Situated just north of Douglas, Groudle spent centuries as an unremarkable hamlet of a few houses and farmsteads — until, that was, it was linked to the rest of the Island by the Manx Electric Railway in 1893.
Richard Maltby Broadbent, a director of the Palace Company, based in Douglas, identified the opportunity offered by the construction of the Douglas-Laxey railway and was instrumental in creating Groudle Glen as a tourist attraction.
Groudle river formed the boundary between Howstrake farm and Bibaloe beg, which was owned by his family. He came to an agreement with the Howstrake estate to acquire the other side of the river valley so that he could develop it as a pleasure ground. It was opened, together with a luxurious hotel, in 1893 and was developed further over a number of years with the minature railway opening in 1896.
The link brought tourists and prosperity to the area from Victorian times, many attracted by the small zoo in which sea lions and polar bears were kept in conditions regarded as unacceptable today, right through to the mass tourism boom years of the 1950s and 60s.
The remains of the sea lion pen can still be found today at the end of the Groudle Glen miniature railway — for more information on the railway, which was restored around 20 years ago and remains operational through the services of volunteers, click here for a link to the activities section.
Today, the glen offers a haven of tranquility with winding paths, towering trees and the sound of rivers and waterfalls to greet anyone wishing to escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.