Tramcar Fleet

A total of fifty-one tramcars have operated on the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway since its opening in 1876.

We are fortunate in that some twenty-four of those cars, in both original and converted form, have survived to the present day, although many are now in private ownership and some of those sadly in very poor condition.

When the Isle of Man Government took over the horse tram service in 2016, it acquired thirteen of the historic tramcars for future service on the Tramway.

The tramcar fleet today is representative of the surviving historical design types of cars which have operated on the Douglas Bay Horse TramwayTap the tramcar numbers to view their profiles.

World Record Holders

Toastrack no.21 (built in 1890 by G F Milnes & Co of Birkenhead) is the oldest tramcar in the World still working on its original line.

Toastrack no.12 (built in 1888 also by G F Milnes & Co of Birkenhead) will take that honour when it has been refurbished and is available for service.

Double-deckers nos. 14 and 18 were both acquired second hand in 1887, but actually were built in 1883 and therefore are the oldest two surviving tramcars on the Island.

No.14 is on display in the Manx Museum and remains in near original form, whereas no.18 is still in service having been converted into a single deck saloon in 1903 and then back to a double-decker in 1988!

Winter Saloon car no. 1 is a later replacement of the 1876 original and dates from 1913, built by G.C. Milnes, Voss & Co of Birkenhead.

All the other remaining tramcars are centenarians, built between 1888 and 1911, making them by far the largest and most historic collection of original horse-drawn tramcars in the world.

Since the Horse Tramway operation was taken over by the Isle of Man Government in 2016, it has completed the refurbishment of Double-decker no.18 and the full restorations of Sunshade no.36, Long Toastracks No.21 and no.42, Bulkhead no.45, and Saloons no.27 and no.29.

Oldest & Youngest Tramcars

The oldest surviving tramcar bought new for the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway is 'Toastrack' no. 11, built in 1886 by the Starbuck Car & Wagon Co of Birkenhead. It is now in the care of the Wirral Transport Museum in Birkenhead, where plans are being developed for its restoration for future display.

The youngest surviving tramcar, albeit in very poor condition, is a more 'modern' all-weather convertible no.49, which was built in 1935 by Vulcan Motor & Engineering Co of Southport. It is privately owned and currently stored in Ramsey.

Click on the link to view / download our Douglas Bay Horse Tramway - Historic Tramcar Listing in PDF format. 

Tramcar Designs


Image courtesy Manx National Heritage iMuseum (

'Toastracks' first arrived in 1884 and eventually became the most numerous type of tramcar on the Horse Tramway. Open to the elements on the sides and ends, when delivered they all had eight cross-benches with flip-over seat backs.

The outermost two benches have tall upright fixing posts onto which were mounted metal over-arch brackets with oil lamps suspended centrally, as seen preserved on no.12 today. The lamps and brackets later gave way to arched wooden advert boards.

The tramcar design reminded visitors of the toast caddies on their B&B guest house breakfast tables, hence the 'Toastrack' nickname which has stuck since Victorian times. 

Long Toastracks

Image courtesy Manx National Heritage iMuseum (

Douglas Corporation extended the length of a number of 'Toastracks' in the 1930s to increase their seating capacity from 32 to 40, adding two extra cross-benches.

'Long Toastracks' nos.21, 38, 39 & 42 remain with the Tramway fleet, noticeably long in appearance and tending to bow towards each end. 

Canvas Roofed Toastracks

Image courtesy Manx National Heritage iMuseum (

Three 'Toastracks' (no.22 to 24) were modified by Douglas Corporation in 1908/9 by fitting ridge-mounted retractable canvas roof blinds to add a modicum of protection from the Manx summer sunshine when needed! They were subsequently fitted with fixed canvas pitched roofs in the 1920s.

These are 'Canvas Roofed Toastracks', no.22 survives at the Jurby Transport Museum, albeit further converted during the 1970s into a mobile souvenir shop for the Tramway. 


Six 'Sunshades' (no.32 to no.37) arrived in 1896, originally open on the sides and ends like the early 'Toastracks' and with the same 32 seat capacity, but with a lightweightb boarded roof affixed onto eight upright posts (four each side) and delicately curved roof eavesboards.

No.36 was lengthened in 1908 with the addition of two extra cross-benches and fitted with glazed bulkheads at each end to create segregated driver space. The other five 'Sunshades' had similar glazed bulkheads fitted in the 1960's.

All but one (no.35) of the 'Sunshades' survive to date. No.36 is in service with the Tramway having been fully restored in 2017.  No.32 is in the process of a full restoration.  


Five 'Bulkhead' tramcars (no.43 to no.47) were delivered to the tramway between 1907 and 1911, a heavier design of tramcar with 40 seat capacity from the outset, still with cross benches and open on the sides, but with glazed bulkheads at each end to segregate the driver space and a boarded roof affixed onto sixteen upright posts (eight each side).

When delivered, these tramcars also had canvas roller blinds fitted between the upright posts on each side, affording protection for the interior of the tramcar when not in operation. The upright posts had machined grooves which assisted in securing the roller blinds, a feature omitted on no.45 when it was restored for service.  

The number of upright posts is the most discernible difference between the 'Bulkheads' (8 posts each side) and the 'Sunshades' (4 posts each side) seen in service today.


Image courtesy Manx National Heritage iMuseum (

The last tramcars to be purchased were the 'Convertibles' (no.48 to no.50), a set of three built with steel underframes, removable glazed side shutters which could be stored onboard the tram, and cross bench seats which could be extended outwards when the side shutters were not in place.

These were noticeably rectangular in profile and became known as the 'Tomato Boxes'.


The first two double-deck cars (no.2 & no.3) were purchased for the opening of the tramway in 1876 which initially had 32-seat capacity. Three more cars to similar design (but fitted with quarter turn stairs) were purchased in 1882 (no.4) and 1883 (no.5 & no.6), followed by two more built to a lengthened design in 1884 with 36-seat capacity (no.7 & no.8).  These early cars were modified by the Tramway: no.2 & no.3 with the fitting of quarter-turn stairs, all with the fitting of leathercloth screens and extended dash panels on the end platforms to allow additional seating under the stairs and boarding at each end from one side only, as seen in the photo above.

In 1887 the tramway purchased six larger double-deck cars (no.13 to no.18) second-hand from the South Shields Tramway. These were of 42-seat capacity (later 44-seat).

Sadly none of the original double-deckers have survived, being scrapped between 1948 and 1949 (no.7 in 1924).  But two of the later larger double-deckers have survived - no.14 is on display in the Manx Museum; no.18 is still in service on the tramway.