Plans for a Manx vintage transport museum at Jurby have been dealt a massive blow, after tourism chiefs said they could no longer financially support the project.
A dedicated group of enthusiasts produced outline proposals more than two years ago, and talks have been ongoing in a bid to allow the public to see some of the many historic vehicles and transport related artefacts currently hidden away. They include vintage buses, trams and items from the Island's railways.
About 25 vehicles were to be displayed, and exhibits were due to move into the museum this spring.
They were to have been displayed in a former World War II hangar at Jurby, owned by the Department of Local Government, and visitors would have been able to see vehicles being restored to working order.
However, Tourism Minister Martyn Quayle (pictured) says an agreement to subsidise the complex at an annual cost of £50,000 is not viable in the current financial climate.
He says it’s unfortunate, but many historic items in the department’s care will still be saved, despite the fact the lease on Homefield Garage in Douglas, where they are currently based, is about to expire.
He told Manx Radio:
"We certainly have to look at the priorities, and £50,000 is a huge amount of money.
"We've got rising costs within the department to do with some of the major events that we are holding, so it's most important to commit our finances to events that we are currently staging.
"If money isn't available at this time to introduce support to new events or new proposals then that is a fact of life that we have got to live within our means and within our budget."
The Manx Transport Trust says it’s disappointed at the withdrawal of DTL support at this late stage and feels the cancellation of the project will mean opportunities for the Island’s tourism and leisure industry will now be missed. It says it will also result in lost educational and training opportunities, and reduce the availability of vintage vehicles for filming purposes.
It adds it’s now unlikely members of the public will get the chance to see a number of significant and historic vintage road and rail vehicles and that, apart from the rent, the Trust would have operated the museum and restored the government owned fleet of vintage buses at its own expense.
However, the trust says the project is too important to be allowed to fail for want of modest investment, and it intends to explore other options to safeguard the Island’s historic transport, while making the collection available for public viewing.
It’s asking those who have offered exhibits for the museum or expressed an interest in the project, either by offering items or as volunteers, to be patient as it searches for an alternative solution.