up each morning at the Motor Museum and at the scheduled coffee and lunch stops in some of the Islands most picturesque locations.  This will give a rare opportunity to meet and chat with the owners and drivers as well as to see the cars in action on the open roads.

Potential participants should contact the Isle of Man Motor Museum to receive entry information; Telephone – 01624 888333; email steam@isleofmanmotormuseum.com or by visiting the website www.isleofmanmotormuseum.com/steam2017/

Heavy Haulage – Thursday 20th April to Sunday 23rd April

The Isle of Man Festival of Steam 2017 will climax with one of the most dramatic heavy haulage events to be seen on public roads for many years. A road train consisting of three iconic Fowler road locomotives - Atlas, The Duke of York and The Great North will haul the Great Dorset Steam Fair twin bogie trailer, carrying Isle of Man Railways ‘Fenella’. The road train will be assembled in Douglas before beginning a four day journey around the Island.

On the Thursday following Easter, the road train will assemble at Douglas Railway Station, travel north along the promenade and then closely follow the Manx Electric Railway line from Derby Castle, through Laxey and Maughold to Ramsey where it will head inland to the Isle of Man Motor Museum.  Arrival at the museum will coincide with the conclusion of the steam car tour with all the cars being present as the road train arrives.

On Friday, the road train will depart from the Motor Museum and head south to join the world famous TT circuit at the Ginger Hall, continuing through Ramsey and then onwards to Douglas via Snaefell Mountain and the daunting Mountain Road. This will involve a climb of 1800 feet between Ramsey and the road’s summit and a crossing of the Snaefell Mountain Railway’s line at the Bungalow. Progress will be somewhat slower than the 200mph achieved by riders in the TT Races!  Following descent of the Mountain Road, the road train will continue to Port Erin Railway Station in the south of the Island. 

A vintage bus will shadow the road train on Thursday and Friday giving unique photographic opportunities as the bus repeatedly stops and overtakes the ensemble. As travel on the vintage bus will be limited, advanced booking is recommended book online at www.rail.im or via the Welcome Centre 01624 662525

On Saturday, the engines will be displayed at Port Erin Railway Station, allowing visitors an opportunity to get up close to the engines and talk to their drivers and crew.

Sunday will feature the ultimate highlight of the entire event, with the road train returning to Douglas over the challenging Sloc Road. Similar to the Horse Shoe Pass in Llangollen, the narrow Sloc Road twists and climbs over 1000 feet in just five miles with spectacular views across the south of the Island. This section of Sunday’s journey will be subject to a road closure and transport to viewing areas will once again be provided by bus. Advance booking is highly recommended and tickets are available from www.rail.im or The Welcome Centre on 01624 662525. Without doubt, the engines will have to work extremely hard to climb the steep gradients, providing a real spectacle which will be recalled for many years to come.

Throughout the Festival, Isle of Man Railways is offering dining experiences both in the Dining Car on the Steam Railway and Summit Dining at the top of the Snaefell Mountain Railway. Ultimate Driving Experiences on both the Electric Railway and the Steam Railway are also available. For full details and tickets, please visit www.rail.im.

The Isle of Man Festival of Steam 2017 is being supported by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.  A special holiday package is available for visitors, which includes ferry crossing, accommodation, entrance to the Isle of Man Motor Museum and travel on Isle of Man Transport rail and bus services. Further details are available from www.steampacketholidays.com. The kind support of the Isle of Man Steam Packet is gratefully acknowledged. 

All information correct at time of printing. Events will be subject to operational constraints and availability.

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