Introduction...

Founded by Yorkshire-born engineer Thomas Lightfoot in 1876, Douglas Bay Horse Tramway is the oldest horse-drawn passenger tramway to remain in service anywhere in the World.


History & Heritage...

Tramcar No.2 at the Broadway / Iron Pier Passing Loop (1877)
Photo: MNH i-museum
The Horse Tramway provides both an unique visitor experience and a heritage transport service along the busy seafront promenades of Douglas, capital of the Isle of Man, a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The Tramway retains thirteen of its original Victorian and Edwardian tramcars with which to operate the service, a selection of open-sided roofed and un-roofed cross-bench cars, enclosed saloons and a double-decker.

Built between 1883 and 1913, the historic tramcars afford today's visitors the opportunity to experience the first form of mass urban public transit, pre-dating the arrival of electric trams in the World.




Tramway Stables & Trammers...

The Tramway's original stables complex dating back to 1877 is a listed building and still used today to accommodate the large team of draught horses. Located off Queen's Promenade at the junction with Summer Hill, the Tramway Stables are open to the public when the Tramway is operating.

Visitors can explore the stables, meet the Clydesdale and Shire draught horses, learn about their lives and discover the full story of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway.  Guided "Meet the Trammers" tours of the stables are available on selected dates throughout the season led by knowledgeable volunteer guides.  

Clydesdales and Shires are well suited to pulling horse trams, there are more than twenty-five of these heavy draught horses with the Tramway. Historically known as 'trammers', a number of these rare breed horses attend Summer agricultural shows and compete in Winter ploughing matches on the Island to promote their breed conservation and heritage.



A 21st Century Renaissance...

Significant investment is being made by the Isle of Man Government in the development of the Horse Tramway as a heritage visitor attraction which will in time see:
  • the track replaced as part of the Douglas Promenades Refurbishment Scheme;
  • a new tramcar storage shed built at the Derby Castle northern terminus with a facade similar in style to the original shed c.1902;
  • the museum set and service fleet tramcars restored;
  • the stabling facilities refurbished; and
  • 21st Century amenities provided for both staff and the visiting public.


Ownership & Operation...

From 1902 until 2015, the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway was owned and operated by local government Douglas Borough Council (formerly Douglas Corporation).

The Horse Tramway was taken over by the Isle of Man Government in 2016 and is now operated as a subsidised heritage transport service and visitor experience by Isle of Man Transport (a division of the Department of Infrastructure), with additional support from volunteers and the third sector.

The small retail shop within the Tramway Stables is also run by Isle of Man Transport, which receives all of the proceeds from items purchased in the shop.