Visible from across the bay of Douglas, Isle of Mann, the words ‘Electric Railway’ are now once again emblazoned on the Derby Castle cliff face, in letters made from MEDITE TRICOYA EXTREME (MTX).
The project to replace the old ‘Hollywood sign’ of the Isle of Mann, which marks the home of Manx Electric Railway on the island, was started during the summer of 2021, when it was discovered that it was rotten after being in place for nearly 30 years.
The original sign was erected in 1993 by the Isle of Mann Department of Infrastructure, to mark the centenary of the Manx Electric Railway, a local heritage tramway that runs from Derby Castle Depot in Douglas to centre of Ramsey.
“The sign is a source of pride for the whole island,” said David Roberts, the joiner who made the new letters. “After the old sign was deemed unsafe – both the letters and the scaffold, which had been made from marine-grade plywood, were completely rotten – there was an immediate call out for a replacement.
“I knew the only material that was up to the task of ensuring a new sign would stand the test of time – even on the coast, where materials tend to degrade more quickly – was MEDITE TRICOYA EXTREME.
“I have used MTX on virtually every other outdoor project on the island. Even 25 miles from the coast, materials still can suffer the effects of a coastal atmosphere. On an island this size, there is nowhere that is not coastal, so MTX is a pretty essential product for me in my day-to-day work.”
MTX is a ground-breaking construction material designed to be used in applications once limited to concrete, plastics or metals. Extremely weather resistant, it’s manufactured using sustainable raw materials can be guaranteed for up to 50 years above ground and 25 years in ground. It provides architects, specifiers and joiners with an entirely new construction material that allows flexibility, endless opportunities for creativity and more sustainable projects.
David cut the letters to be the same size as the previous ones out of 24 sheets of MTX, supplied by James Latham. For stability, they were mounted on a frame of Accoya wood. They were painted white with special paint made originally for boats, which was also chosen to be able to withstand the coastal elements.
The project was only stalled by some very bad weather for a month after the letters were finished, before they could finally be erected by crane at the end of 2021. Just after installation, another storm rolled in. Whatever the weather, though, the new Electric Railway sign is now sturdy and visible for miles, illuminated at night with colour-changing LED’s.
“It just illustrates how essential MTX is for these types of projects. Where the letters are installed bears the brunt of some pretty brutal weather conditions, plus the odd wave that will inevitably come crashing over in high winds,” David explained.
“MTX allows me to accomplish my work without using any plastics or metals, helping me work more sustainably. Furthermore, the versatility of the product ensures developing a solution that must be like for like with an heritage or historical project is rarely an issue – crucial for projects such as this one. It is a remarkable product that more joiners and architects should embrace – it’s not just any MDF!”
Find out more about MTX here.
Keep up with David Roberts Joinery at: davidrobertsjoinery.im/ or on Facebook: facebook.com/David-Roberts-Joinery-Ltd-411021332333483/ or Instagram: @davidrobertsjoinery.