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Pub Visit - Isle of Man / Northern Ireland / Wales

Terminus Tavern 1 TrainsWednesday 25th July 2012

Bob Thompson

This is a comfortable pub that's situated at the very end of the promenade in Douglas at Derby Castle.

Its life and times are inexplicably linked to the Manx Electric Railway and the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway so you'll have to indulge me with a very short history of each.

The Manx Electric Railway (MER) is a double track inter-urban railway built largely on reserved track alongside roads but sometimes it strays out in to the countryside. It was built north from the Derby Castle terminus at 3 foot (914mm) gauge, firstly in 1893 to Groudle Glen, in 1894 on to Laxey, and finally completed throughout to Ramsey in 1899. This made a total length of 17 miles/27.4 km and it was electrified throughout at 550v DC with overhead collection. What is remarkable is that it's hardly changed since then. No modern vehicles and mostly original stations give it a timeless feeling.

Terminus Tavern 4 TrainThe Douglas Bay Horse Tram is an equally amazing survival. It was opened throughout in 1876 when hotel building was at its peak and was the sole means of public transport along the promenade. It is 1.6 mile/2.6 km long and like the MER is built to 3 foot (914 mm) gauge and connects the Ferry Terminal at Victoria Pier with Derby Castle.

Terminus Tavern 5 Horse TramThe tracks run straight down the middle of the road and there is consternation at the moment because of the delays caused when the tram stops as nothing is permitted to pass. This may mean this transportation idyll might not last forever as there is plan to move the tracks nearer the pavements and seems obvious that the new track will be able to accommodate the MER trains, so the horses may go. How many frequent and timetabled horse tramways are left in the world?

Should this plan be adopted it will finally rob the Terminus Tavern of its earlier reason for existence which was to provide a convenient stop after arriving on the Horse Tram before embarking on to the Manx Electric train. Of course, as it a popular pub it will remain open if this plan goes ahead, and hopefully, for many a long year.

The shed for storing the tramcars, see photo above, is right next to the pub yet the horse's stables are a few minutes walk along the promenade. The horses are replaced every two return trips and a groom walks a fresh animal up to the terminus and then takes the replaced beast back to have some well-earned hay and water. Please see the photographs with the two forms of railed transport posing outside with the pub in the background. By the way, myself and the horse have something in common, as we are both named Robert.

Terminus Tavern 2 Room

Interestingly the pub wasn't built for its current purpose. It was constructed in 1890 as the Strathallan Lodge and I'm unable to find out whether it was a private house or a private hotel. Anyway, it wasn't like that for long as it seems the arrival of the MER meant it became a public house known as the Strathallan Hotel. In fact, it was even owned by the new railway. This situation continued until 1957 when the MER was nationalised and the pub was sold to Okell's brewery. It acquired its present name, which reflects its location better, in 1982.

Terminus Tavern 3 Pool Room 

 When myself and fellow drinker Russell visited there was the usual range of cask beers. Okell's Bitter (3.7%) and Red (4.7%) were the two beers from the home side and a guest beer was Saltaire Summer Ale (4.2%) from West Yorkshire. Sometimes there are two guests.

The pub is well known for its good food and has two bars, the main room being the one in from the front entrance and the room on right is more of a public bar with fruit machines and a pool table.

There are a lot of tables out front which are grandstand seats for viewing the ancient transportation. It's probably the best pub in Douglas.

Important information:

The Terminus Tavern, Strathallan Crescent, Douglas IM2 4NR

Open: Daily 12.00-23.00

Obviously there is the MER and the Horse Tram but these do not operate in winter.

The 1 and 2 buses stop by the Horse Tram stables about five minutes away and serve the town centre, Airport, and most of the southern towns.

No 13 bus passes right by but is only a limited service on Monday to Fridays only.