Have you ever wanted to be a giant? Britain has a collection of some remarkable miniature towns and model villages at which you can stride down High Streets, tower over model trains and be that giant peering over castle walls. I’ve just written a short history of these amazing places as part of Amberley’s Britain’s Heritage book series, so here are ten of my favourite model village recommendations to visit.
The oldest public model village in Britain, Bekonscot opened in 1929 and is just 30 minutes from central London by train. Has a huge model train set!
Nestled in a valley outside Torquay, it’s a wonderful world full of animated models and amusing scenes
A realistic 1:9 scale model of the town that it is located in, and it’s been open since 1937. In the garden of a pub!
This is another model town of the town it’s located in. Big buildings up past waist height here, and all set in a 1950s timewarp.
Godshill, Isle of Wight
Perfect for kids of all ages, this model village has a model train and many models of real Isle of Wight buildings too.
Corfe Castle, Dorset
Situated in the garden of a lovely (licensed!) tea-room, this model village depicts Corfe as it was before Cromwell attacked the castle. There’s a 15ft high hill on which the fortress stands, right in the middle.
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk
A brilliant seaside attraction away from the beach, “Merrivale” has been restored and improved since the 1960s, and now features drive-your-own cars too.
Bridlington, East Yorkshire
A perfect little 1:12 scale town all based around a model port. A railway weaves around, and there’s a lovely tearoom too.
Hidden away inside an old fortress, this seaside model village is being restored with its central walk-through town and an extensive train set. Look out for Thomas the Tank!
Hutton-le-Hole, North Yorkshire
A work of art, this tiny village has been moved from its creator’s garden to the grounds of Ryedale Folk Museum. Such attention to detail: even the hinges on doors are handcrafted.
Some of these model villages were made as labours of love, others were established as commercial attractions: but all of these listed are open for the majority of the year, are worthy of a visit, and indeed a trip back in time.