Polar Bear on the Isle of Man - July 2005

Five Amberley volunteers plus one Land Rover which acted as our crew bus left Sussex the week after Railway Gala Weekend and took up residence in a guest house in Onchan, a suburb to the north of Douglas. It was nicely located near to the MER tram stop at Fort Jack, not a million miles away from the chippy, the pub and, of course, the horse trams.

Polar Bear and Sea Lion at Lhen Coan in a scene which must have been shot thousands of times not only this year but in 1993 and 1996 when we previously visited with our yellow machine!

Polar Bear had another birthday cake ......

...... and this time is was the turn of an Amberley man to do the honours ......

...... and to say a few words. John Stanton obliges but had not been forewarned that he was going to be asked to do this!

Polar Bear on the climb towards Lime Kiln making easy going of the gradient - perhaps she'd been here before and knew the way!

Just around the corner from Lime Kiln is the passing loop which was put to good use during our stay. The boat in the background is the MV Karina which operates pleasure trips along the coast from Douglas and includes the Glen in its itinerary.

Polar Bear rounds the headland with yet another trainful of happy holiday makers - well it is a tourist railway after all. Traces of the original track can be seen all along this section - between the new track and the cliff edge.

Double heading this time - Polar Bear pilots Sea Lion towards Sea Lion Rocks terminus.

The Sea Lion Rocks terminus - Sea Lion sets off with the red bogie coaches while Polar Bear waits in the loop with the Groudle Glen's replica GGR coaches. Unlike our coaches at Amberley which are painted brown and cream, these are varnished.

Sea Lion Rocks now has a tea room - an innovation since our 1996 visit. Sea Lion departs along the cliff edge.

Outside the shed Polar Bear with - er - Polar Bear? Yes, in 1927 the old GGR company replaced their two steam locos with two battery electric locomotives named, oddly enough, Sea Lion and Polar Bear. They were not a resounding success - one, Polar Bear, actually derailed and finished up in the bottom of the Glen. The steam locos were quickly reinstated! However, a replica of one of the battery locos has now been put into service by the present management although it uses a modern electronic control system which makes driving it exceedingly easy!

The Polar Bear Pretender in the headshunt at Sea Lion Rocks with the railway's service wagon ......

...... and at Lhen Coan.

The GGR's other locomotive is another Bagnall design - 0-4-2T "Annie".

Amberley's only lady steam driver, Ann Martin, on Annie at Sea Lion Rocks. Much swapping of drivers between each other's locomotives took place.

The GGR's two Hunslet diesels, Dolphin and Walrus, were also used in service on our second weekend which was billed as a "if it works we'll run it" event - so we did.

But all too soon, sob-sob, it was time to say goodbye to the Islanders and their superb hospitality and return to Sussex. Polar Bear was loaded onto Graham Morris's trailer again - a fortnight after she left Amberley - for the journey home.

But we'll be back!!!!

Oh Yes!

We Promise.

If they'll have us .......

Thanks to all the Groudle crew - particularly the late Tony Beard, Richard Booth and Bill Cubban. Also to Allan, Christine and Helen Blackburn at Glenesk. Their breakfasts kept us going nearly all day! Well, at least until the pubs opened anyway!

The Groudle Glen Railway is here.
(The Amberley Museum RailGroup at large on the Isle of Man)

We weren't driving trains all the time -
here's what else we did and saw.

(This link will take you to several photo shows of various Isle of Man views including other railways, buses and some scenery)

This is a commercial post-card view of Polar Bear taken in 1937.

Gerry Cork & Amberley Working Museum - February 2007
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