News that Brookside Shopping Centre's iconic model train set was to be removed provoked an outpouring of support on social media and calls to centre management for the decision to be reversed.
The train set has been in its present location for at least 25 years and the children who saw it in those days are now grown up and their children are now enjoying it too, still at only a dollar a go to watch the trains whizz round on their tracks for two minutes.
"Brookside Centre management have always treated me very well and have told me they don't want to see the train set go," said the owner Paul Cook. "They have committed to assisting me with finding a new location for the train somewhere in the community."
"I knew that people loved my train set but I was surprised and quite emotional at just how much support there was for allowing it to remain at the centre," he said. "The centre management was also pretty surprised and called me in to a meeting to discuss the train's future."
The upshot of the meeting was that the train can't remain in its present location due to the centre revamp which is to take place in the near future. It cannot be housed on the shop level because it is tall enough to interfere with sightlines and obscure signage.
It will remain in its present location for the time being which will be hopefully long enough to find it a new home. Paul said it takes about 10 hours to disassemble and reassemble and that the component parts are not overly heavy for two people which will make it somewhat easy to move to a new location.
The Brookside Express has been delighting kids from the neighbourhood for at least 25 years but what you might not know is that there were once six similar setups in locations around Brisbane. They were built in Melbourne incorporating German-made LGB G-scale rolling stock and were brought to Brisbane by Victor Sladek.
Victor earned about $3000 before costs each month from the six train sets to supplement the income he made as a courier. Paul Cook bought them from him nearly 17 years ago and initially made a decent income from them.
Conditions changed over time and shopping centres become more focused on optimising income from their floor space and gradually, one by one, the train sets were removed from their locations and put into storage. The Brookside Express is the last of the six still operating and it is uncertain how long that will be for.
In a curious footnote, it has operated for its 25 years without any criminal interference except for a six-month stretch from 2010 to 2011 when there were two break-ins and two attempted break-ins. No incidents have occurred since then and it is presumed the thieves retired after their string of Great Train Robberies.
“I would like to thank everyone who has enjoyed the train set over the years and also those who have sent messages of support saying how much they loved it and how much they regret that it may no longer be on public view,” said Paul.
Village Buzz will keep you updated on the search for a new home for the Brookside Express and on the progress of building operations at Brookside Centre.
Thank you for all of your comments on our Facebook page, this decision wouldn't have been possible without you. So we would like you to tell us where you think would be the best location for the "Brookside Express", just leave a comment below.