Bekonscot Model Village and Railway — a family day out near London
Beaconsfield is located 23.6 miles / 38 km WNW of London (or 18 minutes drive from Heathrow) and is home to a lovely miniature museum in open-air, called Bekonscot Model Village, “the world’s oldest and original model village” as said on their website. Created by Roland Callingham in the 20s, it was intended to delight Roland and his friends (source). After becoming open to the public, the museum has been visited by over 14.000.000 (June 2016), including Queen Elizabeth on the day the turned 8 (source).
We visited the village in June 2016 for the first time and have been there twice since then as it is a lovely place, a village in which you feel like Gulliver in Lilliput.
The place looks amazing right from the entrance and as you go down the small streets it fascinates you with the stories of its inhabitants and with the attention given by the constructors to every small detail.
To make sure the walk is pleasant for all the visitors, there are small arrows on the alleys so you know which way to go to make sure you manage to see everything without disrupting other visitors’ walk. However, in case you have a toilet emergency, there is a sign at the entrance for a shortcut to the toilets.
Also, to protect the building from curious visitors, there are small fences which were perfect for my daughter to hold on to when she was starting walking, last year.
Among the buildings there are streets and train tracks for electric trains, and I think adding them to the village was a very smart move as absolutely all the kids were fascinated by the trains and kept following them all around and shouting to each other “Look, here comes another one!” and “Over there, under the tunnel, it’s gonna come out!”. There are bridges and tunnels and the trains go over or under them, which is pretty exciting for the kids, especially that they can actually stand on a bridge and watch the train going under it.
The commander panel of the trains looks like this:
The building are also fascinating and the inhabitants look so real! Everything recreates the atmosphere from the 30s and have all the details needed to bring the village to life: for example, in the photo below you can see the shoe shop that actually has lots of tiny shoes!
In the center of the village there is a lake and a pier, with boats and a lighthouse, and in the water you can actually see real fish swimming around. And speaking of lakes: towards the exit there is a small lake with a lighthouse where, for 1£, the kids can play with boats via a remote control. The small lake is surrounded by a train track on which visitors can go by train (it’s next to the entrance and you pay for it before boarding).
Another attraction in this miniature village is the house in the photo below and that’s because it periodically catches fire and the smoke coming from the roof can be seen from almost any place in the village. Of course the firefighters rush to the scene with two fire engines and no one gets hurt.
Next to this house you can see, in the photo below, a construction site and the attention is drawn by the steam roller which actually moves back and forth! Speaking of moving, all around the village there are things that move or make sounds: you can hear a choir at a cathedral, see stunts being performed at the circus, a woman cleaning a window or the carousel moving at the fun fair.
All the backyards look realistic and they all have a story.
Some of the buildings, including the hospital, allow the visitors to peep inside through the roof or windows and see what’s going on. The next photo is taken through a glass roof.
In Bekonscot village there are also castles, hospitals, schools, sport areas (basketball, football, polo), a horse race, an airport, hotels, beaches and a camping site.
A river runs across the village and the inhabitants can canoe. They can also go with the cable car that actually works.
Every little inhabitant of the village is carefully placed in the story, every little detail is connected with another one. Every step you take, you discover a new story. And that is fascinating for all ages, and trust me, I know what I am talking about: the first time we visited this place my son was three and asked to go through the whole village, from start to finish, tree times! We managed to spend there three hours, and a few months later we went there again, and a few weeks ago… yes, you guessed it, we visited again! And we are not done with Bekonscot as it is a really lovely place to spend a day out.
Tips for a visit to Bekoscot Model Village and Railway
- opening times are 10am to 5.30pm, with last admission at 4.30pm, from mid-February to late autumn
- facilities include Disabled Toilets/Baby Changing facilities, Tea Room, Picnic Areas, First Aid, Rain Shelters, Playground, Souvenir Shop, wheelchairs available
- there is a limited number of free car parking spaces at St Teresa’s Church car park (close to the model village)
- at the family tea room there usually are gluten-free and dairy-free food options
- you will need coins for the remote controlled boats and pirate blast water cannons
Photos: all made by me in June 2016.