Every time I drive up the M40 and see the sign to Bekonscot, I comment about how much I want to go there. I grew up nearby and went as a child, but I hadn’t been for many many years. I corrected that back in August as we popped in on the way to see my dad for lunch and return his car.
I was incredibly excited and pleased that Adam had agreed to come with me, but was worried that the reality wouldn’t live up to my expectations. We went to Legoland last summer and we both loved Miniland there. I knew he was going to be comparing it and I didn’t want either of us to be disappointed. I needn’t have worried. It was bloody brilliant! From the moment I walked in and spotted the a mini version of the penguin enclosure at London Zoo I knew I was going to be in my element.
The oldest original model village in the world, Bekonscot Model Village and Railway first opened in 1929. Made up of seven individual towns it reflects a simpler world, before technology took over and when I’m sure no one would imagine a time where we would end up living in lockdown as part of a global pandemic.
That said, there are some familiar names, including Waitrose, the Entertainer and Westminster Bank (now NatWest), and some very clever names of fictional shops; you can buy your fruit and veg from Chris P Lettis, get your watch fixed by Justin Tyme and get your art supplies from Traders of the Lost Art. The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker happily reside side by side.
You can watch the firemen come to the rescue as a thatched roof catches fire and pay a visit to the fun fair or the circus, or enjoy Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the cinema. And of course, each town had its own pub. There really is everything in this alternative little world.
There are of course some newer additions. New Town was opened in 2018 and includes a tube station – Hanton Road. Reflecting the style of Charles Holden designed stations from the 1920s and 1930s it is in keeping with the style of the rest of the village. New Town also has a working funicular railway and a version of one of my favourite buildings in London – the Hoover Building.
Despite growing up only 20 miles away from Beaconsfield, where Bekonscot is located, I never knew that Enid Blyton lived there for the last 30 years of her life. Bekonscot paid tribute to her in 1997, on the centenary of her birth, by unveiling a model of her home Green Hedges. You can spot her famous characters in the garden.
If just watching the model railway whizz it’s way throughout the village isn’t enough for you, there is also a miniature railway that kids (big and small) can ride around the village.
I’ll admit that I’ve been hesitant about doing much since we first went into lockdown, opting for the comfort and safety of my own home as much as possible. Being in the open air though, Covid fears were less of a worry. With strict timed entry (we arrived 15 minutes early and had to wait for our slot) and a one way system around the village (which most people adhered to!), contact with other people was limited. They even had hand gel that left me with the smell of peaches on my hands for some time afterwards!
I don’t remember how long we spent wandering around Bekonscot, but I know when I got to the end I wanted to go around again; it was a good job that this is something that they encourage!
All of this for the bargain price of £12.50 for adults. I’ll definitely go back and see what I can spot next time. The village will be setup for Christmas when it reopens after lockdown as part of it’s Winter Wonderland. Check out the Bekonscot website for more information.