Babbacombe Model Village - a miniature pleasure
At one time, visiting a model village in Britain was a regular childhood treat, as there were many such villages lovingly created around the country, particularly near holiday resorts.
Many have sadly subsequently closed over the years as tastes have changed and far more diverse amusements been created. Babbacombe Model Village is, however, still one of the top attractions to see in Torquay in Devon, and keeps on growing!
Model Villages were at their peak in the early 1970s - a charming miniature world and a simple pleasure, often to be found in seaside towns and other tourist centres. Many shut down in the 1980s and 1990s as tourists spent more of their holiday money abroad, and as vandalism and the value of land became more of an issue. But there are still believed to be over 30 still going.
Amongst the several that remain, Babbacombe is one of the largest and most popular, set in four-and-a-half acres. It once had the world's smallest working television, and also has fishing villages, Stonehenge, a fire-breathing dragon and memorable house on fire. The village portrays English life and culture over the last six decades. There are over 400 models of houses, stately homes, factories, shops, entertainment venues and environmental features. There are a variety of architectural styles from medieval through Shakespearean to Victorian, along with vehicles, railways and other industrial activities. Some 13,000 miniature people go about their business in the village every day.
The attraction opened in 1963 and attracts 150,000 visitors a year, including an increasing number of Chinese tourists. Other surviving model villages include Bekonscot in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, Wimborne Model Town in Dorset and the Southport Model Railway Village, a recent addition only opened in 1996, and as the passion of local residents Ray and Jean Jones.
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