Formed in 1966 when the future of the Isle of Man Railway hung in the balance, the Manx Railway Society (as it was then known) was made up from a group of like-minded individuals whose aim it was to ensure that the railway was retained in one form or another; the previous year had been financially unsuccessful for the Railway Company and at the time it looked like it would be the last year the railway would ever operate . . .
For the first time in its history no services operated in 1966; the group began producing newsletters on and was vocal in its support for the line to be retained and despite requests for intervention from government, no security was achieved. The group was re-named in 1967, becoming the Isle of Man Steam Railway Supporters’ Association.
In 1967 however the full network (save for the Foxdale Railway which had closed back in 1940 but remained in-situ) was reopened thanks to the intervention of the Marquis Of Ailsa who ran services until 5th September 1968 when the lines to Peel and Ramsey were closed for good. By this time interest was such that the occasional newsletters had become fully fledged magazines.
This was a period of concern for the Supporters’ Association but the future of the line to Port Erin was assured and trains ran on this southern line in 1969 and have happily done so ever since. During the 1970s the group had a very active role on the railway providing volunteer workers for the railway and taking on minor projects such as the re-painting of station buildings and level crossing gates and even some platform staff.
Although the future of the existing line to Port Erin was secure, it was indeed a sad time, as the lines to other lines to Peel and Ramsey were lifted in 1975 and this spelt the end to any return for them. The trackbeds of the majority of these abandoned lines now forms the “Rail Trail” footpath and bridleway.