This August, fifty years after The Great Train Robbery in Buckinghamshire, the BBC is airing an exciting two-part dramatisation of the events, filmed on location - in Yorkshire. It follows a long and impressive line of screen appearances for Yorkshire’s dramatic landscape.
If you are staying with Forest Holidays at Cropton or Keldy in North Yorkshire this summer, here’s a trailer, a traveller’s mini-guide, to some of the filming highlights of this most cinematic of counties.
A Coastal Film Trail
Drop down the Yorkshire coast from the county’s northern border and Whitby is your first stop. Here, Bram Stoker brought Count Dracula to England and it was a backdrop to the two most notable Dracula movies including the Bela Lugosi classic from 1931. A pleasant harbour town today, it is still famous for its spooky associations.
Just 5 miles from Whitby, make a stop at Robin Hoods Bay. This tangle of narrow streets and alleyways was a smugglers’ paradise in olden times. For fans of the old black and white films, The Man at the Gate and The Turn of the Tide were both filmed here, the latter being the first film made by J. Arthur Rank.
Further down the coast, Scarborough is the setting for the 1992 film Little Voice which starred a stellar British cast including Jayne Horrocks and Michael Caine. Scarborough is also the backdrop for the 1988 film, A Chorus of Disapproval starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony Hopkins. More recently you’ll recognise it from some episodes of TV’s The Royal.
Panoramic Moors and Cinematic Dales
The Yorkshire Moors are synonymous with the brooding and dangerously attractive character of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë’s powerful novel of love and betrayal. The book draws inspiration form the Brontës’ home landscape around Haworth, and the recent 2011 film was shot nearby. The Brontë estate is just under 2 hours from Cropton and Keldy but well worth the trip. And if you think it is more familiar than you had expected that’s because you are also in the land of It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet, Calendar Girls and Last of the Summer Wine!
Closer to home, Castle Howard was the setting for the unforgettable ‘80s TV series Brideshead Revisited and the more recent film version of this Evelyn Waugh classic. And it’s worth revisiting; it is a stunning stately home set in 1000 acres of breath taking landscape.
The North Yorkshire Railway – a journey through film and fiction
If you are staying at Keldy or Cropton, you don’t have to travel far to find yourself in familiar surroundings. Much of the filming in Yorkshire has taken advantage of the magnificent North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which embarks from nearby Pickering. Aside from the wonder of taking a steam train through the irresistible Yorkshire scenery you will find yourself transported to a host of film and TV locations. At Pickering you’re on a film set from, amongst others, Keeping Mum, a black comedy starring Rowan Atkinson, and It Shouldn’t Happen to A Vet. You’ll journey though Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade and Heartbeat’s Aidensfield at Goathland. You’ll be reminded of scenes from TV series as diverse as Casualty, All Creatures Great and Small and Poirot, before arriving at Count Dracula’s Whitby.
Wherever you go in Yorkshire, you will probably get a familiar sense of déjà vu. Whether it’s a windswept moor or a gritty northern town, a pretty dales village or the rugged coastline, Yorkshire has inspired filmmakers, actors and authors alike.
When you come back from your Forest Holiday at Keldy or Cropton, and turn the TV on at least you’ll know why the Buckinghamshire of the Great Train Robbery looks so achingly familiar!
Did you know?
Bradford in Yorkshire beat Los Angeles, Cannes and Venice to become the World’s first UNESCO City of Film. You can take a coach trip in the 1958 vintage Bedford which features in Heartbeat. Tours run from Whitby to Goathland during the summer months.
Five must-see locations
1. Goathland Station - Harry Potter’s Hogsmeade Station
2. Goathland Village - Heartbeat’s Aidensfield
3. Castle Howard - Home to the Marchmains in Brideshead Revisited
4. Whitby Abbey - inspiration, and film location for Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula
5. Holmfirth - Home to Last of the Summer Wine