About the Trust

Queens Promenade, Douglas (c.1910)

We're a support charity

Douglas Bay Tramway Heritage Trust is an independent charity helping to promote and support the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway, its draught horses and its historic tramcars.

Our focus is the advancement of education through heritage conservation. Some of the ways in which education may be 'advanced' in the context of the operation of an historic horse tramway are set out below.

We raise our charity funds through a variety of means which may include public donation appeals, fundraising events, applications to grant-giving bodies, and the sale of educational publications and other merchandise.

The Heritage Trust is registered as a charity (No.1238) in the Isle of Man, our activities are monitored and regulated by the Office of Her Majesty's Attorney General for the Isle of Man. You can check our charity status on the Isle of Man Government's website.

'Toastrack' No.12 with now-retired Mark at Derby Castle (2016)

Our aims and objectives

The upkeep and welfare of the tram horses and the operation and maintenance of the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway are publicly funded by the Isle of Man Government in support of the Island's heritage and tourism offering.

The Heritage Trust raises separate charitable funds to support education and conservation initiatives related to the Horse Tramway, its draught horses and its historic tramcars. Our aims and objectives are to help:

  • increase public interest in and knowledge about the Horse Tramway and the use of horses as working animals in transport, industry and agriculture;

  • develop and maintain learning opportunities with both the operation of the Horse Tramway and the participation of Tram Horses in traditional draught horse events and activities;

  • conserve for public benefit items connected with the Horse Tramway which are of historical, architectural, engineering, scientific or cultural value;

  • make the operation of the Horse Tramway as a heritage transport service sustainable for the longer term through increased appreciation, visitor appeal and revenue.

If you support our aims and objectives and would like to help us with a donation, please visit our Make a Donation page for information on how you can donate.

'Trammers' participating in vintage ploughing events (2018)
Restoring tramcars with traditional crafts and skills (2018)

Advancing education

The continuing operation of the Horse Tramway and its associated transport stables allows the public to experience, first hand, the real-life workings of the earliest form of urban mass-public transit system: the horse-drawn urban street tramway.

The public are able to:

  • travel on Victorian & Edwardian era horse-drawn tramcars in an urban street environment;

  • access and explore the still-in-use historic transport stables;

  • meet and interact with a large number of draught horses;

  • view interpreted tramway artefacts on display;

  • see traditional crafts and skills being applied and demonstrated;

  • learn about the history and operation of the Horse Tramway, the development of the horse-drawn tramcar and the use of horses as working animals.

It also helps to preserve the traditional crafts and skills necessary for the operation of a horse tramway with vintage wooden-bodied tramcars and for the care and working of heavy draught horses.

The participation of the Tram Horses in traditional draught horse events and activities like agricultural shows and field ploughing serves to further educate the public about specific draught horse breeds and their handling, historical uses and conservation.

Visitor & Journey Guide (2020)

Initiatives supported by us

The Heritage Trust is pleased to have supported a number of education and conservation initiatives to date including:

  • free Tramway Visitor & Journey Guide leaflets

  • individual Tram Horse profile information panels for the Stables

  • Clydesdale and Shire Horse breed information panels for the Stables

  • exercise and training saddles

  • promotional banners for the Tram Horses when attending agricultural shows and events

  • horse cooler rugs

  • leaflet holders and dispensers

The southern extent of the tramway at the Sea Terminal (2018)

What makes a Heritage Railway?

A 'heritage railway' is a working railway or tramway that demonstrates or operates historical types of motive power and rolling stock and retains, assumes or re-creates the character, appearance and operating practices of a railway or tramway of former times.

Much of the rolling stock and other equipment used on heritage railways is original and is of historic value in its own right. Most heritage railways make use of historic railway or tramway sites or formations.

Some heritage railways operate as profitable visitor attractions, or provide viable alternative public-transit options with or without government subsidy. Most are run as not-for-dividend visitor attractions and educational experiences, often requiring financial and other assistance from support groups, volunteer workers, individual benefactors, associated charity organisations and grant-giving bodies.

Douglas Bay Horse Tramway is unusual in that it is publicly owned, operated and funded by the Isle of Man Government with additional support provided by volunteers and an associated charity body.