Douglas could once boast a railway station to rival many a main line one across.

No fewer than 11 tracks ran into the terminus and adjoining goods yard and there were platforms to serve the Port Erin and the Ramsey and Peel lines - covered for their whole length by two elegant iron canopies to shelter passengers from the worst of the Manx weather.

The canopies were demolished in 1978 shortly after the railways were nationalised as they were deemed a safety hazard.

Original plans for them are held at the Public Records Office which will be putting on a display of historical railway documents and photos as part of Manx National Heritage’s Heritage Open Days event which takes place over two consecutive weekends starting this Friday.

Public records officers have also organised tours of the store when they will be on hand to talk about its archive of treasures – and some more railway-related records will be on show.

Heritage rail has been chosen as a theme as the Steam Railway has been celebrating its 150 anniversary this year and the Manx Electric Railway has been marking 130 years since it first opened.

The plans of the proposed covering of the platforms at Douglas railway station were deposited to the town’s borough surveyor as part of a building byelaw application on January 15, 1909 and approved just seven days later. Both canopies were 448ft long, supported by pillars at 30ft intervals and the cantilevered awnings measured 29ft across.

Sadly, the plans – which had been in store in the basement at Douglas town hall until being moved to the Public Records Office in 2019 – are too fragile to go on show to the public during the forthcoming open day.

But there are plenty of other documents on display that will be of interest at the drop-in exhibition which is entitled ‘All Aboard! A Journey Through Isle of Man Heritage Railways’.

These include original plans, employees’ records, souvenir pamphlets and photos associated with the Steam Railway, MER, Snaefell Mountain Railway and the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway, dating from the 1870s through to the 1980s. Among the items are the original plans for the imposing entrance of Douglas railway station.

Some of these items from the archive have never gone on public display before.

‘I hope it will spark interest, There’s something for everybody,’ said outreach and archive officer Elizabeth Corlett.

Heritage Open Days is the largest event in the island’s heritage calendar and takes place from Friday September 29 to Sunday October 1 and from Friday October 6 to Sunday October 8.

Anyone can drop in to Public Records Office, based at the Spring Valley Industrial Estate, to see the display of original heritage rail records this Friday (September 29), Saturday October 30 and Friday October 6, from 10am and to 4pm.

Guided tours of the stores take place on those same three days at 10am and 2pm. The tours, which last between 30 and 40 minutes, must be booked – and the Saturday afternoon tour is already fully booked.

A full list of events during the Heritage Open Days can be found at