Castletown railway station
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|The Isle of Man Railway Co., Ltd.|
The Original 1874 Station Building
|Location||Station Road, Off Victoria Road, Castletown, Isle of Man, IM9 1EF.|
|Coordinates||Ordnance Survey National Grid|
|Owned by||Isle of Man Government|
Department of Infrastructure
|Line(s)||Port Erin (South) Line|
Between Douglas & Port Erin
|Platforms||Two, Raised Half-Height|
One Goods & One Livestock
|Tracks||Two Running Lines, Passing Loop|
Two Sidings (Goods & Livestock)
|Opened||1 August 1874|
|Closed||1965-1966 (Railway Closed)|
2001-2002 (Short-Line Working)
|Rebuilt||1901 - Canopy & Veranda Added|
1902 - Goods Shed Rebuilt
1910 - Livestock Platform Added
1993 - Canopy Removed
1994 - Restored & Reopened
2016 - Souvenir Shop Created
1874-Date - Passenger Traffic|
1874-1965 - Goods & Livestock
1967-1968 - Container Traffic
Patrons' Toilets, Waiting Room, Booking Facilities, Historic Displays, Railwayana Dioramas, Gift Shop
Castletown Railway Station is an intermediate station on the Isle of Man Railway on the Isle of Man forming part of sole remaining section of the once extensive network that operated across the island. The station is the busiest of the railway's intermediate stations, being the closest to a number of local visitor attractions. In peak season service trains often pass here, making the station one of the railway's more active stopping places. The station occupies a site within walking distance of the main town and is in close proximity to the local playing fields.
This is an original station on the Isle of Man Railway situated on the north-eastern edge of the town of Castletown. When the railway was first constructed the town had until ten years previously been the island's capital and therefore a substantial station was provided. Although the most extensive intermediate stopping place on the line, it remains some distance from the town itself, being a brisk ten-minute walk to the centre of the town. One of the railway's considerations was originally to terminate at this station, but plans were made to extend the line so that the terminus would be on the quayside. These never came to fruition and the site of today's station is the original one. The size of the station site and associated buildings can be attributed to the town's importance as the capital of the island and seat of parliament until 1869 when Douglas was made the capital. In the intervening time there has been much development of residential areas so that today the station is considered to be in the town itself. In more recent times the town's close proximity to the island's only airport has ensured that it remains a busy residential and commercial area, being the nearest built-up area to the runways. Until 1967 the station was the closest to the airport, but the establishment of Ronaldsway Halt in that year effectively gave a more convenient place to alight for potential commuters.
Despite the town's importance (it served as the island's capital until 1869, just five years before the railway's arrival) the railway station is some distance from the centre of the town, at the north-easterly side. The railway company considered many various alternative sites for the station before settling upon the location; a cursory view of a map of the line reveals that between the preceding station (Ballasalla) and the following one (Ballabeg) the line deviates considerably from its course. Despite this, the station has always been one of the most active on the line, providing a source of much freight and goods traffic over the years. Since the station was established the town has spread considerably to the extent that today is surrounded along one side by both residential and industrial premises, including a petrol station and car sales establishment. The main attractions of the town are a short walk from the station, an approximate five-minute walk from the station along the bank of the Silverburn River leading to the heart of the town which surrounds the inner harbour. The town itself was considered to be second only to Douglas in importance to the island; with its bustling harbour and active agricultural scene, the station's importance remained until the final days of operation with livestock being transported from the station's cattle dock (the remains of which are still visible today) until the final year the railway operated its full network in 1965, although the line did reopen to passengers only later. Close to the station are the local primary school at Victoria Road, the medical centre in the Sandfield Complex, the local Morton Hall, and Qualtrough's Timber Yard, all in walking distance.
When the line opened in 1874 this station was furnished with a stone structure built in the distinctive grey limestone found at nearby Scarlett Pointon, (the original station at Port Erin was of identical design but construction was of local slate). The floor plan was an enlarged version of the wooden buildings used elsewhere on the Port Erin Line at Santon, Ballasalla and Colby; by the turn of the century it became apparent that this was insufficient for the requirements of this busy town and the station building was enlarged in 1903 to its present design. Facilities were improved considerably and the structure housed a station master's office, toilets and general and ladies waiting rooms. This was followed by the addition of a canopy and veranda (the latter lost in 1956) to the station building in 1910 to provide additional passenger shelter.
The station was provided with a timber second class goods shed upon the opening in 1874, believed to be similar in construction to those elsewhere on the system; by the turn of the twentieth century it became apparent that the town was an important location for import of goods so, in 1902 a new stone-built structure with red brick quoins and detailing was constructed, identical to that provided at Port St. Mary. This featured rail access at both ends as well as doors at both rail and platform level and an exterior loading bank at the northern end. Until 1994 the rear siding at the station also extended far beyond its current limit, also serving the current car park and rear platform-height doors, this was removed in order to create additional car parking. This saw much use until the decline of the 1960s and later saw use as a camping hostel before returning to railway use in 2008 by which time a permanent way team were based there. Today the structure is used only for storage and is occasionally open to the public as part of railway events annually, when it is used to store goods stock and road vehicles. It became a listed structure in 2008.
Established in the earliest years of the railway, the original water tower at the station was constructed of local limestone, again quarried from nearby Scarlett Point and was fed from a well beneath it by means of a hand pump in the tank house beneath the tank itself. This was demolished in 1978 and owing to the depth of the well the majority of stonework was emptied into the hole as rubble, while some was retained to provide edging for new lawns and flower beds. It was not replaced until 1999 when the station served as a temporary terminus during short line workings. The new tank is of metal framed construction and is served by mains water; this facility is still used in conjunction with charter services, notably when No. 8 Fenella is used, having smaller side tanks which require replenishing more frequently, or when Ultimate Driving Experience trains call at the station. The current tank is sited to the south-west of the original.
The station was extensively renovated in the winter of 1993/1994. A new peaked roof was constructed over the gentlemen's toilets, and the old wooden canopy removed and window apertures converted into archways. At this time the station master's office was halved in size to create a booking hall and a new internal ticket hatch installed, the original being blocked off the waiting room was also reopened, having been closed for over 30 years. The overhauled station was reopened with suitable ceremony later that year by local politician Phil Kermode who at the time was the minister with responsibility for the railway. During the winter of 2012 the partition in the booking hall was removed, recreating the full sized office, and the fireplace reinstated; the original ticket hatch was also brought back into use. In the summer months the station building is adorned with flower baskets and period features such as milk churns (a nod to the station's former importance for handling goods and freight traffic), reproduction notice boards and enamelled signage reinstated on the exterior walls based upon period photographs. This work was carried out by the Friends Of... group.
The former goods shed exterior loading platform became the home in 1985 to the remaining component frames of the railway company's 1880 locomotive No. 7 Tynwald for display purposes, although many major components were by that time scrapped; the display consisted of the main frames, cylinders, coal bunker, with a set of carriage wheels substituting for the pony truck. The locomotive had not been used in traffic since 1947 and was purchased by the group in 1978 following the nationalisation of the railway, to save it from scrap. The frames were initially stored at Ballasalla Station, later being removed to Santon Station before being relocated here. They were owned by the now-defunct Isle Of Man Railways & Tramways Preservation Society, and for a period they were moved to off-site storage before being returned to the goods platform in the autumn of 2009 only to depart again in 2012 due to issues with railway's management and the owners. They now reside on the Southwold Railway in Suffolk and await restoration. There is currently nothing displayed on the platform although the Friends Of... group have future plans.
Also at the station, to the side of the goods shed in a gravelled raised section of the lawn is a large cast concrete Triskelion or Legs Of Mann at platform level, painted in a yellow and red colour scheme. It is believed that this piece was relocated from the long-closed stopping place at Peel Road on the Ramsey Line, and was relocated at some point prior to the closure of these other lines in 1968, and prior to 1975 when the Peel Road site was cleared. This feature originally had a gravel surround which was later replaced with grass. In 2012 the Friends Of... group restored the item, repainting it to a golden colour scheme with red gravelled surround to mimic the colourings on the national flag though it returned to its more familiar red, yellow and black setting in the spring of 2016. Originally the feature also had a large circular surround although this was beyond repair to be removed from the original site.
On the rear goods siding, one of the railway's three breakdown cranes was stored for a number of years, being removed in 1991 and subsequently restored and placed on display at Union Mills on the site of the former railway station. This crane was constructed in 1893 by the Birmingham-based firm Richard C. Gibbins. Inside the station's waiting room are several framed displays charting various historical aspects of the railway featuring old photographs, framed tickets, maps and other historical documentation relating to the earliest days of the railway. A headboard commemorating the centenary of the adjacent Poulsom Park in 1996 is also mounted on the wall above the fireplace, several other pieces of ephemera are available to view at the station. For many years, there also featured large advertisement hoardings lining the down platform but these were removed in 1974 having become unsafe. The Friends Of... group have plans to reinstate the hoarding in 2015 and have secured funding from Culture Vannin to proceed with the project subject to planning approval. An original signal windlass constructed by the Birmingham company A.J. Linley & Co., was also displayed on the up platform for many years, a similar version is extant and used to operate the unique slotted post semaphore signal which protects the station's southerly side.
To the northeasterly side of the station lies this park, provided and funded by a generous benefactor to the town and being established at around the same time as the railway and it is from this benefactor that the park takes its name; it consists of a large grassed area and is surrounded by perimeter railings within which are contained playground equipment for children and two football/rugby pitches which form the home grounds and changing rooms for the local clubs. The play equipment has been greatly improved in recent times, the standard slide and swings being replaced by a pirate ship-themed set of equipment. The park is accessed either from a wide path that passes underneath the railway at the south-western end, or via a set of steps accessed from the station platform. More recently the area has become home to a skateboard park which is viewable from the passing trains; this facility is popular with local children who use the facilities for both skate boarding and stunt bike racing. Such is the popularity of the park with travellers that it can be accessed directly from the line's northbound platform; the area is a popular site for campers in the summer months as well as being home to the local football and rugby teams who regularly play matches there. The brick-built changing rooms and club house facilities for the rugby team are located at the northern end of the park, close the skatepark. A macadam pathway around the perimeter of the play park, and sporting fields is a popular with walkers and a regular Walk & Talk event takes place here. In more recent times the park has been plagued by vandalism which has resulted in the installation of closed circuit television cameras to monitor and apprehend culprits.
As part of a major adaptation of the Oswald Wynd novel in 1988 the station was used to film exterior scenes, together with several other locations on the line, which doubled for Russia during the revolution. The recessed canopy was dressed with luggage and artificial snow for numerous linking scenes, and locomotive No. 11 Maitland was memorably repainted into a matt black colour scheme as part of the filming, a scheme it retained for the remainder of that season. Much of the location work was filmed during the hours of darkness and the scenes shot at the station do not feature a train although one was present. At the present time the series has not been repeated nor is it available in any home media format. The production was made by the BBC.
The live-action film version of Thomas The Tank Engine was partially filmed at the station, forming the basis of Shining Time Station (itself a variation of the series screened in the U.S.) in the story and the building and its environs were considerably disguised for this purpose, with a temporary canopy being built in the place where the original had once stood; whilst being a temporary structure this canopy looked remarkably similar to the original which had been demolished some seven years previously. The distinctive limestone station building was completely encased in wooden cladding and finished in a brown and cream colour scheme for the duration. Between the filming the production company provided their own style station nameboards which were erected between shots for the convenience of passengers, the railway remaining operational throughout the period of filming. The goods shed was disguised as the local Cooperative Store and period cars and set dressings were featured in the station. Some of the scenes shot featuring Alec Baldwin (the 1st station master), Michael E. Rodgers (the 2nd station master) and Peter Fonda (the grandfather) were shot at this location. The railway was used extensively during filming, with Port St. Mary goods shed being transformed into a workshop for the purpose and other island locations were also used including the Tynwald Hill Inn at St. John's. The locomotives and carriages were however not featured in the finished motion picture.
The station was again used for filming in 2005 when a live-action version of the Edith Nesbit story was filmed on the island, particularly in and around the town. For this, a temporary canopy was reinstated along the frontage of the station in a similar position to the original, and this remained in place through the majority of the peak season. the canopy was fitted with replica decorate fascia boards to match in with the extant versions. The film starred local resident Sir Norman Wisdom and the creature was voiced by Eddie Izzard. Scenes at the station retained the name of Castletown which are clearly discernable in the finished film. Upon completion of filming a number of smaller period props were retained at the station.
During June 2014 an episode of this series was filmed on the island as part of the T.T. races when a motorcycle constructed entirely of Meccano was driver around the famous mountain circuit. As part of the filming Oz Clarke took a footplate ride on locomotive No. 10 G.H. Wood alighting at the station where linking footage of the train and its crew was filmed.
Island At War
Beginning in 2010 the station has taken part in an annual event, usually held on the third weekend of August, as part of a wartime recreation weekend staged by the railway. The station building and goods shed are dressed with period posters and memorabilia, with all traces of modern signage and additions being removed or concealed for the duration of the event. Anti-shatter tape is applied to the windows and historical recreation groups attend the site adding to the period atmosphere; themed music is played on the station's public address system and various music groups also attend throughout the weekend entertaining around the station site. At previous events there have also been stagings of un-exploded bombs, sandbag bunkers, field hospitals and other period dioramas. This weekend is one of the busiest of each season and attracts both locals and visitors. Local groups of scouts also attend the site, camping on the concourse and providing period foodstuffs such as rabbit stew to passengers. Similar events are staged of several other stations along the line during this event, notably at either termini at Douglas and Port Erin . In recent times similar themed events have also taken place at Cregneash Folk Museum operated by Manx National Heritage for which a shuttle bus service has been operated from Port St. Mary.
In December 2010 the station was renamed for the first time as Tinseltown; this was carried out when it was used as the terminus for the railway's popular annual Santa Trains for the first time; these seasonal services had previously been terminated at Santon Station for many years. As part of a new initiative operated by Manx National Heritage, the local authority Castletown Commissioners and the railway the revamped services saw trains bring passengers to the station on an hourly basis for a short shuttle bus ride to Castle Rushen where Santa's Grotto was located in addition to traditional market stalls, fairground rides, an enchanted forest walk and snow machine. For these services the station was decorated with festive lights and music played, and adding to the festive feel of the station several of the services took place following an unusually heavy snowfall that blanketed the island in December 2010. As part of the experience the unusual step of allowing buses into the relatively small station car park was permitted and the Tinseltown Shuttle departed at regular intervals, echoing the latter years of Railway Company operation when Road Services buses called at the station at regular intervals when the rail-based services were restricted during the winter months. This theme and use of the station as a terminus was repeated in 2011 and 2012; in 2013 the grotto was based in the station's office; the decision was taken to revert festive services to Santon Station in 2014.
On Monday, 12 September 2011, the station played host to the official parties connected with the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games with the "culture day" prior to the closing ceremony of the event taking place in the town; to accommodate the vast numbers travelling on this occasion passenger services on the railway were suspended for the day whilst the competitors and officials were transported by rail to the station. The event has been a fixture of the sporting calendar taking place every four years since the inaugural event which took place in Edinburgh in the year 2000 and the 2011 event was the first time that the island has hosted the event. The event is designed as a small-scale version of the Commonwealth Games aimed at children and young people; past hosts have included Bendigo in Australia and Pune in India. The event saw the railway coping with its largest crowd on a single day for what may possibly be the first time since the annual influx of passengers on Tynwald Day ceased to be a major part in the railway's calendar after the Peel Line closed in 1968 when the railway stopped serving the village of St. John's where the outdoor ceremony is still held on 5 July each year. For the 2011 event, every serviceable steam locomotive on the railway was used (No. 4 Loch, No. 10 G.H. Wood, No. 12 Hutchinson and No. 13 Kissack all seeing service) together with all available coaches, which totalled 18 bogie carriages - the first time this number of coaches had been available since 1974 - including three newly refurbished coaches all of which are over one hundred years old. Once competitors arrived at the station they were transferred to the town square by four Wright Eclipse Gemini buses provided by the island's nationalised Bus Vannin arm of the transport division. All competitors attended specially prepared events at Castle Rushen before returning to the capital by rail.
For Southern 100 Ceremony
With ongoing regeneration works in the town's historic market square at the time of the event, the organisers of the Southern 100 motorcycle races held the closing ceremony and prize presentation for the 2015 outside the station; the road was cordoned off from Victoria Road to the station forecourt and a temporary dais installed on the approach lawn to the station to allow the event to take place. Several hundred people attended the event, which may become an annual sight at the station, and the Friends Of group provided refreshments. As part of the 2015 event the races marked their diamond jubilee resulting in record crowds attending the ceremony, at which Guy Martin was hailed as the overall winner, being a long-time supporter of the event, which is known widely as the "friendly races".
As Ballavolley Halt
During the 2015 Manx Heritage Transport Festival some of the stations along the route of the extant Port Erin Line were renamed as former stations of the Manx Northern Railway with Castletown being designated as Wild Life Park on 1 August 2015 only. The station's running in boards were covered with plastic signs denoting this, with selected other useful signage for passengers being removed for the duration of the event. One locomotive, No. 10 G.H. Wood was also temporarily renamed to appear as No. 5 Mona during the day, with other stations taking on dual roles, Port Erin becoming Ramsey and Douglas becoming St. John's; the request stops at both The Level and Ronaldsway Halt were not renamed, with bin liners covering the running in boards at these sites. The original halt at Ballavolley opened during the summer of 1965 upon the establishment of the Wild Life Park, consisting of a simple running in board and ground level grassed platform. It was again used during the brief reopening of the Ramsey Line 1967, taking its name from the nearby level crossing (the gatehouse of which remains extant today), being named "Ballavolley Halt - For Wild Life Park" rather than the "Wildlife Park" title used during the reenactment.
Despite the railway closing during lockdown in March of 2020, the station remained open as a selling point for Bus Vannin "Go Card" top-ups and retail requirements; following a relaxation of restrictions the railway itself reopened in July 2020 and remained operational five days a week until the close of the season as scheduled on 1st November, whereafter the station again closed for the winter, being used a destination for various festive dining services throughout December. A second island lockdown took effect on 7th January 2021 and the following day the station's ticket office was once again reopened for Bus Vannin sales, the railway itself remaining closed during this period.
School Hill Station
Opened during strike action taken by employees of Bus Vannin during 2012, this temporary station was located approximately three-quarters of a mile to the south-west of the station and was used only by local school children attending Castle Rushen High School; it consisted of temporary scaffolding platform with a capacity for five carriages, and operated only when the buses were on strike, at which times special trains replaced the bus service. It was located close to the start-finish line of the Southern 100 circuit and was removed after a considerable time out of use in April 2014. This was the first "new" station on the line since the halt serving Lough Ned Country Park (between Douglas and Port Soderick) was established in 1979; this however was closed in 1986 upon the demise of the park. School Hill was fitted with a vinyl banner as a station running-in board in the current house style, featuring bilingual titling°. When in operation the halt was manned by a station attendant and control of it was via internal radio communication with the station. It was also used during two of the railway's Rush Hour events when a recreation Manx Northern Railway train consisting of the locomotive Caledonia and the Foxdale Coach briefly stopped there for photographic opportunities. Today there is no trace of the temporary on the site.
To the immediate north of the station is a stone-built footbridge which provide pedestrian access from the adjacent Poulsom Park to the privately owned King William's College; the railway passes underneath this structure. The southerly extent of the station sees the line pass over the Silverburn River by means of stone overbridge also constructed from local limestone; an occupational crossing titled Mill Road is beyond, being controlled by the station by automatic barriers. Until 2001 this was a manned crossing and the gatekeepers' hut remains extant although disused. From this point the railway runs parallel to the by-pass road next to the route of the Southern 100 motorcycle racing circuit. In the station forecourt there are two public houses, namely The Viking to the left and The Sidings (free house) to the right. The latter was formerly known for many years as the Duck's Nest but the name was changed in 1996 gaining the name which acknowledges its close proximity to the railway station. A petrol station is located beyond these, and a car dealership whilst across the main road a sheltered housing complex is evident; the town itself, and the famous Castle Rushen, are a short walk from the station along the banks of the Silverburn River which runs through the town to the harbour.
This group was formed in late 2010 by a group of local residents and the resident station master with a view to enhancing the station; small groups of volunteers occasionally meet at the station to carry out these improvements which to date have included the erection of a station flagpole (a traditional sight on many Isle of Man Railway station platforms) some painting of the station including the platform benches, provision of traditional blackboard signage to the station, and most significantly, the reinstatement of the coal fire in the waiting room for the first time in many years. The group continue to have an input to the upkeep of the station and will be donating concrete cast planters in the future for addition to the station's platforms. The group have, to date, spent many hours attending to the small details around the station, that which would not ordinarily fall under the jurisdiction of the railway's full-time staff. In 2012 the station won the commercial category of Castletown in Bloom, an annual competition, and took place in the Hidden Gardens event. The seasonal station master co-ordinates all activities and he can be contacted at the office whenever trains are in operation or by telephoning the station directly. The group always welcome new members and suggestions for further enhancement of the area; a number of photographic material and ephemera relating to the station have been donated since the group's formation and these can be found on display in the waiting room which is open whenever trains are running. In 2014 the group held its first Summer Fayre on the site, raising funds for various projects including the proposed reinstatement of the station's advertisement hoarding and a replica cattle dock. This was followed by an Easter Fayre in 2015 to tie in with the railway's annual Rush Hour event with a further summer event taking place in August. Since this time the summer fayre has taken place annually towards the end of August.
Model Railway (2014)
In the spring of 2014 an "N" gauge model railway layout was installed in the bay window of the stationmaster's office facing out onto the station's platform area, as an additional attraction to the site. The diminutive layout was based around the Great Western Railway and usually operated only in season when trains were calling at the station and at peak times. It was installed by the seasonal stationmaster as a project of the "Friends of..." group to complement the historical displays around the site and consisted of two independently operating loops with a variety of sidings, including a locomotive shed and yard, and goods yard with coaling area and was constructed to fit the small bay window of the stationmasters' office, viewable from outside by members of the public. The layout featured one station with island platforms and footbridge, a fire station complete with pumps and tower, a large spired church with graveyard, detailed allotments, a piggery, and a windmill which dominated the small area. The layout operated model locomotives of the Castle Class, Pendennis Castle and Drywyllin Castle which operated regularly, the similar Hall Class Albert Hall and Kinlet Hall, and a prototype Flying Banana railcar, as well as a number of early Pannier Tank engines, a Prairie Class, and an autocoach with 14XX tank engine all in Great Western livery. In addition a large range of bogie passenger stock operated and a rake of diminutive four-wheelers, all carrying the traditional chocolate and cream colour scheme of the pre-war Great Western Railway by and large. Private operator wagons and vans also featured on the layout, which had an integral goods yard. The layout was removed from the station in February 2016.
Model Railway (2020)
It was announced by the "Friends Of.." group in February 2020 that a new model railway exhibition was to be created by the volunteers using the former store room at the station and work began on establishing this upon easement of Covid-19 restrictions; the new layout is OO gauge and features three concentric loops, again being themed on the Great Western Railway and featuring a variety of locomotives and rolling stock; work remains ongoing on completing the layout and it was open for public view when trains are operating during the shortened 2020 railway season.
In the early part of 2016 the former station masters' office and parcels office was converted to become a souvenir shop; this entailed removal of some historical features from the Friends Of... collection; the shop is expected to be open in time for the Rush Hour event taking place in its traditional slot over the Easter Weekend. In addition to the usual array of gifts it is expected that the shop will stock the two models produces by Oxford Diecast, one of which is of locomotive No. 12 Hutchinson. The shop is also expected to stock a range of postcards, fridge magnets, posters, railwayana, clothing and publications and will effectively replace the more modest sales items previously sold on the site by the Friends Of... group until the close of the 2015 season. This will be the first time that a dedicated retail outlet has been established at any of the railway's intermediate stations, although there have previously been similar ventures at Douglas Station (until 1999) and the large shop at the entrance to the Isle of Man Railway Museum at Port Erin remains the main souvenir shop for the railway.
|Preceding station||Isle of Man Railway||Following station|
|Ballabeg||Port Erin Line||Ronaldsway|
- Other Stations
- Rolling Stock
- Level Crossings
- Old House Of Keys
- Castle Rushen
- Castletown Golf & Country Club
- Nautical Museum
- James I.C. Boyd Isle Of Man Railway, Volume 3, The Routes & Rolling Stock (1996) ISBN 978-0-85361-479-1
- Norman Jones Scenes from the Past: Isle of Man Railway (1994) ISBN 1-870119-22-3
- Robert Hendry Rails in the Isle of Man: A Colour Celebration (1993) ISBN 1-85780-009-5
- A.M Goodwyn Manx Transport Kaleidoscope, 2nd Edition (1995)