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Snaefell Anniversary

Snaefell Mountain Railway Anniversary Review

Despite the unfavourable weather conditions which plagued the one hundred and twentieth anniversary celebrations of the Snaefell Mountain Railway, many people made a pilgrimage to the summit for this special occasion.

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Proceedings got under way at Laxey Tram Station with a performance by members of the National Methodist Youth Brass Band, who were on an extensive tour of the Island.

But as passengers were waiting to board the tram for Snaefell, there was one unusual figure who moved quietly amongst them who captured their attention. This was the infamous Alexander Bruce, in full costume, who was instrumental in establishing the Manx Electric Railway from Douglas to Ramsey and also familiar for his part in a syndicate known as The Snaefell Mountain Railway Association.

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He is, however, more readily recognised as the General Manager of Dumbell's Bank and implicated in the financial institution's collapse in 1900. Although charged and placed under formal arrest, Alexander Bruce was by this time gravely ill, prompting the High Bailiff to rule that the suit against the Scotsman would rest. He died barely six months after the bank's demise and is buried in Braddan Cemetery, a short distance from George William Dumbell who created the bank which bore his name.

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Scheduled trams continued to run up and down the mountain in weather conditions which mimiced those experienced at the opening ceremony one hundred and twenty years ago.

But an additional tram carried a number of dedicated enthusiasts on a specially extended journey along the Snaefell Mountain Railway line, accompanied by local historian and author Andrew Scarffe, who gave a running commentary. There were also a number of photographic opportunities along the way.

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Due to the impenetrable weather conditions, other celebrations were forced indoors, which included Snaefell Mountain Railway collectable memorabilia from Isle of Man Stamps and Coins, and displays of how to make a Manx 'bumbee cage' with John 'Dog' Callister.

A small exhibition within the Summit Cafe and Restaurant comprised a private collection of postcards connected with Snaefell and its environs, together with personal recollections of the nearby radar station. A number of Michael Starkey's paintings were also on show.

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Later, the inaugural presentation of a specially commissioned forty minute work for a chamber ensemble, composed by Tim Price of Ramsey, was performed inside the Summit Cafe and Restaurant, as well as simultaneously relayed over loudspeakers across the surrounding countryside and live on Manx Radio.

Valerie Caine
© August 2015