The original model village built in Beaconsfield
Bekonscot model village in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, is the oldest original model village in the world. First created in the 1920's by local resident Roland Callingham, it portrays aspects of England mostly dating from the 1930's. Not originally designed as a commercial enterprise, Bekonscot became an 'accidental' visitor attraction through press and public interest, and has been visited by more than 14,000,000 people.
Callingham, an accountant, developed the master plan for his model village as an addition to his back garden. With the help of his gardener, cook, maid and chaffeur, he drew up a model landscape of 1920's rural England. The project was named 'Bekonscot' after Beaconsfield and Ascot - where Callingham had lived previously.
The model village covers about 2 acres, of which just over half is a 1:12 ratio landscape. There are six model villages within, all of which are fictional towns - but based on UK prototypes. Shop names often include humoourous puns eg Lee Key Plumbers' Merchants ('leaky plumbers'), and successive generations of modelmakers have contributed to Bekonscot's range of vernacular architectural styles.
Large-scale model railway manufacturers Bassett-Lowke built an extensive Gauge 1 railway network for Bekonscot. At ten scale miles, it is among the largest public garden railways in the UK. Some original Bassett-Lowke stock from the 1930s is still in daily use, albeit with new running gear. There are seven stations in total - two based on High Wycombe and Beaconsfield, and others inspired by Midland, Great Central and Southern station designs.
Bekonscot has been run by the Church Army since 1978, and donates large amounts of money to charity. It is often acknowledged to be the inspiration for many other model villages and miniature parks across the world, including Babbacombe, Southport and Tucktonia.
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