A COUPLE, who have been married for almost 50 years, have spent the last six years putting together an impressive scale replica of a typical Dales village in their front garden.

Margaret, 67, and Bernard Read, 73, of Leyburn, said their "unique" front garden consisting of a 1:12 scale sandstone church, pebble pub, slate watermill and mix of stone cottages, continued to draw visitors from across the county and even interest from passing police officers.

The couple who live in Mount Drive said their permanent display of realistic buildings, with working features, and careful arrangement of foliage, attracted members of the public, their friends and family all-year-round.

Mrs Read said the idea to build the miniature village started off with one sole building, which grew into their miniature village.

She said: "One nasty winter Bernard was a bit bored and he thought 'what can I do' – he had, had the idea for quite a while to build this little stone cottage."

Mrs Read said it took her husband months to find the right materials to undertake the very first building, inspired by Mr Read's childhood memories.

She said: "We lived only half-a-mile from each other in Barden, which had old farm houses and the cottage looked a bit like this."

The couple, who have been married since 1971, moved into their home on Mount Drive shortly after it was built at a cost of £3,500.

Mrs Read said: "My husband worked on the estate when it was being built.

“When we die, the whole lot will have to go with the house because the buildings are just so heavy."

But six years after building the first stone cottage, their front garden is alive with miniature models of nearby landmarks, attracting even the police to come knocking.

She said: "When the police turned up the first time, we said ‘oh my god what’s happened’ but they said 'oh we have just come to have a look'."

The Leyburn-pub, The Sandpiper Inn has also been replicated with every detail, while the church features a working 'ringing' bell.

Each building takes several months to complete, using materials from a nearby quarry.

Mrs Read said: "Bernard builds them (buildings) in his garage over a few months on a big piece of slate.

"Him and his friend then wheels them out on a big lifter, he just does it part time, a little bit each time.

"He’s very good at doing DIY. He’s had no training, it’s just from having a go.

"Our neighbours like to see a new building going up."

Mrs Read said the miniature village had been a hit with their grandchildren.

She said: "We have one child in York and one in Richmond and they bring our grandchildren, who love it."

The pair said they did not like "sitting around", preferring to keep busy instead.

She said: "Bernard is just thinking what he can do next – he’s wanted to do a broken down abbey for a while."

However, needed materials were running out.

She added "When we run out we don’t know where we will get the stone from. I have only got a little bit to go at.

"I am trying to collect as much as we can – it's quite unique."