Groudle Glen Railway - Polar Bear locomotive

In March 2013, Culture Vannin provided Groudle Glen with &pound4,047 for a new custom-made battery for the Polar Bear locomotive.

The Polar Bear is a replica of one of the two Battery Electric Locomotives that operated on the railway in the 1920s, when the owners of the railway decided it would be cheaper to buy experimental battery engines than to refurbish the original steam locomotives.

Of the two original locomotives, the original Polar Bear de-railed early and seems to not have been used again, and the Sea Lion was worn out within a decade. The Steam locomotives from the Sea Lion were overhauled and returned, and the battery locomotives were scrapped.

In 2001/2 an electric locomotive was advertised for sale that was mechanically similar to the Groudle battery locomotives. With the support of Culture Vannin, along with Gough Ritchie Trust and Isle of Man Tourism, it was purchased and rebuilt by Alan Keef Ltd to aesthetically match the original Polar Bear of 1921. The locomotive entered service in 2003.

By 2013 the second hand batteries that she arrived with in 2003 were worn out, and she was only able to manage one return trip of the line on one charge. Following an application for funding, Culture Vannin provided the locomotive with a new set of batteries (over a tonne of lead acid batteries). These were purchased and fitted along with the locomotive receiving an electrical overhaul. The batteries have given her a new lease of life; at Christmas 2013 she hauled four days worth of Christmas services, carrying almost 4000 passengers.

"Quite frankly the restoration project of the railway since 1982 by a small group of volunteers wouldn't have been possible without the substantial and continuing support of Culture Vannin. Over the years Culture Vannin has provided assistance in many projects; Cosmetic Restoration of the Lhen Coan Canopy, Creation of Visitor Centre & Disabled Facilities at Sea Lion Rocks, Construction of Lhen Coan Replica Locomotive Shed to mention a few. The volunteers are extremely grateful for this assistance, as it has ensured that the railway has not been consigned to the history books and has continued to flourish as a restored attraction, with the railway having won the Best Attraction Tourism Award in 2013". Alex Brindley