Brothers' delight in Southsea's model village
Mark Wilson had always dreamed of running Southsea Model Village.
As a child he loved feeling like a giant looming over the village pub and cathedral.
Then, as an adult he helped out there for 15 years because it was owned by his mother-in-law Janet Neil.
At Christmas, after the shop and cafe were broken into, Janet decided it was time to hand over the reins.
Now Mark, 42, from Milton, and his brother Dean, from Fratton, are the proud owners of the model village and have given it a spruce-up for Easter.
Mark says: ‘My first reaction was “we’ve got to keep this in the family”.
‘It’s been here for 60 years, it’s part of Portsmouth’s history.
‘If we hadn’t taken it over there was a risk a developer with pots of money might have snapped up the land and that would have been a terrible shame.
‘I knew I couldn’t do it on my own and as I work with my brother at his cleaning company I asked if he wanted to come in with me.
‘Dean didn’t hesitate to say yes.’
It is a real family affair with Mark’s wife Emma and Dean’s wife Amy working at the attraction at Lumps Fort during the day and their children are helping out around the village and in the shop and cafe.
The model village has had its fair share of problems over the years with vandalism and a break-in at Christmas.
But, coming from a close-knit family with plenty of friends, they have always managed to get over the hurdles.
They have two volunteers, Jeff Brierley and Mick Bright, whose love of the attraction means they are always there lending a hand with fixing miniature roofs or repainting tiny garden walls.
And now Mark wants as many people as possible to enjoy the special place.
He says: ‘It’s like a hidden gem. It’s so quaint and charming and yet not a lot of people know about it.
‘We have about 30 buildings – all modelled on real places around the country.
‘The views out across the sea are beautiful’.
There is also a stunning piece of art painted on the wall by internationally-renowned Southsea artist My Dog Sighs.
Southsea Model Village is open 10.30am to 5pm daily. Adults £3 children £2.
To see a video go to portsmouth.co.uk.