My name is Michael Leckenby. I have been running MVL Bridges as a one man cottage industry for more than ten years. In that time I have completed around 500 bridges and other railway structures for modellers across the world.
My objective is always to supply a realistic model at a realistic price. To achieve this I follow full size practice as far as it is practicable by reaching a fair compromise between size and scale. I use a range of different metal profiles: plate, bar, angle, channel, box and tee sections as in full size structures. To simplify the design by using only angle and channel would be to lose a high degree of authenticity. Nevertheless, I do use blind (or pop) rivets and far less than of them than in full size practice as not to do so would significantly increase the production time and price, hence the compromise.
All my designs and construction methods are based on full size practice too. Although they may not be based on specific prototypes the designs represent the range of structures which do exist or once existed in the past.
All the materials and fastenings used are rust and weather resistant allowing the structures to be left out in the open for many years.
What's in a name?
At first we considered a title based on our garden railway, The New Herrington Light Railway, such as 'The New Herrington Engineering Works' but that seemed too much of a mouthful!
Then the answer came from my initials. They link together perfectly to produce an interesting truss bridge arrangement. The rest is history.
MVL Bridges began construction of narrow gauge garden railway bridges in August 2009. The impetus came from the apparent lack of a specialist supplier of such models in the UK. For several years up to 2005 Peter Howarth Garden Structures had offered a comprehensive range of truss bridges. Sadly these are no longer available and second hand examples are quickly snapped up whenever they become available.
The opportunity to develop a new range mainly aimed at the UK narrow gauge scene was made easier when I became self employed as a picture framer after almost thirty years in primary education.
Having carried out initial research and development the basic range of six bridge designs was established. The first models were offered via Ebay and it soon became apparent that there is a clear need for realistic and weatherproof garden railway bridges. It is surprising how many modellers who spend hundreds and thousands of pounds on highly detailed locomotives and rolling stock are prepared to run their tracks on planks of wood over ponds and paths!
Our standard bridge lengths make up about half of the models we have produced in our first year of trading. The rest have been bespoke bridges designed to span fixed gaps.