Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Santa helps ring the changes at Landmark shop


New owners of the Model Shop, Gareth Hutchinson (left) from Moira and nosiness partner, Jim Poots, from Tandragee, show some of the scaled models currently available at the famous store.YOU might think storybook character 'Fireman Sam' is alive and well - and zooming through the streets of Belfast this Christmas!

But the man in the dinky little red fire engine is only the new owner of The Model Shop in Belfast, long-time customer, collector and enthusiast, Gareth Hutchinson. The Moira man has now turned his 20-year hobby into his business, after buying the landmark Queen Street shop with friend Jim Poots from Tandragee.

And what better way to ring the changes than a festive visit from Santa - who is often known to resort to a fire engine when his reindeers are indisposed! A collector of model cars for over 20 years, Gareth recently took delivery of the custom-built fire engine which is two thirds the size of the real thing and is fully road worthy. "It has a Honda van chassis and an 800 cc engine, but the things most people notice are the sirens and ladder," said Gareth, who has two other miniature fire engines, three full-size 'Herbie' Beetles and a 'retired' Ulsterbus among his collection at home. "The sirens work, but the ladder is fixed and is just for show. The inside of the vehicle is hollow, which is great for storage, but we can't really put out any fires! '

The little red engine has proved a real head-turner and Gareth will be using it to help promote his new business which dates back to the 1930s and stocks everything from 'Matchbox' size cars to radio-controlled planes and boats, die-cast trucks, complete model railways and custom-built collectors' items costing hundreds of pounds

Ulster Star