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Images from 'ManxElectricRailway'
  “The matching view of winter saloon 19 and trailer 41 shows the same tram at the same
place doing the same job half a century later. ” Manx Electric Railway; past & present page 56
 
 
Detective work
  Photo from Manx Electric Railway  
  There are lots of books about the Manx Electric Railway (MER) and we were reluctant to clutter up enthusiasts’ shelves with another one unless we could offer something a bit different. Then George Hobbs was loaned some archive photographs of the MER and invited to ‘put them in a book. Somehow.’  
  The photographs were fascinating and we pored over them commenting on all the things which had changed – and a few which hadn’t. Then we realised that what was really interesting was not just the photographs but how they compared with the same view today. People had commented on how much they liked the ‘past and present’ aspect of one of George’s other books, and the shape of the book was born.  
  We had a problem though. While the old photographs were, almost without exception, of good quality and rare, many of them were badly recorded. Often labels were missing and those that existed were occasionally wrong. One we thought was at Dhoon Quarry was actually next to Laxey car sheds but taken from an unusual angle. Another one had been labelled Dreemskerry Quarry but was really at Dhoon (see above). One was recorded as Corkill’s Crossing and actually was at Corkill’s but the background had changed so much we had trouble believing it.  
  Slowly we worked out what was where and George put in a huge amount of legwork, popping up trackside to take the matching shots.
  Some enthusiasts grumble that the MER isn’t what it used to be. This book shows that that’s true. In some cases it’s better…
  Manx Electric Railway; past & present
The Manx Electric Railway may look as though
it is set in a time warp, but that is not so. Like most things it has had to adapt to survive.

images from the book 'Manx Electric Railway'

Some things have long gone. The huge iron
shelter at Derby Castle was used by passengers
for horse and electric trams, but was removed
in 1980. The experimental building which was
Summerland was lost to Britain’s worst peace-time
fire in 1973. The White City amusement park was
closed in 1985 and its rides demolished; houses
stand on the site now. The Garwick Glen station
has since the 1950s vanished almost without
trace under the encroaching trees.
Photographs of them all, and of what replaced
them, are included in the book. Wherever possible
the photographer has tried to match the location
exactly. Occasionally an exact match has not been
possible. In the past, photographers and, it has
to be said, the tramway itself, took a much more
relaxed attitude towards railway property.
Nowadays trespassing is frowned on and rightly
so. Even so, the changes are sometimes startling.

images from the book 'Manx Electric Railway'
images from the book 'Manx Electric Railway'

Memories are short and people often forget how
things were, even though they might once have
seen them every day. The old photographs in the
book are reminders of what was familiar while their
modern counterparts show how much – or how
little – has changed. Through all the vicissitudes –
political, social, economic and ecological – the old
trams trundle up and down doing the job they were
built for. Long may it be so.

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