Soham man who swapped daily grind to follow his dream puts finishing touches to enormous 60 stone dolls house

A FORMER computer software developer from Soham decided to swap the daily grind of the office to follow his dream and make bespoke dolls houses and he has just put the finishing touches on his finest work, a replica 1920s hotel weighing in at a whopping 60 stone!

It took 56-year-old Tim Hartnall seven months to complete the 43-room hotel for a private collector in Texas and the masterpiece was so large that it had to be transported in eleven pieces in a container ship.

The hotel which is inspired by the grand hotels of the 1920’s era such as The Ritz and The Hotel de Louvre, in Paris, is a phenomenal feat of design on a small scale. The hotel measures 6ft wide by 48” deep and 8ft 6” high.

Every 12th scale guest requirement is catered for as the hotel features a wood panelled bar, a restaurant, ladies powder room, shops, a wine cellar, luggage store, pantry, laundry and boiler room. There are six floors with five staircases and each of the 80 windows has been hand-made to get the big panes and for the glazing in the revolving entrance door.

Incredibly, Tim, who lives in Townsend, has only been making dolls houses full-time for fours years and has no formal training expect for advice given to him as a youngster by his uncle, who was a cabinet maker.


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He said: “I’ve learnt a huge amount about engineering something of this complexity, as the project has evolved, and have been overwhelmed by the help and kindness of fellow miniaturists who have advised and assisted me on specialist areas of the build,”

Each bedroom is themed and fully decorated; from an opulent Louis XIV room with gilt details and vaulted ceiling, to a Georgian room and a panelled oak Tudor room. The commercial kitchen is of real interest with quarry tiles on the floor and typical commercial kitchen doors with round porthole windows leading to hotel staff stairs and service corridors which span to the 6th floor.

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The grand entrance to the hotel has a canopy, a working revolving door and an elevator, which was very typical for a hotel of this era. The foyer is elegantly tiled in a chequer board style and a grand marble staircase, with a detailed wrought iron balustrade, ascends gracefully to the mezzanine floor and the doors to the giant ballroom. The ballroom itself has a minstrel’s gallery and opulent plaster mouldings.

The house has been fully decorated and fitted with lighting throughout, which was a feat in itself as any cabling and circuits needed to run seamlessly and discreetly within the 11 piece structure of the building. As the hotel is so large, normal dollhouse electrics couldn’t support the huge wattage needed for the complex lighting scheme and so mainstream commercial components have been used to feed the tiny room circuits. There are 70 electric sockets and over 200 metres of cable with 42 switches to control the lights in each of the rooms and the chandelier lights in the ballroom have 36 tiny bulbs!

Tim established Anglia Dolls Houses in 2008 and specialises in hand-making 1/12th scale Georgian and Regency dolls houses which he exhibits at doll house and miniatures events across the UK. Owning one of Tim’s tiny properties will cost from �1,850 to �8,500. To see his work visit, www.angliadollshouses.co.uk or call 01353 721507.

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