Over the last couple of years, I’ve been working on a large LEGO model of Diagon Alley. It started with a custom model of the Leaky Cauldron and another of the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes shop. Realising I had two key components of Diagon Alley, I thought, why not build it all (or almost so)? Here is where I got to!
The overall layout
I have covered individual parts of the display in a number of previous posts, but never really given a consolidated presentation of the layout. So here is an overview of the Diagon Alley display as it looks today. There are a few more buildings to complete, but it is about 90% finished overall. I will update this post as it progresses towards completion.
The display is currently taking up 3×3 baseplates, with a third of this showing a typical Muggle street in London. To make sure it had the right London feel, I designed and added a traditional London phone booth and a London taxi (instructions for both are available from my Instructions page).
From the books we learn that the entrance to Diagon Alley is through the Leaky Cauldron, which is a small pub on Charing Cross. To reinforce the London feel, I also added an entrance to Charing Cross subway station (or the Tube as it is called in London) along with a London police man standing in front of it.
But most important is of course the Leaky Cauldron itself, with Hagrid and Harry about to enter as in the first book.
Through the Leaky Cauldron (the side of the building is open) and its small back yard, there is access to Diagon Alley behind. The remaining two thirds of the display is showing Diagon Alley along with Knockturn Alley.
The buildings are mostly custom built, though I am currently using both Ollivanders and Burgin and Burkes from the amazing 2011 set Diagon Alley (set 10217). These will be replaced by custom built versions when time (and money) permits.
Following this overview, let us have a look at some of the individual buildings.
The Leaky Cauldron
This was the first of the buildings I completed and has previously been presented in detail here.
It was a tiny, grubby-looking pub. If Hagrid hadn’t point it out, Harry wouldn’t have noticed it was there.Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
It was designed to to match the Modular buildings released by LEGO, and I used photos from the actual building use for the filming at Leadenhall Market as model.
A key design feature as mentioned above is the ability to see into the building through the open side, showing Professor Quirrell hanging out in the bar (as he did in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) and the upstairs guest rooms, including the one Harry stayed in for a few weeks in The Prisoner of Azkaban.
A back door leads from the pub into a small backyard, surrounded by brick walls. There, tapping the correct bricks will open up the brick wall for access to Diagon Alley.
Quality Quidditch Supplies
Entering my version of Diagon Alley, to the immediate right is the Quality Quidditch Supplies shop. It has been designed loosely based on the one from the movies, but as homage to the 2003 Quality Quidditch Supplies set, it uses the colour scheme, shop sign and lamp from that.
Being in the middle of the display, there is no visibility into the interior of the building unlike many of my other designs. For more information, check the detailed discussion in this post.
The Daily Prophet
The newspaper, The Daily Prophet, had an office at Diagon Alley. So next to the Quidditch shop, I’ve created a small building to house the Daily Prophet, with copies of the newspaper for sale in front. From the level 1 balcony, Rita Skeeter (my custom version, see this post) can look out for any newsworthy events, or simply make them up as she would normally do anyway.
I’ve previously briefly covered the building in this post, noting it is not modelled after any particular building from the movies.
Being in loyal to the Ministry of Magic and for a long time suppressing the news of Voldemorts return, it is easy to make a connection to the evil. So it may be appropriate that a passageway to Knockturn Alley runs right next to it.
While not a building per se, I will here briefly mention Knockturn Alley. The narrow alley leads from Diagon Alley between the Daily Prophet and Potage’s Cauldron Shop in an U-shape back onto Diagon Alley near Gringott’s bank. It will have a number of smaller buildings, one of which is Burgin and Burkes (can be seen towards the back on the photo above).
I will also add a few small stalls along the street selling weird, dark magic-like stuff.
Potage’s Cauldron Shop
The next building I’ll cover is Potage’s Cauldron Shop. I’m pretty happy with this one, as it is really looking well in the overall layout. This is a building where I didn’t use any source material at all for the design. I simply built a building and called it Potage’s Cauldron Shop. It sits nicely next to the passageway leading to Knockturn Alley, across from The Daily Prophet. I’ve yet to provide a more in-depth write-up of this building.
Gringott’s Wizarding Bank
Standing tall at the back of the display is Gringott’s Wizarding Bank. I had originally planned to keep using the one from the 2011 Diagon Alley set, but as I added more and more other buildings I created, it started looking too small. So I built a custom model, in particular adding height to the building.
The building is open at the back. The plan was to add a few desks for goblin clerks, but I realised it often faced away from the public at events and was perfect as cup holder instead!
While complete, I have yet to write a detailed presentation of the Gringott’s building, so check back later for an update.
Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes
After the Leaky Cauldron, this building was the first I built. Including may be slightly against the timeline in the books/movies, as it wasn’t really around till the Half-blood Prince, where many of the other stores were boarded up with the owners having fled from the death eaters. But it is such an iconic building that I simply needed to have it there (and I may one day dress up the other buildings to look abandoned/closed along with a bunch of death eaters roaming the street for a photo shoot).
My write-up about the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes has been one of my most popular posts to date. The back is open and reveals a shop full of fun stuff, including of course a large section of magical fireworks, such as their own Weasleys’ Wildfire Whiz-bangs!
Flourish & Blotts
The famous book store on Diagon Alley was one of the early buildings I did, starting on the design just after completing Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. It was done quite closely based on photos of the building in the movies and I in particular focused on the bay window and the brickwork in general. I have covered it in more detail here.
As all other buildings on that side of Diagon Alley, the back is open. Inside it, I’ve added bookshelves (not surprising) as well as my custom Professor Lockhart, who is signing his newest book, Magical Me. Of course, Molly Weasley is first in line.
The building is located between Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes and Florean Fortescues Ice Cream Parlour as in the set at Harry Potter Studios at London used for the filming.
Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour
As a neighbouring building to Flourish and Blotts, with a similar building design (but different colour scheme), I started building the ice cream shop in parallel with the book store. I have discussed it in this post.
For comparison, here is a photo from the studio set. Doing the set of café chairs on top of the bay window was an interesting challenge.
I won’t say too much about Ollivanders, as this model is currently the one from the 2011 Diagon Alley set. I’ve made space for a slightly larger building though, so eventually it will be replaced by a larger, custom version.
What is next?
The display hasn’t seen much progress since COVID-19, as there hasn’t been any display opportunities coming up, which otherwise has been a major driver for my enhancements. But I have been sourcing bricks for the next additions.
Towards the back, around Gringott’s, there are a few empty spaces to fill facing Diagon Alley itself and I hope to get room for the Magical Menagerie, Madam Malkin’s Robes for all Occasions and maybe Slug and Jiggers Apothecary. I also need to add a few more stalls and shopfronts on Knockturn Alley as well.
It would ultimately be great to add Scribbulus Writing Implements and Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment too, but the display may need an expansion in footprint to make that happen. It may be the solution, but it was meant to be an easy display to setup (compared to my Hogwarts which takes more than 4 hours to setup).
I got other ideas as well though – which may or may not include a dragon. Time will tell…
Till then, Build the Magic!