July 30 2014 Latest news:
by Sam Gelder
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
A little girl’s dream of having her own doll’s house has come true - 35 years after she made the wish.
When Sarah Walkley, now 40, asked her mother for the gift on Christmas Eve, 1978, she had no idea her father would spend more than three decades - and £9,000 - on the elaborate project.
Geoffrey Walkley, 69, of Hornchurch, finished the replica of the 18th century National Trust building Rainham Hall last year, much to Sarah’s delight, as well as his.
“I never imagined it would take this long,” he said, “When Sarah said she wanted a doll’s house my wife told her Santa had already packed his sleigh and left and there was no time that year.
“So I started looking for a suitable project. I started it off in the garage, but it made very slow progress as I was still working.”
The former lawyer began dedicating more time to the project 10 years ago after retiring, when he would spend up to seven hours a day, five days a week working on the model’s intricate details.
But despite it taking “six or seven” years longer than expected, Geoffrey insists he only really lost his cool once.
“I would lose heart when things started to go wrong, but there was only one time when I came in and said ‘I’m going to put a hammer through that thing.’”
Upon completion, the model, which weighs “about 300 pounds”, was carefully placed in a removal van and transported to Bromley where Sarah now lives.
“We had a bit of trouble getting it in the door,” said Geoffrey. “But it now has pride of place in her home. She’s the most patient daughter, she never once asked ‘when the hell is this going to be finished?’”