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It's a Small World
Bekonscot Model Village (Beaconsfield )
Member Name: Essexgirl2006
Bekonscot Model Village (Beaconsfield )
Date: 20/02/12, updated on 21/02/12 (81 review reads)
Advantages: Great Family attraction, lots to do for the little people
Disadvantages: Expensive admission charges especially for a family.
Many years ago I visited Bekonscot model village in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire with some family friends, and about the same time my boyfriend has also visited with his family. Whilst in the area recently, we decided to revisit one weekend, to see if our happy childhood memories could be matched by the current reality
The model village is signposted from the M40 (junction 2) , so pretty easy to find as long as you follow the brown tourist signs. You can park for free just across the road. It is not a large car park, and could easily get filled at peak times, so you may have to park elsewhere. There is a Waitrose car park adjacent, but I believe it is for customers only. We walked across the road and entered the park area and were interested to read that all profits go to charity. The first reality check was the price - £9 for an adult. Children (2-15) are £5.50, concessions (£5.25), families 2+2 (£26). Under 2s are free and there are group rates are also available.
Entering the village we were behind a large family group but we managed to lose them quite quickly. The park was opened in 1929 and this appeared to be the era it is based in, there are no mini modern cars or model internet cafés. The first bit we saw was the zoo complete with animals, and a cute penguin pool. There were a range of little shops and houses, a marketplace, fort, windmill and cricket green amongst many others. As well as a farm, Bekonscot is an industrial village with it's own coal mine. At one of the two (miniature) lakes, they had a pier with a theatre which was advertising appearances by Max Miller and Arthur Askey. There is also a version of Enid Blyton's house who is a famous local.
There is a country club type hotel with swimming pool, guests made to scale are catching some rays or having a swim. In some places the models are animated, such as funfair rides or a see-saw on a village green. In one window we saw a woman 'moving' as she washed the window, her dog turning his head. These movements aren't continuous, they pause at times so you may miss them if you walk past at the wrong time. There is evening a 'burning' house that smokes with a model fire engine in attendance. Also reflecting the era is the village hunt, the red-coated riders and their horses are jumping the fence behind the hounds, but don't worry - the fox is a long way out in front.
One thing the kids all love in the model railway - suitable for any adult model train fan too, no doubt. There are a number of stations around the route and you can spot both passenger and freight trains traversing the village. There is a big life size signal box manned by a human, no doubt keeping the little services running (apparently it runs in the winter months, even when the life size ones can't). Other transport includes a moving cable car, and a model airfield. I would also like to mention that the whole village area is beautifully landscaped and laid out, the people who care for the gardens obviously take a great deal of pride in their work.
As well as a model village there is a play area, tea rooms and picnic area, which we had no cause to visit, but I do like to see family attractions offering picnic areas, as days out can get expensive. For an extra charge (£1) you can play on the remote controlled boats or ride on the kiddie train - the latter being for the really young kids. There are also 'Fun Photos' where they super impose your picture onto a model village scene so it looks like you are at the funfair for example. This isn't really for me, and it seemed the enthusiastic staff were having a hard job selling it to visitors. There is a small gift shop within a railway carriage. I was pleased to note that prices were modest and there were plenty of pocket money toys for kids, so junior members of the family can take home a little souvenir without their parents having to re-mortgage the house.
We were here about an hour, if we had been with kids I suspect we could have stayed longer as there was a playground for them to run about in. If you are going without children you may choose to go off-peak. Our visit was peppered with a backing track of "Jakey darling, come here please!" and "Look Hugo, it's a train!" Fortunately the kids were enjoying themselves so tantrum opportunities appeared to be minimised. However you may want to re-consider the timing of your visit if you have a low toddler-tolerance or an allergy to small children squealing. However, if you actually have children, then they are likely to enjoy it and it opens up lots of opportunity for discussion as to the purpose of various buildings and what may be happening in each 'scene'. Thus I do recommend this attraction.
Summary: A good family day out
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