Should the island’s Victorian railways be given UNESCO heritage status?

The suggestion was made by BBC Antiques Roadshow expert and rail enthusiast Paul Atterbury during his visit to the Transport Festival last week,

He said nowhere else like the island’s Victorian rail network existed anywhere in the world and to ‘fiddle about with it for political reasons’ would be ‘complete lunacy’.

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999.


Mr Atterbury said: ‘I think it is world class, this should be world heritage – it should have that status, the same as the Darjeeling.’

Garff MHK Daphne Caine said she would support a bid for World Heritage status from Isle of Man Railways.

She said: ‘Our railways are unique and special.

‘The variety and integrity of our Victorian rail network is unmatched in the world, and a much-underpromoted asset in my view.

‘Previously it was suggested that Laxey might qualify for World Heritage status for its industrial heritage – the combination of Laxey Wheel, the woollen and flour mills, and its Victorian railway – but I don’t know if Manx National Heritage took that any further.

‘Even bidding for World Heritage status would bring welcome publicity to our railway offering.

‘If World Heritage status was awarded then I would hope that would secure the railways’ future as well as increase their profile and hopefully attract more visitors.’

A bid for World Heritage status could not be promoted independently of government.

But it would also bring with it restrictions on the lines’ day- to-day operations.