The Really BIG Surprise


Tram Tales of the Manx Electric Railway 3

Written by Sara Goodwins

Sven the Number Seven tries to discover what the trams’ big birthday surprise is. For children aged 5-8 (and all tram enthusiasts).

“Rose was right. She couldn’t be the Big Surprise if everyone knew about her visit. Perhaps Douglas is the surprise, he thought. Sven didn’t speak Horse very well, but he had a go.”

The Really BIG Surprise, page 15

The third book about the adventures of the trams of the Manx Electric Railway (MER).

The railway was 125 years old on 7 September 2018, and still operates with its original rolling stock. Of course, the trams are looking forward to their birthday party. There’s going to be a Really BIG Surprise, but no-one knows what it is.

Sven is the Number Seven, a tunnel car, and the MER’s only blue tram at the moment. He is just as excited as all his friends by the thought of a surprise and tries to find out what it is. He meets Rose, from the Douglas Bay Tramway, who is visiting the MER with her horse, Douglas, but they can’t be the really big surprise because everyone knows about them. He tries asking his crew, but they won't tell him and none of the other trams know either.

Eventually they all have to wait until the birthday arrives and the surprise is unveiled… Most of the events described in the book actually happened. Tram Number 1 from the Douglas Bay Tramway did visit the MER's rails as a special event during the birthday celebrations. It was the first time any tram had been pulled by horse along the electric line. And the Really BIG Surprise? Read the book and find out!

From the Publisher

How do we choose which trams to write about?

The trams of the MER can be divided into roughly three groups. (Knowledgeable enthusiasts should look away at this point!)

The 'winter saloons' do the most work and are like decorated boxes on wheels. Despite their name they are used whenever the railway is operating as they can carry the most passengers and are enclosed so don't let the rain in. Twain, Number 22 and the star of the first of our tram tales, Something on the Line, is a winter saloon.

Then there are the ‘open motors’, which have seats and tops but no sides, where passengers sit almost in the open air. They are great fun, but the Manx weather doesn’t encourage their frequent use. (The island does get quite a lot of wind and rain.) For obvious reasons open motors are sometimes called ‘toast racks’, and look a little like trailers but have their own motive power. Pam, Number 16, is an open motor and starred in Stick to Safety.

The third group is what is known as ‘tunnel cars’. They’re called that because, originally, their seats ran the length of the tram on either side, so their passengers faced inwards. Two still have their original seats, while the seats of the other two, Sven the Number 7 among them, have been changed so that the passengers face forward. Also enclosed, tunnel cars are slightly narrower than the winter saloons and so can’t carry as many passengers. We chose tunnel car Sven to star in this, our third Tram Tale as he is the only MER tram currently painted blue.

Each of the groups can be subdivided further, and tramcars 1 and 2 (Derby and Joan to us) are different again, but we hope that our books introduce the reader to the main types of MER tram.

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