Hullo. The Model Villager is me, Tim Dunn, a London-living chap who’s been a bit obsessed by model villages since a very early age. I grew up close to Bekonscot, regarded generally as the oldest existing public model village in the world (although there are others that could lay claim to that title).
These days I’m documenting the model villages and miniature cities of the world – tracking down creators, finding their fans and championing the craftsmanship that goes into these architectural marvels. Sometimes I’m asked to comment in the media, so you might find my name linked here and there. I want people to see the beauty of these miniature masterpieces – whether they’re in private gardens or in public parks.
I worked at Bekonscot in the early 90s initially on the model railway, later running their online marketing and organising the 75th birthday events and generally putting ourselves about a bit in the press. Until then, we’d been a bit of an island: researching its heritage for my book “Bekonscot – Historic Model Village” (Jarrold, 2004) I realised that we weren’t alone. There were dozens, if not hundreds, of model villages and miniature parks across the world. Some are still going strong like Madurodam and Bourton-on-the-Water (or even ‘New Bekonscot’); others have fallen by the wayside like Little Italy in Wales, or Himley Hall in the West Midlands. Many were inspired by Bekonscot – the true ‘grandfather’ of model villages, but there’s variation on so many themes and tracking back the ideas of each founder is a fascinating challenge.
Since 2004, I’ve been visiting most of the British villages and have been piecing together their history – so many are linked together and there are fascinating tales to be told;
- the full-size towns with two competing model villages
- the men who build model village kingdoms across the UK
- the rescues we’ve made ahead of the bulldozers
- the transport of a town across Yorkshire
- the model villages and parks built as political propaganda
- how I ended up with a 23ft high steel Eiffel Tower
- and the annual International Association of Miniature Parks conference. Yes, it’s a thing.
In this blog, I’m attempting to discover all of the greatest miniature towns – and by those, I mean the ones built outdoors predominantly as model settlements. I won’t be including the countless thousands of model railway-focused layouts, or indoor collections of dolls houses. Well, not very often. Sometimes they just ‘feel’ right.
Please, do get in contact if you’ve spotted a miniature town somewhere – be it open, public, private or disused. Each one always has an amazing story behind it.
modelvillages [at] timdunn [dot] com