Family’s unbelievable garden Christmas display with ‘real life Polar Express’

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A family have transformed their front hedge into an incredible festive display just in time for Christmas.

The work of a father and son duo from Ottringham in East Yorkshire, the polar express themed light show has been over a year in the making.

Robert Ingleson, 75, said he first started work on the project with son Michael, 38, during lockdown as he “needed something to do”.

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But image retoucher Michael came up with the original idea eight years earlier.

Last November the pair finally decided to complete the scale model of a Mallard steam engine, and they’ve been hard at work in the months since.



The display is an impressive scale model of a Mallard steam engine
The display is an impressive scale model of a Mallard steam engine

Michael explained: “I’ve lived at that house since I was a kid, and basically the hedge has always looked to me like a train, so it’s always been in the back of my mind.

“Then one day, I ended up drawing it – this is about 8 years ago – I just drew the steam train outline with the coal truck at the back, and that was it.

“I just showed my friend and said how good would that be? And then it was all forgotten about.”

As the UK went into a strict lockdown in November 2020, he suggested the idea to his dad again, and the pair agreed to start working on it together.

“I mentioned it to dad, and he said, “Why don’t we do it” and it just went from there.

“We just built it from last November until now.”

Robert added: “It was in lockdown, and I needed something to do, so I just started it.

“Because it’s a long hedge, we said to each other ‘that would suit a train if we could work it out.’”

“But I didn’t know how big it would turn out to be.”



A father and son have used lockdown to turn their front hedge into an incredible light up train display. Robert Ingleton, 75 said he created the incredible design with his son Michael, 38, over the course of a year as he needed something to do. See SWNS story SWLEtrain. While work started on the project in November last year, image retoucher Michael first came up with the idea eight years earlier. During the fabrication process, the pair fitted their wooden framed model with 15,000 lights, each of which was drilled and superglued individually. Since it was completed on Sunday, retired fabricated Robert said that hes been stunned by the attention that the light-up train had received. He said: The whole village loves it. Weve had rows of cars going by!

The pair based their designs on a scale drawing of a Mallard steam engine, first built by the London & North Eastern Railway at Doncaster Works in 1938.

Robert said: “We copied a Mallard to start with in photoshop, and then I just scaled it up from that.

“We had to alter the frontend because it wasn’t feasible to do the Mallard shape, so we changed it to a straight-forward train.”

The year-long project, which was finished in time for a Christmas switch-on last Sunday (Nov 28), required the pair to fit thousands of lights to their design.

Robert said: “There are 15,000 lights on it, and I had to drill every inch.

“We found the lights from B&Q on the front, which gave a starburst effect.

“We put that at 45 degrees at the front, and two parallel lines on the ground that look like tracks.”



Robert and Michael Ingleson. See SWNS story SWLEtrain. A father and son have used lockdown to turn their front hedge into an incredible light up train display. Robert Ingleton, 75 said he created the incredible design with his son Michael, 38, over the course of a year as he needed something to do. . While work started on the project in November last year, image retoucher Michael first came up with the idea eight years earlier. During the fabrication process, the pair fitted their wooden framed model with 15,000 lights, each of which was drilled and superglued individually. Since it was completed on Sunday, retired fabricated Robert said that hes been stunned by the attention that the light-up train had received. He said: The whole village loves it. Weve had rows of cars going by!

He added: “We had to get permission from the neighbour’s as part of the train is on their hedge as well, but they love it.”

And it appears the neighbours aren’t the only fans, with lots of excited visitors driving to see the display.

Robert said: “The whole village loves it. We’ve had rows of cars going by!”

So the father and son duo are hoping to use their amazing craft skills to raise money for charity, with half going to Marie Curie and the other half to a nearby school.

Robert said: “When I lost my wife about three years ago, Marie Curie looked after her and did a great job.”

“Anything we get is going to be split down the middle between Marie Curie and a local pre-school.”

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