This time last week we made our way to Great Yarmouth sea front and paid a visit to Merrivale Model Village, Railway and Gardens. There’s something about Model Villages that I always associate with being at the seaside, in fact I’m not sure I have ever actually seen a Model Village that isn’t at the seaside. Luckily for us the sun was shining and the air was reasonably still so the scene was set for a good day out.
We received a warm and friendly greeting at Merrivale and a stamp on our hands which would enable us to come and go from the attraction throughout the day. This is always a welcome gesture when you have a day out with children because their attention span generally means that they run from exhibit to exhibit and if you’re not careful you can be in and out of an attraction within half an hour! When you know that you can return throughout the day you are able to relax a bit more and keep coming back when the mood suits the children better.
Merrivale Model Village, the dream and creation of the Dobbins family opened in early 1961 after a full year of hard work putting the attraction together. This was to be the second model village of three that the family would create. Their first creation, Land of the Little People opened at the seaside town of Southport in 1956 followed by Merrivale in 1961 and last but not least the very famous Babbacombe in Torquay which opened in 1963.
The Dobbins family remained in control of Merrivale until the early 1980’s when they sold the village to a local amusement family who ran it until 2004. In 2004 the current owners Peter and Shirley Williamson began rebuilding the rundown village into the spectacle that it is today. In 2011 Merrivale celebrated its 50th Year and is now one of Great Yarmouth’s best-loved family attractions.
The whole attraction is easily accessible by wheelchair or pushchair which means that everyone can enjoy it. Merrivale is a typical section of the English countryside in miniature set over one acre of land, it has a busy town centre, a village inn, farm, travelling fair, sports stadium and zoo. We decided that the residents of Merrivale were obviously quite wealthy as they have a Country Club, big houses and some very nice cars too. The surrounding gardens are very well kept with some beautiful plants, flowers and shrubs. There are streams, lakes, waterfalls and a model railway which runs throughout the village and across the 30ft long suspension bridge.
When you look more closely at the characters within the village you can see the humour of its creators shining through . . .
Little Bean really loved all the interactive buttons which could be pressed throughout the village. Some would start music playing, others would make things happen like the fairground rides moving. Her favourite was the button by the Church ruins because she liked to hear the Nuns singing.
In a separate building you can find the Royal Exhibition which features a detailed twenty-two foot model of Buckingham Palace, a replica set of the Coronation Crown Jewels and a fine collection of Coronation memorabilia.
The fun of Merrivale didn’t end with checking out the houses and businesses of the village, there are remote control cars and boats, Little Bean loved the boats even though she was trying to drive the wrong boat for the whole time she was in charge! You can play crazy golf and we fully intended to but we got so carried away down at the beach we lost track of time and by the time we went back it was gone 6pm and the Village had closed. We did however find time to play in the amusement arcade and have a good look around the souvenir shop.
For more information about opening times and prices click the link below.
DISCLAIMER: For the purpose of this review we were granted free access to Merrivale Model Village, Railway and Gardens. All words, opinions and photographs are my own and may not be copied without my express permission.