The world’s oldest remaining horse-drawn tram service has been temporarily saved.

Douglas Borough Council discontinued the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway at the start of the year, citing it as an “increasing financial burden”.

The Isle of Man service had been in operation since 1876 and was the oldest remaining horse-drawn tram service in the world.

A petition was launched by Friends of Douglas Bay Horse Tramway to reinstate the historical service and it has reached over 4,000 signatures.

On 24 March, the government’s department of infrastructure announced it would fund the tram service between April and September this year.

Additional support will be provided by the department of economic development, Manx National Heritage and Culture Vannin.

The temporary solution will allow discussions to continue about the possibility of preserving the long-term future of the trams.

“I am delighted that many different parties have been able to work together to secure a temporary reprieve for the horse trams, especially as 2016 marks the 140th anniversary of the service,” said infrastructure minister Phil Gawne.

“The horse trams are an important visitor attraction and an iconic part of the Isle of Man’s cultural heritage.”

He added “substantial” investment in new track and buildings is needed if the trams are to continue in the years ahead. Planning approval for a new route for the tracks would also be required.


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A spokesman from the Friends of Douglas Bay Horse Tramway added: “We would like to thank everyone who has been involved with the work that has taken place to ensure a service will operate this summer.

“There is still a long way to go before the long-term future of the tramway is secure. Making this season is a success will be paramount in achieving that.”