The Isle of Man’s horse tram service has been discontinued by Douglas Borough Council.

Douglas Bay Horse Tramway had been in operation since 1876 and prior to its closure at the start of the year, was the oldest remaining horse-drawn tram service in the world.

A petition has been launched by Friends of Douglas Bay Horse Tramway to reinstate the historical service and it has already reached nearly 3,000 signatures.

tram feature iom

2016 would have been their 140th anniversary

“It has been a bit out of the blue,” said Stuart Mullan of the Friends of Douglas Bay Horse Tramway.

“We have received a lot of support from all over the UK and around the world. The petition is helping to raise awareness and shows there really is a desire for the service.

“We really hope there is something we can do to save it.”

The tram service has 22 horses — 16 are used to operate the trams and the remaining younsters are in training.

The fates of the horses, who are currently on their winter break, and 24 original tramcars are yet to be determined. The Victorian stables and tramcar depot are to be sold off for re-development.

“Financial burden”

Douglas Borough Council cited “increased financial burden” as reason for stopping the service.

The tram horses enjoy ploughing matches during their winter break

The horses enjoy ploughing matches in winter

“It is with very great regret, following detailed discussions and meetings, that Douglas Borough Council is to discontinue the Douglas horse tram service,” said a council spokesman.

“Key factors determining the resolution to end the service were its year-on-year deficit, currently running at £263,000, coupled with the associated loan charge, equating to an annual impact on the rates of over £420,000.”

Council leader David Christian added: “To continue operating the horse tram service would place an unacceptable level of burden on the ratepayer”.

Sign the petition