Now, I am not even going to pretend to be unbiased here. I love Bekonscot. My grandmother took my mother to Bekonscot, my mother took my sister and me to Bekonscot, and I now delight in taking my own children. It is the oldest model village in the world, having been created 75 years ago in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, the hobby of Roland Callingham. It consists, in fact, of six villages, each with roads, shops and houses connected by a railway and surrounded by dwarf trees, alpine plants and koi ponds.
Amongst these villages are an aerodrome, a coal mine, a cathedral, a zoo, schools and a fairground. There is a burning house complete with smoke and 1930's fire fighters. There are back-to-back terraces and country mansions. Many of the streets are lined with shops, some named after original Beaconsfield businesses, the rest have names which are possibly some of the worst puns ever made.
The trains are the highlight for many of the visitors, especially the male ones of all ages. Chasing them around the village was great fun for me as a child; however it's not so easy nowadays as it seems much busier than I remember it (rose-tinted glasses and all that).
The village is different every year, as models are removed for repair and new ones added. You can even watch the model makers at work. This year there is a new play area for children, and in a nice touch, a model of this has been added to the village too. Another recent addition to this attraction is a ride-on railway, which runs at weekends and school holidays. In fact The Bekonscot Light Railway has just been extended due to popular demand.
With a reasonably priced refreshment area, room for picnicking and baby changing facilities it is a great day out for all the family with something for gardeners (the wonderful planting is often overlooked) and fish fanciers. The delight on the faces of the children visiting and the inevitable tantrum at leaving time (and that's just me) is testament to its enduring charm. It is a fabulous place and one that warrants visiting over and over again. Any profits go to charity as well.
It opens for the year in the weekend before the local February half term holiday and closes at the end of the October half term week. Opening times are 10am to 5pm, 7 days a week.
Visit the website Bekonscot.com for more information and to build your own virtual village, a sort of Lilliputian Sim-City.
Bekonscot Model Village, Warwick Road, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, HP9 2PL