Model villages, like crazy golf, miniature railways, piers, variety shows, and seaside amusement parks, used to be the sort of holiday treat children adored (as did many an accompanying adult) alongside ice cream cones and other delights.
There is also a fantastic model village at Sewerby near Bridlington: http://delightfullyjaded.com/bondville-model-village/
Skegness Model Village:
Wimborne Model Town:
"Personally, I will not rest until every model village in Britain is catalogued on Nothing To See Here..." The splendid Nothing to See Here website is at:
although I think it still has some way to go before all are included, what is there is fascinating with plenty of pictures to entice.
Of course, the most famous of all is Bekonscot Model Village, the oldest in the world (1929) and even nominated as an Icon of England:
Bekonscot Model Village
Bekonscot Model Village is a mini-miracle, a major masterpiece on a minor (1:12) scale. Not one but six model villages nestle in the one-acre site in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, complete with a Gauge 1 model railway threading through it. Thatched cottages, a Tudor house, a castle, a windmill, a coal mine, a fairground, a cricket match, a scout camp and a fox hunt – all rural England is here.
Unlike some model villages, these ones are mainly fictional, allowing the founder Roland Callingham, his gardener Tom Berry, and their host of enthusiastic successors to let their imaginations run free. Although some place-names and businesses have their real-life counterparts (Enid Blyton’s house Green Hedges, for example), others are excuses for gloriously bad puns: the greengrocer is Chris P Lettis.
Beckonscot was opened to the public in 1929, making it the oldest model village in the world. In 1992 the decision was taken to send the village back in time, reversing the annual modernisations. Visiting Bekconscot today is a voyage of discovery, not only into a spectacularly detailed miniature world, but into an idyllic view of England’s past.
I did not, however, think that the world of model villages was anything which would be a contender for the next SAVE Buildings at Risk catalogue,
but the Himley Hall Model Village certainly seems as though it requires a great deal of TLC, although now rescued from its original site and hopefully to be resurrected in the near future. The story is told here, with a detailed set of photographs too:
On 18-19 August 2006, Tim Dunn plus friends and team from Bekonscot moved the remnants of the long-forgotten Himley Model Village from Dudley (West Midlands) to Beaconsfield.
This project has taken 18 months to complete since we first discovered the village, rotting and rusting away in the corner of a stately home parkland. The Model Village closed in 1994 and has been lying dormant since we rediscovered the site in 2005.
We need your help! We have brought several buildings back and need assistance in restoring them, as we are setting up a charitable Model Village Museum. We would like to hear from you if you:
- have memories of Himley Model Village
- know what real buildings these models are based on
- would like to help us restore these attractive wooden buildings
You can contact Tim Dunn, project leader, on 07973 174 357 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Another small (ouch) piece of news is that the Tom Thumb Theatre in Margate is on the market;
it was offered for sale last year, but there's now an auction in the offing with a considerably reduced guide price. It would make an enchanting puppet theatre, and I see until recently it was available for civil marriages; let's hope it finds a sympathetic new owner and isn't simply allowed to be demolished or converted into something else. Alongside a renewed Dreamland, a tiny theatre offering miniature delights would greatly add to the regeneration of Margate.
And while on the subject of moving, how about this?
RECORD reports from New York's East River as the Lieb House by Robert Venturi, spared from the wrecking ball with a relocation, floats from New Jersey to its new home on Long Island.
HERITAGE FORUM: now at http://www.joylandbooks.co.uk/forum/index.php