How Banksy tricked Merrivale Model Village in Norfolk

Merrivale Model Village's latest addition. Credit: Banksy

The club of Banksy owners is rather limited, reserved for either the very rich or the very lucky. This is the story of how the world’s most secretive artist, and his team, tricked a Norfolk model village into becoming some of the luckiest people in the world. 

Merrivale Model Village’s Frank Newsome considers himself a normal chap. His family have worked hard and owned the model village and mini golf-course in Great Yarmouth - a popular seaside town - for four years now.

It is loved by locals and tourists alike - a gorgeous garden, old penny arcade and model railway make it a go to place. After a visit by a group of men in their 20s and 30s, and one woman, Frank’s attraction is likely to see more visitors than ever. 

Banksy had a 'spraycation' across the region Credit: ITV Anglia

It was the morning of Friday 6th August - when the small group arrived at the attraction. 

Merrivale gives all visitors a week pass to come and go as they please, but for that they require a photo. Every member of the group refused to have one taken. Not so unusual for the attraction, as many people only come for the day. What happens next is less normal. 

The woman in the group tells the Chief Model Maker, Mark, about her interest in model making. Frank believes this may have been the first diversion tactic.

As they chatted the rest of the group wandered around. Then came the next tactic, putting up the drone.

Staff came over to the group to let them know they could not put up the drone unless they had permission, but the men repeatedly refused. After an argument ensued, everyone in the park had their eyes on them. 

  • Frank Newsome speaks to ITV Anglia

As soon as they picked the drone up, they made a run for it. ‘End of story’ Frank told ITV Anglia. 

A day later a visitor from Newcastle saw the model, impressed at the Banksy imitation, but did not think anything untoward until he watched the news that night - when it appeared lots of Banky’s were popping up around the county. 

He came back the next day to ask the team about it. Frank and his staff hadn’t even clocked the model. 

“He took us to it and there it was. Low and behold”.

It took a week for Frank to find out if the Banksy like model was really his - but an Instagram video, showing the infamous drone footage, confirmed the ‘dream’. 

 But it’s not something to be totally jealous of, “I don’t know if it felt better not knowing if it was genuine or not” he said. “It’s now starting to hit home the enormity of it. We’ve been inundated with phone calls. We’ve got the additional worries of security”. 

The model can be visited between 11am and 4pm every day.