Cambridgeshire

Wicken model village restoration begins

Beverley Lorking
Image caption Beverley Lorking is one of two men helping to bring the village back to its former glory

Work has begun to save a large model village that has been crumbling away in an elderly widow's front garden.

Pat Bullman and her late husband Oliver created the village in Wicken, Cambridgeshire, over a 50-year period.

It became a tourist attraction, but the 80-year-old pleaded for help to restore it after it began falling apart.

Beverley Lorking, who answered the plea, said as much as possible was being restored in memory of Mr Bullman, who died in 2012.

Image copyright PAT BULLMAN
Image caption Mr and Mrs Bullman's unnamed village became an unexpected tourist attraction
Image caption But years of decline led to Mrs Bullman being unable to save it on her own

The 73-year-old retired engineer, from Soham, is one of two men who have offered to help. He currently has nine buildings and a windmill in his garden workshop.

"I think altogether there's 28 [buildings]. We don't want to replace everything - that's too easy and then you've lost all the original feeling for the place," said Mr Lorking.

"Tony [Middleton] and myself who are renovating these are very fortunate because these are Pat's husband's, and they are Pat's memories of her husband, so we should restore as many as humanly possible."

Image caption Weeds began growing among the shabby buildings in the model village
Image caption The church was one of the biggest buildings in the garden
Image caption The miniature flower shop even had tiny vases and pots in the window

Mr and Mrs Bullman began their display with a windmill for their daughter, but over the years added a fire station, hotel, fish and chip shop and a church, among other buildings.

It became an unexpected tourist hit and at its peak raised money for charity.

Following publicity of its demise, local firms donated timber and now the paint pots are back out, the electric saws are plugged-in and the ramshackle buildings are getting a makeover.

Image caption Mr Lorking and his friend have already begun restoring some buildings, including this house
Image caption However, some buildings, such as the health centre, are beyond repair

"They have had a primer, an undercoat, and two coats of gloss, so when it rains the water will run off, and we've put feet on the bottom so no water can get in," said Mr Lorking.

"They'll last another 25 years at least. They'll last longer than me anyway."

Mr Lorking expects the work to take many months, but once finished it is hoped a grand reopening will raise money for charity in memory of Mr Bullman.

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