Two Fish for the Summit: Life and Work on the Manx Mountain


Written by Sara Goodwins

The background to all that happens on Snaefell

“We’ve had some funny things happen too, nice things. We had a group of about twelve on their holidays, and they came up here and the weather was diabolical. They’d come up to see the view and could barely see the tram for the rain! So they had a sing-song in here instead. It was great; it went on for about an hour.”

Two Fish for the Summit, page 22

ISBN: 978-1-908060-17-4 Categories: ,

Almost everyone who visits the Isle of Man goes to the top of Snaefell on the Victorian Railway. Yet few people who arrive there realise the logistical challenges (and pitfalls!) which have to be met and solved on a daily basis.

For example, there is no road access, so everything has to be transported either by foot or on the Victorian railway. Winds can top 100mph, particularly in winter, so the radio masts and air traffic control equipment must be built and maintained to withstand the rigours of the weather. The Summit Hotel is so remote it has its own water purification and sewage system.

It takes a team of backstage professionals to organise catering, ensure the Victorian trams are working safely and kept in good condition, maintain communication equipment, and do it all within the constraints of the ever-changing weather.

And then of course, there's the sheep farming, leisure activities, rare flora and fauna to say nothing of the stupendous view. It's said, on a good day, that you can see seven kingdoms from the summit of Snaefell: the Isle of Man (of course), Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, the Kingdom of Heaven, and the sea, which is Neptune's kingdom.

Containing everything from archive photographs to background details of how equipment is maintained on a site with no road access, Two Fish for the Summit provides a fascinating insight into life and work on Snaefell.

What about that title?

All our books have working titles; quick phrases which we use just to distinguish which book we're working on. The title for this one was the less than snappy 'Snaefell book'.

Obviously, we couldn't use that as the real title, but we've found that many of our publications name themselves. In other words something crops up which suggests itself as the perfect title. Two Fish for the Summit was no exception.

Part of the preparation work for the book was to talk to a lot of people involved in the day-to-day running of the various things which happen on the mountain. We were interviewing the Bungalow Station Master - Bungalow is the only stop for the tramway on the way up the mountain - when a call came over the radio, 'two fish for the summit'.

It caused a lot of laughter, but afterwards we thought that it encapsulated quite neatly the variety of sometimes odd things which happen on Snaefell. What it was all about was that the Summit Hotel had ordered some fish for an evening dinner event. The fish had duly been carried on the Manx Electric Railway to Laxey and then been transferred onto the Snaefell Mountain Railway for the final leg of its journey. The station master at Laxey was informing the summit that said fish were on their way. And everything which goes up Snaefell has to be either carried by foot or transported on the Victorian railway as there's no other way up the mountain beyond Bungalow.

Of course, we had to have the sub-title 'Life and Work on the Manx Mountain' in case prospective readers thought the book was about trout fishing


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