Volunteers at a much-loved Island railway have returned home after picking up a prestigious accolade at a national awards ceremony.
The Great Laxey Mine Railway was shortlisted for the Outstanding Visitor Attraction (small groups) prize by the Heritage Railway Association, which described its Hop-Tu-Naa Trains last October as an outstanding visitor experience.
After initially seeing off competition from 71 other groups, it was selected as one of three finalists alongside Douglas Bay Horse Trams and The South Tynedale Trains in Cumbria, before being awarded the runners-up prize at the Burlington Hotel in Birmingham. Douglas Bay Horse Trams was announced as the winner.
Volunteers Brian Carr, Mel Carr and Tony Wild travelled to the ceremony with support from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company to collect the award.
The railway is owned by The Laxey and Lonan Heritage Trust, which is an Isle of Man registered charity.
Ian Smith, a Director of The Railway, explained: ‘We were naturally thrilled to be shortlisted but to be awarded runner-up, out of more than 70 entrants, has surpassed expectations.
‘This award is for everyone who has supported us in one form or another. We can't manage to run our trains without our fantastic volunteers, who don't just stop at the end of the season but carry on through the winter to get the trains and tracks ready for the start of the season.
‘We also owe a big thank you to members of the public who visited our special Hop-tu-Naa and Christmas trains and, of course, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company which generously supported our trip to the ceremony.
‘Congratulations are also in order to Douglas Bay Horse Trams, it is a fantastic achievement and a great endorsement for the Isle of Man to gain first and second prize.’
Established in the early 1820s, the railway’s terminus is located at the Valley Gardens, which was once the site of the Great Laxey Mine’s washing floors.
Passengers travel in a small carriage, hauled by a replica of one of the original steam engines through the island’s only railway tunnel and along the line which once carried wagons loaded with the metal ores.
The Heritage Railway Association represents heritage and tourist railways throughout the United Kingdom.
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘We were delighted to support the team at Great Laxey Mine Railway. It is another important part of our island’s heritage and attracts enthusiasts from across Britain and Ireland so this award will put them even more firmly on the map. Congratulations to all those involved.’
Photograph: Brian Carr & Tony Wild from the Great Laxey Mine Railway at the National Heritage Association annual awards.