Behind the scenes at Bondville Model Village as Yorkshire's last miniature village brought to life for summer season

A treasure land of little wonders can be found on Bondville's tiny shores, with a miniature village shrunk to fit in teensy one-twelfth scale.

This is Yorkshire's last remaining model village, bought a decade ago by a couple who thought they might like its tea shop.

Now, ahead of its reopening tomorrow as one of Bridlington's biggest tourist attractions, a flurry of preparations has been underway.

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To Tim Whitehead, who runs Bondville Model Village with wife Jan, it's been a long winter of painting and pruning and handcrafting dozens of doors.

Oliver Whitehead helps out with the preparations at Bondville Model Village at Sewerby, Bridlington for their reopening for the start of the season on May 1st. . Picture Tony Johnson

He said: "The thing is, while it's easy to close at the end of summer, there's a lot to do to get it back open. We are very much governed by the weather."

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Model village

Bondville, built in the 1980s, was one of three of its kind with the others in Hornsea and Withernsea. Now it is Yorkshire's last model village.

Gardener Sophie Revitt painting the buildings as final preparations are made at Bondville Model Village at Sewerby, Bridlington for their reopening for the start of the season on May 1st. . Picture Tony Johnson

There are around 200 buildings. A working harbour, with fishing boats and yachts. Then a waterfall, canal complete with barges. An abbey, three churches, three pubs. Even a tiny cricket pitch.

The Yorkshire Post makes an appearance, splashed across a billboard on the side of a bus. Then there's the Bridlington Free Press, among local businesses represented on site.

What it involves, said Mr Whitehead, is endless hours in his workshop, painting and preparing. There are 800 model figures, with each needing a new coat every year.

The boats, waterworn by summer's end, all need fresh paint. And with the 200 buildings, there's around 350 doors.

Gardener Sophie Revitt cuts the grass as final preparations are made at Bondville Model Village at Sewerby, Bridlington for their reopening for the start of the season on May 1st. . Picture Tony Johnson

"These have to be handcrafted," he said. "And all that's before you even look at the grounds of course.

"Because it's bespoke, and in miniature, it's harder almost. It is very much a slow process.

"Really, we don't get a lot of time off in the year," he added. "Getting ready is a major operation."

Workshop

Preparations at Bondville Model Village at Sewerby, Bridlington for their reopening for the start of the season on May 1st. . Picture Tony Johnson

The workshop has been busy all winter, while the gardens and grounds started to take shape from February. March winds and April showers mean this week has been busy.

Mr Whitehead said: "It's been an uphill struggle to bring it back to glory - I think we're finally there now."

And of the craft, he laughs: "We had to learn. I'm not a model-maker, by a long chalk. I was in the motor trade.

"I only bought the model village so my wife could have a tea shop. I thought I could probably sort the rest out. It's a much bigger project than I ever imagined."

There is something special about miniature models, he believes, which appeals to the child in us all. Dolls, dinky toys, tiny trains, all are smaller replicas of the real thing.

He said: "We are reliving our childhood with places like this. For children, it's the novelty, while for older generations they do appreciate the craftsmanship.

Oliver Whitehead helps out with the preparations at Bondville Model Village at Sewerby, Bridlington for their reopening for the start of the season on May 1st. . Picture Tony Johnson

"It's part and parcel of many people's childhoods. And it's the only one in Yorkshire. They are fewer and further between. There just aren't as many as there used to be."

Reopening

Bondville Model Village opens tomorrow, Sunday, May 1, until September, with new shops and sponsors, new boats and more to be revealed as the summer goes on.

Tim and Jan Whitehead, who purchased the business a decade ago, have now been given the "green light" to buy the land outright, opening up opportunity.

Mr Whitehead said: "We're now in the process of buying the land, so we own it outright.

"It's taken a year to get this far, we've got the green light now from the council to buy it. It gives us an incentive to do a lot more. There's lots of scope."

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Jan Whitehead helps out with the preparations at Bondville Model Village at Sewerby, Bridlington for their reopening for the start of the season on May 1st. . Picture Tony Johnson
A family play on the beach. Preparations at Bondville Model Village at Sewerby, Bridlington for their reopening for the start of the season on May 1st. . Picture Tony Johnson
Gardener Sophie Revitt painting the buildings as final preparations are made at Bondville Model Village at Sewerby, Bridlington for their reopening for the start of the season on May 1st. . Picture Tony Johnson