Saturday, 13 May 2017


It  has been Dorset Residents' Week so we used our 2-fr-1 voucher to visit the Wimborne Model Town. It's gorgeous! Seventy years ago, Charles Coffen [who lived in Ferndown] had the idea for a model village based on the nearby historic town of Wimborne Minister. Built to one tenth scale, there are dozens of little house, a model of the Minster, the Methodist Chapel and shops and houses. First opened in 1951, people flocked to see the attraction...but as time went on, interest in the models declined, and the buildings deteriorated. A developer purchased the site. Then people woke up to the fact that this was something worth preserving - the buildings [made of concrete panels - sort of proto-IKEA flatpacks] were rescued, a local landowner donated a new site just behind the Minster and an army of volunteers set about restoring and salvaging the models. Roy Castle opened the refurbished village on the new site in 1991. WMT is now run as a charity. I took around a hundred pictures on our visit - I was entranced by the attention to detail, the tiny knitted garments in the various wool shops, the price list in the fishmongers, the wedding scene going on inside the Minster. I'm sorry I cannot reproduce here the sound of the bells in the Minster, the clock chiming, and the flushing sounds from the public loos!

Sadly many of these old little independent shops have now gone in the full-sized town outside. No Woolworths - but there is a Waitrose, and the properties that once housed ironmongers, stationers and bakeries are now Charity Shops. Jack-of-All-Trades, the toolshop, didn't appear in Wimborne till after the model town was built. We have loved visiting Marion and Tony's shop over the past two years, they are craftspeople who know really about tools- and we were so sorry to learn this week that they too are closing in the autumn. Holman's Electrical Shops still remain in Wimborne and Ferndown - but it's a shame when the little shops have to close. Usually they say the high business rates make it impossible for them to remain economically viable.

It was a beautiful morning when we walked round the little town. Things are clearly geared up for visitors - other buildings house a dolls' house exhibition, a model railway track, and there's a permanent video loop showing the history and wall displays. A play area for children, gift shop, loos, coffee shop - it's all there.
And in one corner of the gardens, seats - and a fabulous Storyteller's Throne.
Oh, how we'd love one of these!!
I shall be telling stories at our Ferndown Fete-on-the-Field next month, and again at Kids Club in August - but this chair wouldn't fit inside my little tent. Please Bob, can you build me a model one?


  1. I like the fact you can walk down the streets! At Bekonscot Model Village visitors are kept well away from the exhibits.

  2. I used to love going there in the 60s and 70s when we visited my great-aunt in West Moors. I had no idea it had come so close to disappearing though. Maybe it's time for another visit.

  3. FD - never done Bekonscot - I found Wimborne a little more interesting than Bourton-on-the-Water village though. There was more detail to see inside the buildings, and you could kneel down and peer inside.
    Lynn- you're not a million miles from Wimborne - if you do plan to visit, get in touch and perhaps we could meet up

  4. Oh my goodness! How delightful!
    I'd like a story telling chair, too. Bob, please make two.


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