Bekonscot in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, is the oldest original model village in the world.
It portrays aspects of England mostly dating from the 1930s. Bekonscot has been run by the Church Army since 1978 and donates large amounts of money to charity. It has raised the equivalent of almost £5,000,000 so far and has been visited by more than 14,000,000 visitors.
Bekonscot was first created by Beaconsfield resident, accountant Roland Callingham (1881–1961), in the 1920s. Roland developed the master plan for his miniature empire as an addition to his large back garden, drawing in help from his staff: the gardener, cook, maid and chauffeur. Together they developed the model landscape portraying rural England at the time. The swimming pool became the first "sea" and the undulating rockeries were built up as hills. Bassett-Lowke, the well-known large-scale model railway manufacturers, were commissioned to build an extensive 7+1⁄4 in (184 mm) gauge railway network, which exists to this day. Callingham named the village 'Bekonscot' after Beaconsfield and Ascot where he previously lived.
It was not conceived as a commercial visitor attraction but as a plaything to entertain Roland and his guests. It was only after 1930 that its existence became widely known, catching the imagination of the press and public alike. Frequent newsreels such as Pathe, international and national newspaper coverage ensure a steady stream of visitors, all of whom were invited to make a donation to the Railway Benevolent Institution.
By kjfitz @ 2010-01-14 14:38:54