Published: 11:59, 31 July 2003
KENT'S own land of Lilliput, the model village at Ramsgate, is to close at the end of this summer season.
After 50 years of delighting visitors who are enthralled by the charming miniature village of Castlewolde, the attraction is to be bulldozed and the one-acre clifftop site returned to grass.
Ken Wake, who has maintained the tiny houses and characters, run the kiosk and shop and been a giant among the little folk for eight years, said: "The reason I am closing the village is quite simple -- there are not enough visitors to make it economically viable any more.
"For the last few years I have toyed with the idea of shutting down but the business has been run by the family since 1953 and I wanted to ensure it at least reached a half century.
"I have discussed it with the family and we reluctantly feel that the time has come to say goodbye."
Mr Wake, a former electrical contractor, took over the management of the model village from his mother in law in the 1990s. It has been in her family since it was built on the lawns at St Augustine's Road on the West Cliff.
The village had suffered from vandalism but the introduction of closed circuit television cameras five years ago dramatically cut down the amount of damage.
Mr Wake said: "When the passenger ferry was operating, people waiting to board the ships would pop up and visit us, while cross-Channel day trippers would often come and have a look. Most of the passing trade now seems to be centred around other parts of Ramsgate these days and the West Cliff seems to be forgotten.
"Whereas we could expects to see thousands of visitors a week during the peak season, now we see hundreds if we are lucky. I will be sad to see the end of Castlewolde but time moves on and our little village will soon become just a memory."