Bekonscot is a toy village located in the English town of Beaconsfield, in Buckinghamshire, first created by a Beaconsfield accountant named Roland Callingham, in the late 1920s. It is believed to be the oldest original model village in the world, and it is regarded as the “grandfather” of the model village and miniature park movement.
Callingham developed the master plan for his miniature empire as an addition to his large 1.5 acres back garden, drawing with help from his staff: the gardener, cook, maid, and chauffeur. Together they developed the model landscape portraying rural England at the time. At 1:12 scale, it is stunning in its attention to detail.
The model was originally planned to decorate the garden where Mr. Callingham entertained his high-profile guests of politicians, aristocrats, and minor royals. It was only after 1930 that its existence became widely known.
Bekonscot boasts the ultimate train set, and its historic Gauge 1 line has been famous since 1929 for being one of the largest, most exciting, and complex in Great Britain. There are also a sit-on railway, remote controlled boats, kiddie rides and a pirate water feature. Some of the trains, controlled by a computer, have been running for over 50 years, each covering a distance of about 3,200 km per year.
The village expanded in size throughout the first half of the 20th century. Callingham sold off much of the land surrounding the model village, all of which is now a housing estate. The village is now entirely surrounded by urban development, so further expansion is impossible.
Currently maintained by four full-time members of staff including engineers, gardeners and figure artists, the lure of the attraction is appreciated by railway and garden enthusiasts alike. All profits from running Bekonscot go 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.