The Classic Manx Buses website - Introduction

The Classic Manx Buses website

Last updated on 13th November 2017

Introduction   Douglas Corporation   D C T photos   I o M R S   I O M R S photos   I o M Transport 1976 - 1986   I o M Transport 1988 - 2016   I o M Coach operators   Tours, Douglas   1996 Manx visit    Links    Email

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35 years ago, in October 1982, AEC Regent V 8122 MN was withdrawn by Isle of Man Transport. Its demise from active service also marked the end of AECs and ex Douglas Corporation buses in regular use. Apart from it still being in yellow livery in the summer of 1977 (when I saw it in Peel - a late survivor in those colours), its earlier career saw it demolish a lamp post in January 1969 when it skidded on an icy road. Following withdrawal it was in preservation for two years, then being sold and converted to a mobile cafe, then disappearing for several years, before being spotted in use as a static cafe near Athens in 2009. It was still there in 2011, but has since believed to have been scrapped. The photo above shows it in Douglas Corporation service, on route 4 at the White City terminus.

Public transport in the Isle of Man commenced in 1873 with the opening of the narrow gauge Isle of Man Railway with routes from Douglas to Port Erin and Peel. Three years later, an urban tramway opened for business in Douglas, and control of this passed to Douglas Corporation in 1902, following the liquidation of the operating company. The first buses on the island were a pair of Argus charabancs introduced in 1907 by the Manx Electric Railway, and these linked Bungalow (on the Snaefell Mountain Railway) with the company's hotel and tea-rooms at Tholt-y-Will.

From 1914 onwards, Douglas Corporation began bus operation in the island's capital, and from then until 1976 a total of 118 buses were bought, almost all of them being purchased new. In later years the borough was to become synonymous with its fleet of magnificent yellow and red AEC Regents, of which 42 were bought between 1933 and 1968. After that came some secondhand Tiger Cubs and finally four Bedfords, before the fleet was merged with its larger neighbour, Isle of Man Road Services. IoMRS buses were typically red painted Leylands, including Titans, Nationals, Leopards, Tiger Cubs, Olympics and Royal Tigers. The new fleet was known as Isle of Man National Transport, and soon the red paint spread to the former DCT buses. However a plus was the chance to see ex Douglas buses running on services throughout the island, and the variety of half-cabs to be seen for the following few years was possibly unrivalled else-where.

Change was not long coming though, and while the choice of replacement vehicles was sometimes questionable, the variety of bus types and body designs continued unabated, and provided much interest for the enthusiast. Ex Ribble Leopards, Preston Panthers, South Yorkshire Nationals, and Atlanteans from various parts of the UK typified the fleet intake for much of the 1980s. New Olympians were next on the shopping list, followed by ex Hull Dennis Dominators, new Dennis Darts, Leyland Lynxes (new and used), then secondhand Olympians from Southern National, London Buses and Dublin Bus.

1997 saw the arrival of the first accessible buses in the shape of 25 Dennis Darts (the largest ever batch of new buses to enter service). In 2000 the first step free double decker arrived, and all subsequent purchases have been of this layout, with vehicles supplied by Dennis, DAF and Volvo. During 2010 a new Transport Museum opened at Jurby airfield, and now houses a selection of various Manx buses. A second collection of preserved Manx buses was later established in the Douglas area. This site is largely concerned with the history of the bus fleets, but it's only fair to give a brief mention as well of the island's vintage railway and tramway systems, combining to give a varied transport system possibly unrivalled elsewhere in the world.

Links to other sites of Isle of Man interest:

Introduction   Douglas Corporation   D C T photos   I o M R S   I O M R S photos   I o M Transport 1976 - 1986   I o M Transport 1988 - 2016   I o M Coach operators   Tours, Douglas   1996 Manx visit    Links    Email