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Images from 'By Whing to Port Soderick'
  “In its prime Port Soderick had a camera obscura, a pub, cafés and numerous stalls including an unusual attraction in the form of the padded cell reputed to be from the hospital of the ship Olympic, a sister ship of the Titanic. ” By Whing to Port Soderick page 48  
 
Past and present
  Cliffside photo  
  With a book like By Whing to Port
Soderick
it’s difficult to get across
to people who don’t know the area
the huge difference three-quarters
of a century makes.
 
  When the tramway was running,
the Marine Drive was a tourist hot spot. The Isle of Man was an extremely popular tourist destination and played host to thousands of holidaymakers from the mills of northern England. Boats filled with pleasure seekers landed at Douglas, their passengers looking for fun and excitement. With its tramway, pleasant walks, tourist sideshows and majestic scenery the Marine Drive provided just that.
 
  The pleasant walks and majestic scenery are still there but virtually everything else has disappeared – including most of the people. Imagine Disneyland… gone.  
  Today the Marine Drive is a beautiful
but very quiet walk. Even the word
‘drive’ is something of a misnomer
as cliff falls mean that it’s only
a through route to walkers and cyclists. The biggest excitement for visitors is to see seals, basking shark and the occasional whale. It’s still well worth a visit, but not for the same reasons as a hundred years ago.
  By Whing to Port Soderick
One of the well-kept secrets of the Isle of Man
is the tarmaced road clinging to the cliffs between
the capital Douglas and the small cove which is
Port Soderick three miles to the south. Despite
appearances it is not a through route for vehicles,
as the cliffs have fallen into the sea part way along, leaving only room for walkers and cyclists to pass safely. Offering breathtaking views of sea and seals, the road is peaceful and remote.

photo from the book 'By Whing to Port Soderick'

It comes as quite a shock therefore to learn that this
pedestrian walkway played a major part not only
in the Manx tourist industry, but also in the history
of transport. The Marine Drive tramway or, to give
it its official title, the Douglas Southern Electric Tramway, opened as a tourist railway before many places had electricity, never mind tramways
(or even tourists).

photo from the book 'By Whing to Port Soderick'

photo from the book 'By Whing to Port Soderick'
photo from the book 'By Whing to Port Soderick'

It must have been an incredible ride. An open,
double-decker tram took holiday makers around
the cliffs and thrilled them by leaping across the
sea. A huge bridge spanned sea coves along the
route. Twice. The larger of the two even had a bend in it as one of its supports was anchored to a jutting rock far below.

photo from the book 'By Whing to Port Soderick'

Sadly, apart from the walkway itself, little of the
tourist bustle now remains. The tramway, the cliff
lifts at either end, and all the attractions closed
when visitors started to flock to warmer holiday
destinations than the Isle of Man. By Whing to Port
Soderick
provides a glimpse of the fun they used
to have, and the unique place this remarkable
tramway has in transport history.

And Whing? It’s a small bay en route with some
of the highest cliffs along the line.

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