The International Steam Pages


The Snaefell Mountain Railway in 1968

James Waite writes:

The Snaefell Mountain Raiwlay is a 1067mm (3' 6") gauge electrified railway which runs from Laxey to the top of Snaefell. It nominally uses the unusual Fell system - a central rail which can be gripped to assist climbing or braking on a steep mountain line, in this case it was only ever used for braking.

Superficially the line looks much the same now (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snaefell_Mountain_Railway) though there have in fact been quite a lot of changes. The railway acquired a modern rheostatic braking system which largely rendered the Fell rail redundant in 1970. This involves quite a lot of 'gubbins' along the top of the clerestories of the cars and the large advertising boards went to make room for it. The railway has always had just 6 passenger cars dating from the lines opening in 1895.

Car no. 5 was burned out in 1970 and the current version is effectively a replacement. 

This shows the service stock round the back of Laxey depot. The dilapidated car in the foreground is no. 7, built with the six passenger cars in 1895 and used to carry coal to a power station near Bungalow station, two thirds of the way up the line. It never had its own power bogies and borrowed bogies from one of the passenger cars when in use. It was eventually reckoned to be beyond repair and scrapped. Later on the railway must have regretted this as they built a replica which now runs on the Manx Electric.

This shows the two Wickham cars at their shed at Laxey which were used in connection with a weather station on the mountain. They are 5864/1951 in the foreground and 7642/1957 in the shed. They've both moved on and more modern cars have taken their place. 5864 is now privately preserved in the UK and 7642 was returned to the makers and may now be in South Africa.


Rob Dickinson

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