'It's a passion' - meet the new lord and lady of Merrivale

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

In common with other seaside towns Merrivale has an ageing community, its share of run-down hotels, a string of empty shops - and a spree of Banksy murals.

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. There is a new Banksy trail at the village. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

But unlike its real-world counterparts help is at hand to address any post-pandemic decline in the form of new owners Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes.

The couple are getting stuck into their new role at the helm of Great Yarmouth's model village having bought it from its previous rulers Frank and Frances Newsome at the end of the last month.

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

"We just want to make it better," Mr Gray said.

"As soon as I walked in I thought of all the things we could do."

Mr Gray, 32, who also runs the catering at the Pleasure Beach, said part of the appeal was that it was something he and dog-groomer Sophi could do together.

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

"We are invested in it and will develop it for the good," he said.

"It is a business but it is also a passion.

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

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"I cannot wait to get going and watch it grow. It will be good for the seaside as a whole. There is a new generation of people coming in and running theses businesses which will see improvements across the board."

The couple, who live in Bradwell with Ms Parkes' ten-year-old son, have a host of plans from general repairs to whole new scenes.

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. Aila, 7, enjoying the village. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Ms Parkes, 43, is keen to see animals roaming along multiple levels as Merrivale bids for a zoo, and to make more of its waterways with paddle boarding and boating just like the real Norfolk Broads.

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. There is a new Banksy trail at the village. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

The big wheel is in for a makeover and will be fully lit up at night and Merrivale Mansion is getting a maze and the kind of elaborate topiary associated with country estates.

Elsewhere a new fashion store and florist are moving in to empty shops and generally there will be more figures going about their daily lives.

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. Elizabeth, 15, and Amber, 8, enjoying the village. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

As well as a replica of the famous Banksy cottage deposited by the graffiti artist during his self-declared Summer Spraycation there is also a chance to see pint-sized versions of some of his other works around the village.

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. There is a new Banksy trail at the village. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Ms Parkes said feedback had all been positive especially after entry prices were dropped to help under-pressure families. Tickets are valid for seven days during which time they can return as many times as they like.

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. There is a new Banksy trail at the village. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. There is a new Banksy trail at the village, including a replica of the original. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi

Merrivale Model Village on Yarmouth seafront has been taken over by new owners, Dean Gray and Sophi Parkes. There is a new Banksy trail at the village. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme