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Gourock children experience Hollywood festive magic as local handyman creates real-life Polar Express

The real-life Polar Express created by a local handyman. (Mark F. Gibson)
The real-life Polar Express created by a local handyman. (Mark F. Gibson)

A CLEANER from Gourock has brought festive magic into the lives of children after building a replica of the Polar Express from scratch at a local garden centre. 

Alex Freeman, 59, the handyman behind the 15-foot long and ten-feet high creation, has made a cab that children can climb into, a bell for them to ring and steam train sound effects.

Located at Cardwell Garden Centre in Gourock, Mr Freeman’s train is based on the animated Hollywood movie starring Tom Hanks as the Polar Express conductor.

A mannequin dressed as Tom Hank’s character has also been made to stand beside the train and the ticket office booth Alex built.

Mr Freeman’s real job is a cleaner at Cardwell, but he regularly puts his carpentry skills to good use creating Christmas attractions for youngsters.

He spent weeks building the train in between his cleaning duties and feeding the birds and animals in Cardwell’s Pet’s Corner.

Mr Freeman said: “Although I never became a joiner or carpenter when I left school, my dad, John was a carpenter in the shipyards locally.

“When I was a boy, I used to watch him make lots of things out of wood at home for people and that’s where I learned how to do it. Any carpentry skills I have, I got from my dad.”

He added: “I just love making the Christmas attractions and my reward is seeing the happiness on children’s faces and how much pleasure they get from something I’ve made.

“The Polar Express train has been my biggest carpentry project at Cardwell, so far and although it’s made for the kids, a lot of adults like it as well.”

Cardwell Garden Centre’s retail general manager, Paul Carmichael said: “Alex has really surpassed himself this year. His replica Polar Express train is just fantastic and youngsters love climbing into the train’s cab and ringing the bell.

“Anyone walking through our doors can’t help but be impressed with our Polar Express train.”

Cardwell also features their popular Santa’s Grotto again this year along with the chance to have Breakfast with Santa.

www.cardwellgardencentre.co.uk