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Island At War event on the steam railway this weekend 17 August 2011

Bophors Gun

The Island will be at war over the weekend (August 20 and 21) when a 1940s themed event is held on the steam railway.

Entrance is free and anyone dressing appropriately for the era, wearing their forties finest will receive half price travel on trains departing Douglas and Port Erin at 09.50am, 11.50am, 1.50pm, 3.50pm and 5.30pm.

The Island at War experience begins with a visit to Douglas Station, which will be transformed into a military outpost from World War II. Here the Home Guard will issue papers before you to travel to Port St Mary for a 1940s agricultural display and onto Port Erin for a VE Day tea party and other sights and sounds of the era. Passengers are urged to ensure their papers are in order or risk arrest. Likewise they are warned to watch out for spies!

Hon David Cretney MHK, Minister for Community, Culture and Leisure, said:

‘You could spend a whole day taking in the various aspects of Island At War event. I would urge people to allow plenty of time to absorb all the attractions at Douglas Station before taking the steam train south. Here you will be able to enjoy drills, demonstrations and children’s workshops run by Second World War military medical, Royal Navy, RAF and Home Guard personnel. There are also planned displays of beautifully restored period vehicles, both military and civilian, plus a big swing band playing in the afternoons.’

In addition, you can change modern money for 1940s currency – pennies, hapennies thrupenny bits, tanners and shillings – at the Money Exchange. The railway booking offices in Douglas and Port Erin plus the Tickethall in Douglas and the Whistlestop Tea Party and WI stall in Port Erin will all accept both modern day and 1940s currency.

Minister Cretney added:

‘The Island At War weekend has been made possible with the support of many organisations and individuals, some of whom are voluntarily bringing their skills, expertise or artefacts to make it an authentic war time experience. My Department is extremely grateful to everyone involved. Hopefully, it will be a pleasant journey down memory lane for some and a fascinating glimpse into the past for younger generations.’

Special Heritage Railways’ letter stamps and covers will be available to commemorate the Island At War weekend. They can be purchased only that weekend, both at Douglas and Port Erin stations.

Half price travel on the train for those in 1940s costume means an adult can board at the Home Guard’s military base in Douglas, be issued with ID papers for travel to Port St Mary, see the agricultural display, then go onto Port Erin for the VE Day tea party, before returning to Douglas to catch some live swing music, all for £5.80! Concessions apply and train travel is free for resident ticket holders.

An extra train will be providing shuttle runs between Port Erin and Port St Mary. This service will depart in between the regular timetabled services and is free to those with any steam train tickets, valid for the day of travel. Regular fares apply for those without. Times for these additional trains are: 10:50am, 11:20am, 1:00pm, 1:20pm, 3:00pm and 3:20pm. Photo 1: The self-propelled Bofors gun to be loaned for the event by the Manx Aviation and Military Museum.


Full details of the Island at War programme can be found below.

Douglas Station – Home Guard military outpost on 20 and 21 August

  • Drills, demonstrations and children’s workshops run by 1940s personnel from the Military Medical, Royal Navy, RAF and the Home Guard.
  • Displays of beautifully restored WWII Military vehicles; including a Morris self propelled Bofors Gun and US Army Willis Jeep.
  • Displays of exceptionally maintained or restored civilian vehicles from the 40s.
  • Wartime radio demonstrations with the Royal Air Force and the Royal Signals Amateur Radio Society.
  • Displays of Scouting skills by the Isle of Man Scouts.
  • The 13-piece Manx Swing Band will be playing the best tunes from the 1940s on both Saturday and Sunday from 2pm to 4pm.
  • Railway letter stamps and commemorative covers available to celebrate the event.
  • The Tickethall will be providing a special ration book menu.
  • Exchange your modern currency at the Money Exchange. The Isle of Man Steam Railway, the Tickethall, Port Erin VE day WI and The Whistlestop Tea Party will all accept both current and 1940s currency.
  • Make sure you are issued with your ID papers before you board the train – you do not want to be accused of being a SPY!

Aviation and Military Museum – Shuttle bus available from Ballasalla Station

  • Visit the fascinating Manx Aviation and Military Museum, incorporating the Museum of the Manx Regiment.
  • The museum will be hosting wartime radio demonstrations with the Royal Air Force and the Royal Signals Amateur Radio Society.
  • A free shuttle bus will meet passengers from the train at Ballasalla and take them the short distance to the museum. Entry into the museum is free but donations are welcome.

Port St Mary Station – Home Front

  • Farming equipment, tractors, stationary engines and a Field Marshall tractor and stationary baler will be displayed all weekend at Port St Mary Station.

Port Erin Station - V.E. Day tea party

  • The WI will be on hand, true to its wartime remit, with ration recipes to enjoy, and jams, marmalades, curds, pickles and chutneys in the 1940s spirit.
  • The Whisltestop Cafe will be joining in the celebrations with teas, cakes and more. From 2pm they will host an authentic V.E. day Tea Party in the station waiting room.
  • A display of a number of exceptional civilian vehicles from the 1940s.
  • Exchange your current currency for pennies, hapennies, thrupenny bits, tanners and shillings at the Money Exchange. Isle of Man Steam Railway, The Tickethall, Port Erin V. E. Day, WI and The Whistlestop Tea Party will all accept both modern and 1940s currency.

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