Southsea Model Village is set to relaunch to the public this year, following repairs and renovations which will breathe new life into the seafront attraction whilst maintaining its rustic charm.
With fresh paint gleaming on every surface, overpowering trees trimmed down to an unobstructive size, and a notable start made on updating the models themselves, the miniature village, sited atop part of Lumps Fort beside Canoe Lake, is already shaping up to be a revived classic attraction on Southsea seafront.
The river running through the attraction has been relayed, a new model fairground will be installed, and future plans for an updated railway and a quarry are in the works. Following an instance of vandalism during the Christmas season in 2015, 24-hour CCTV has been set up.
“It’s been in my wife’s family for about 15 years now,” new co-owner Mark Wilson explained. He and his brother Dean are taking on the renovation project, alongside their wives Amy and Emma. “But over the past three or four years, the owner’s not been very well. So we’ve got the opportunity to continue the legacy.
“Other guys who come down to help, like Geoff and Mick, are absolute godsends for what they do through the day. Where we’re both in full-time employment, we can only come down from about 3 or 4 o’clock, but then you only get a couple of hours in.
“We’re hoping to have the model village back open for Easter. We’ve got an Easter egg hunt where kids can come and hunt around for 15 golden eggs. We’re later looking to do summer events, like princess-themed days and arts and crafts days, and we’ve got a Hallowe’en event lined up for this year as well: for kids during the day and something a bit scarier for the adults in the evening! And then we’ve got Santa’s Grotto coming back, too.”
Beyond the vast outdoor expanse of model houses and buildings, the Southsea Model Village encompasses an even broader collection housed in the tunnels of the Lumps Fort defence upon which it is built.
Perhaps the most striking piece on display is found in a room at the end of Rifelman’s Tunnel — a huge replica of Portsmouth Guildhall which, due to its impressive size, had to be constructed in eight separate parts over the course of 14 months. It was built in 1990 by Ronald Breadner.
“We’ve also got a guy coming down to discuss making us a Tricorn,” Mark went on. There’s also a 3ft model of the Spinnaker Tower made of matchsticks.
“We’re going to try to keep everything to scale. There’ll be little trees dotted about, and little market stalls in the middle of the village. We’re going to have sounds coming out of places like the church.
“They’re all based on buildings — the mother-in-law has a full list of each model’s inspiration.”
Southsea Model Village turns 60 years old in 2016. After the renovation and relaunch, spaces in the fort will be used for model-making and arts workshops and a range of other events to further enhance use of the model village.
Entry will remain £3.00 for adults and £2.00 for kids, and there’ll be a café on site for refreshments during the day.
Mark and Dean are using Facebook to share project updates as the renovation moves forward, and to celebrate the history of Lumps Fort. Like their page to keep up to date with news from the model village »