As ‘Myrtle’, the unique train created by the late ‘Magical Imagineer’ Gordon Johnson, was unveiled at her new home of the Buttermarket during a special event organised by his wife Toni, a curious little robin watched on.

“That was Gordon,” said Toni Johnson with a smile on her face. She went on to explain that a tame robin had joined Colin Fawcett, ‘the Imagineer’s Apprentice’ as he worked tirelessly to get ‘Myrtle’ up and running again for the display.

“And on Saturday afternoon, there it was, sitting on the lamp post,” shared Toni, adding that due to its significance, her friend Noelle McAlinden had gifted her a model steampunk-style robin which is to sit proudly on the train.

Toni was joined by her family and friends for ‘Myrtle’s’ grand unveiling on Saturday afternoon, which took the form of a performance. Dressed for the part, Selwyn Johnston of Headhunters Barber Shop and Railway Museum took on the role of the train conductor, ably assisted by Toni’s grandson Sean, whilst Toni’s daughters Kate and Rachael waited patiently to board the train.

However, it was Toni’s granddaughter Jessie who had the top job. After pressing a big red button, the curtain masking the display fell down and ‘Myrtle’ was revealed to great applause.

As everyone watched in awe, ‘Myrtle’ gave her first performance, led by the three Collegiate girls aboard her, who Gordon had modelled on Jane Styles, Sandra Johnston and Elaine Pine.

“They ran the train, so the girls on the front did their bit and the girl at the back then started playing the hockey sticks and there were bells and all sorts of things on the back and it was called ‘Sandra’s Symphonia’,” explained Toni, adding that it was lovely to have Jane and Sandra present at the unveiling.

Acting like a clock, Toni explained that for one and a half minutes, ‘Myrtle’ will perform on the hour every hour.

“Now the quirkiness in that is that you are sitting in the coffee shop and you look out the window and you say, ‘there’s something happening over there’ and you get up, you go out and there’s nothing and there’s no sign that anything has happened and it’s kind of lovely,” said Toni with a grin, adding that those who wish to see ‘Myrtle’ perform will have to be there on the hour.

Noting how having ‘Myrtle’ on display to the public would have meant “an awful lot” to Gordon, Toni said: “He has a lot of work in the museum here but there isn’t anything of his as a public sculpture piece and I said to him once about that and he said, ‘yes it would be lovely to have something in town’ and he said that he thought the Buttermarket would be a wonderful place for it because people could stop and look at it.

“So it would have meant an awful lot to him and it meant a huge amount to me.”

Toni added that she couldn’t have done it without Colin’s hard work. “There was an awful lot of work to do because things have rusted, things have died and things weren’t working, but Colin would not do anything that modernised it.”

Sharing that Gordon was not an electrician and had his own inventive ways of making things work, she applauded Colin’s sensitivity for Gordon’s art whilst he worked on ‘Myrtle’.

“There’s lots of bits of her that were made of lots of bits and pieces, there was even a necklace chain of mine involved in it but Colin said he would do this and he said, ‘I won’t change anything in her’, and I said, ‘you might find you have to’ and he said, ‘no I won’t, I’m going to get inside this man’s head because I find him very interesting’.”

“It meant that Gordon’s work continued, so I said to him one day, ‘so the Magical Imagineer, who was Gordon, I said, ‘you are his apprentice’, and he loved it,” she shared.

Following the grand unveiling Toni commented that it was a really lovely day. “I feel delighted that it is there, I really do and I think it’s lovely for Colin too,” Toni told this newspaper.

Gordon took up a position as an art teacher at the Collegiate Grammar School, Enniskillen where he remained until taking retirement at the age of 55 to take up professional model making full time.