Alex Bridge was made as a tribute to a very good friend that I met during my train spotting trips to Ely in Cambridgeshire. Although his name was Alex, he was known by everyone as ‘Mick the Builder’. Like most of us that gathered at Ely, Mick was retired and was interested not just in GB railways, but also German and Dutch railways. One day I had that horrible phone call from another friend, Mick had passed away after a major heart attack. It was planned that I would build Mick a layout based on his native North East and an Engine Shed was his choice. Although this was in the planning, Mick had not made his baseboard, although he had obtained about a dozen loco’s.
After his death I vowed that I would make the layout he always wanted as a tribute to him and to the great time we all had at Ely.
I made a 6′ x 2′ baseboard and planned a layout to hold about 20-25 loco’s. The period would be the end of steam, and beginning of diesels, so-called transition. As Mick was a very down to earth character the layout would reflect a very run down and filthy railway, heavy weathering was the way forward, just as he remembered and spoke about regularly. The layout contains a four road shed, coaling tower and an ash tower, all being Bachmann and Hornby. The fiddle yard is simply one track and a behind the scenes manual turntable to turn loco’s. On this layout I assumed that most of the layout is a visible fiddle yard and viewable shunting achieved the movements I wanted, with an odd extra arrival or departure , to or from the fiddle yard.
The layout has now done about a dozen Exhibitions in the NE region guise, but with the arrival of the Q6, Mick’s favourite Goods loco, it would be nice to do another couple of outings. I have also decided to prepare another region or two to lengthen the life of the layout. With the arrival of the B17, J50 and D16/3 and the B12/3 soon, I think that a GE option in BR times would be nice, probably based around Cambridge, that’s where Mick worked. I am also considering a Scottish option.
I have been asked to sell this layout three or four times, but always decline whatever the price. I guess there will be a time to move on and sell Alex Bridge, just not yet. Thanks for the memories Mick – great times.