Douglas Bay Trammers
Douglas Bay Trammers are the large team of magnificent draught horses employed by the Tramway to operate its heritage transport service along the Douglas Promenades.
Clydesdale and Shire horses, pure and crossbred, are well suited to pulling horse trams with their immense power, large round feet and generally good temperament.
There are more than twenty of these and other draught horses presently with the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway. They also attend agricultural shows and compete in horse shows and ploughing matches on the Island.
Trammers typically work until an average age of 20, and then retire to the IOM Home of Rest for Old Horses.
Historically, the majority of tram horses were purchased by the Tramway from Ireland, a mix of cob and farm breeds, old enough to put in harness after brief training and with a working life of perhaps eight years before being sold on to local farms or re-exported.
A mare called Polly, bought from Ireland, had presented the then operator Douglas Corporation with a foal named Ramsey in 1966.
Due to significant cost rises for good horses in the early 1970's, the Corporation decided to commence its own breeding programme, the first foal being born in 1974.
The breeding programme continued through until the 1990's. Mark & Robert who retired at the end of the 2017 season were the last in-service trammers to be bred by the Corporation.
From the late 1990's until 2018, the tram horses were purchased mainly from the Garff - Ballafayle Stud near Ramsey and have been either of Clydesdale or Shire horse breeds.
More recently we have seen the re-introduction of cob-cross breeds and horses being purchased from the UK.
A new in-house breeding programme has been trialled by the Tramway with its Clydesdale mares and a young Welsh Cob stallion Thor, the first foals being born in 2020 (Emma to Ginger and Hector to Mary) and a second group in 2021 (Annabelle to Elodie, David to Dixie and Riley to Zeba).
The current trammers are Alec, Andrew, Bobby, Chloe, Douglas, Harry, Keith, Kewin, Nelson, Torrin & William.
The tallest is Andrew, the heaviest is Alec, the fastest is Kewin, the youngest is Nelson.
Horses to continue their training as future 'trammers' include mares Annie, Blae, Dixie, Elodie, Ginger, Mary, Erin, Zeba & Maggie, geldings Duke & Jackson, and the stallion Thor.
Rare Breeds on parade!
Robin, Bobby, Torrin & Harry at the 2015 Royal Manx Agricultural Show.
Working roles for heavy draught horses not only helps to maintain their health and fitness, it forms an important part of their breed conservation.
Clydesdales and Shire horses are on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust watchlist as 'at risk' breeds.
For further information about Clydesdale and Shire horse breeds, call in to the Tramway Stables to view the information panels and speak to the staff.