IT'S full stream ahead for Christmas at Cardwell Garden Centre after a replica of the Polar Express train was unveiled.

Handyman Alex Freeman has built a replica of the famous train from the movie of the same name featuring Hollywood star Tom Hanks.

Alex crafted it from wood and the 10ft high and 15ft long attraction has quickly has become a popular attraction with kids, who can climb into the cab and ring the bell and steam train sound effects.

There’s also a mannequin dressed as Hank’s character, The Conductor, standing beside the train and the ticket office booth Alex built.

The Polar Express movie is an animated film telling the story of a young boy who doubts there is a Santa Claus - until he takes a train ride on the Polar Express to the North Pole.

Alex's real job is a cleaner at Cardwell but the 59-year-old 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 after the centre’s retail manager Paul Carmichael showed him some photos of the Polar Express train.

Alex said: “All I need is to see is a photograph of something and it’s not long before I’ve got a good idea in my head how I’m going to make a wooden replica of it.

“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.

“I 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.”

Paul added: “Alex has really surpassed himself this year.

"His replica Polar Express is fantastic and youngsters love climbing into the train’s cab and ringing the bell.




Train pic 1: Youngster Caprice Webber, aged two, and her mum Samantha enjoy a ride on Cardwell Garden Centre’s Polar Express train.

Train pic 2,3,4 and 5: Santa joins handyman Alex Freeman at the replica Polar Express train he built from wood.

Train pic 6,7,8,9 and 10: Youngster Caprice Webber, aged two, and her mum Samantha, from Rothesay join Santa and Alex Freeman at Cardwell Garden Centre’s Polar Express train.