My first house was built by my father in the unoccupied flat downstairs in the house where we lived in Chiswick and given to me Christmas 1956, when I was five.
I furnished the house over the years, making pieces from empty matchboxes, balsa wood and, occasionally, getting furniture from a builders’ shop called “Jones” in Turnham Green Terrace, Chiswick. They showed all their dolls house furniture in a corner of the window and I have many memories of looking in and deciding which piece I was going to buy.
I kept the house until I was about 13 years old, when I decided that I was much too old for a dolls house and gave it away, a decision that I regretted almost at once.
Over the years I forgot about it until, in 2001, I saw a dolls house shop in Norfolk where we were holidaying with my parents. This started the passion again and I toyed with the idea of getting a house. That Christmas we went to my parents’ house - when I walked in, there was, I first thought, my old dolls house, except that it was brand new, Dad had built house number 2 from memory!
I have decorated and furnished my house over the years, using both handmade and bought pieces.
After this Mum decided that she would like a house too, so Dad built her house which she furnished in a Victorian Style. She then asked for a shop, which Dad supplied, however, it was very soon filled and he built her a bigger one. I took over the smaller shop which I changed to a pub.
Shop No 2, Mum's Flower Shop.
Then my daughter, Sam, wanted to get involved, she wanted to replicate Arkwrights, from the TV series, so Dad built her a shop, she then went through the programmes, pausing and making notes until she had it almost perfect, even down to the “Tin Bingo” (a collection of tins without labels) and Nurse Gladys Emmanuel. Then he made a house and a church for my Granddaughter, Kelly – hence the 4 Generations!
We also have a caravan, shed and workshop that Dad built for my Grandson, Ben, who wanted to get involved but didn’t want a dolls house.
Caravan and Shed
We continually add to our collection. We have bought several houses, one of which we call The Sue Ryder house, as it was bought from their charity shop and I have furnished it, mostly, with items from them. Our buildings are mostly 1/12th but my youngest daughter, Chrissie, likes 1/24th and has built a lovely pub and a Manor House.
The Sue Ryder House
The Loftus Arms ( 1/24th)
We now have approximately 23 items, which we show at Brighton Model World in February of every year. We got involved in that as another of Dad's hobbies was Model Boats and he was as member of a group that showed their boats. When the organisers heard of our collection they invited us to exhibit: the first one was in 2004, when we had about 12 items to display and they fitted onto 6 tables. We now use 12 tables.
Brighton Model World 2016: Our Exhibit
When Dad made a dolls house, he always made the roof to lift for storage. One year at the show, I was lifting the roof to get something out whilst talking to a lady about the houses when her husband bent down and said, “You haven’t got a model railway in that attic have you?” Jokingly, I think. I turned to Dad with wide eyes, “Oh, could we?” At that time Z gauge was the smallest train set you could get. Dad immediately went off around the show and came back with a bag of track, so I now have a working model railway in the attic of my house.
The Attic Railway.
The range of pieces that you can get in miniature continually amazes me - my Christmas present 2014 from Sam was a working flat-screen TV!