|Location||Christchurch, Dorset, England|
|Opened||23 May 1976|
|Area||4 acres (1.6 ha)|
Tucktonia was a late 1970s theme park located on Stour Road, Christchurch, Dorset, England. It was officially opened on 23 May 1976 by Arthur Askey. It originally occupied 4 acres (1.6 ha) of the 21-acre (8.5 ha) Tuckton Park Leisure Complex. The park was closed down in 1986. The site has since been redeveloped for residential use.
The park was best known for its large model village layout, which included a representation of London.
It is rumoured that just prior to the closure of the park, the owners wanted to build a roller coaster at the rear of the site, but were refused permission by the local council. Following the refusal, the park closed shortly afterwards.
Bekonscot Model Village in Buckinghamshire provided much inspiration for the designers, one of whom had his office near Bekonscot and was a frequent visitor. The bulk of the models were built by KLF Ltd, who later went on to design similar models at Britannia Park in Derbyshire (known as "The American Adventure" theme park by the time of its demise in 2006). Tucktonia was the brainchild of former double British Formula 3 champion Harry Stiller who was still living in the area in 2006, before his death in 2018.
Some sources claim that the miniature London landmarks were destroyed during the making of the 1985 alien invasion movie Lifeforce, and that the entire model village was destroyed when the park closed. However, other sources claim that, while the model village was used as the miniature set for the filming of Lifeforce, the visual effects crew actually used their own destructible miniatures in the Tucktonia streets. The model of Buckingham Palace survives; this was acquired, restored and put on display at the Wimborne Model Town, Wimborne Minster in 2002, and moved to Merrivale Model Village, Great Yarmouth in 2006.
There are numerous unsubstantiated rumours that the models were not destroyed after the closure of the park – the main one being that they were instead placed into storage within a barn where they remained until 2001, when the building burnt down.
Places and buildings featured in the model village
- Christchurch Priory
- Prospect of Whitby (London pub)
- High Street, Great Britain – a re-creation of a "typical" British High Street
- London's Tower Bridge, The Victoria Embankment, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Bridge, Cleopatra's Needle, HMS "Discovery", The National Westminster Tower, Piccadilly Circus
Rides and attractions present whilst the park was operating
- Various small-scale fairground rides
- A range of standard kiddie rides, including 20p-a-go mini bumper three-wheeled motorcycles
- Magic castle-themed giant six-lane Fun Slide (May 1986)
- Boating lake with motorised bumper boats
- Amusement Arcade
- Ride on small-scale Landrover cars
- Crazy Golf/nine-hole golf course
- 7+1⁄4-inch miniature narrow gauge scale ride on Steam Train – Later moved/sold to Moors Valley Railway (1980–1985)
- Model village
- 2+1⁄2-inch gauge electric model railway, featuring half a mile of track, and 75 items of rolling stock
- Golfers Arms restaurant
- Roy of the Rovers bar for children
- Go-kart track
- Mini-Cinema, showing cartoons
- Souvenir shops
After the park closed in 1986, the buildings and fixtures were cleared and the land used at first for a public house called "The Olde Colonial", then, at a later date, "Bar Max". These were housed in the original buildings built by Harry Stiller and operated by him and known as the Golfer's Arms. This was a highly popular venue for both locals and tourists alike and featured the Raceway bar, where one of Harry Stiller's original race cars was a centrepiece on one of the walls in the main bar.
At a later date in the 1990s these buildings were cleared, and a number of retirement flats were built. These currently occupy the former site.
- Model Railway Constructor – July 1976 – p247
- "Moors Valley Railway – How it began". Archived from the original on 1 May 2006. Retrieved 12 May 2006.
- Bratby, Richard (25 July 2020). "Model villages aren't just for kids". The Spectator. No. July 2020. Press Holdings. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
- The Real Rufus T Firefly (12 March 2012). "Tucktonia in Lifeforce 1985". Flickr.com. SmugMug Inc. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
- Dunn, Tim. ""TUCKTONIA again!" forum post on www.saxonsquare.com". (Historian for Bekonscot Model Village). Retrieved 12 May 2006.[dead link]
- Model palace is being moved from the Wimborne Model Town Eastern Daily Press, 8 November 2005
- Emma Cooke (8 January 2020). "The fascinating stories behind Britain's forgotten theme parks". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
- "Slide at Tucktonia photograph, taken in May 1986 and publicly shared by Paul Curtis". Retrieved 1 July 2006.[dead link]