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Carnforth Station

St Helens
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76 posts
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Carnforth Station

I have found myself on several occasions in the past standing on an empty railway platform staring into the distance towards the track on the horizon and waiting for a train.

Most of the times that I remember I have found it quite therapeutic.

Just lovely silence punctuated every now and again by such things as the sound of a muffled drill on a building site pounding at concrete too far away for me to care.

June '09 found my wife, daughter and I on a railway platform again:

Platform 2 for trains going to Leeds and Barrow in Furness to be exact.

I wasn't going to Leeds or Barrow in Furness though - Ann, Isabel and I were going somewhere else on our way back from some place else and decided to make a detour in the car just to see and stand on this hallowed spot.

I admit to never having watched the 1945 b&w film Brief Encounter in its entirety but, of course, some of its most memorable scenes were shot at the station.

Celia Johnston plays Laura, a middle class woman who lives a happy but predictable life. She meets a certain Dr. Alec Harvey (Trevor Howard.)

There starts a doomed love affair cleverly set to the sweeping romantic sounds of Rachmaninov's 2nd piano concerto. This single piece of music plays throughout the film and stirs up the emotions.

I can imagine the steam trains back in 1945 as they pulled into the station billowing out their smoke and sounds. The curved railway lines sweep into the station round a bend.

Although David Lean's film Brief Encounter sets the "excitement" of a love affair against the backdrop of a mundane England, the film somehow possesses that ability to make many people yearn for an England long gone.

This was a time when people were brasher, accents were stronger, and social attitudes to affairs were very different.

Today, the platform is home to an ornate cafe complete with '40s memorabilia and it has its own visitor centre.

The station occasionally hosts '40s weekends, murder mystery plays and exhibitions of arts and craft among other things and is also home to a small museum run by the friends of Carnforth station.

I love this place and admire the dedication of the enthusiasts and volunteers involved.

In addition to all this there is The Albert Halton Room that commemorates Carnforth's heroic contribution to the World Wars.

We noticed a number of other exhibitions on show that day that explored the social history of Carnforth.

All great!

All worth visiting!

There were a few shops to browse in although by the looks of things - on my last visit anyway - the recession had hit Carnforth station too.

Sadly "The Tardis" Dr Who shop unit was closed and empty but there was a model shop selling the usual Hornby goods.

Platform 2 at Carnforth station offers up a little slice of yesterday with sudden reminders of today thrown in as high speed trains thunder through the station on another line at high speeds desperate to get somewhere else on time.

Why is everyone in so much of a hurry?

Sometimes I wish the world would just slow down a bit.

I pity those poor passengers hurtling at 100mph who have neither the time or inclination to stop, get out and smell the heritage.

- The UK is alive with history.

I have often likened the UK to one big gigantic Theme Park but it's the quirky, off the beaten track attractions like Carnforth station that tend to grab my attention and pull me in.

My family's encounter at Carnforth last June was all too brief but for me it is one of those classic "BitsOfBritain" that I will definately return to.


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1. Re: Carnforth Station

Beautifully put. And worthy of being on a more widely read forum like London.

Sadly Carnforth's main line platforms have long since closed and only the local lines remain. Trains rush by on the express routes never to stop at Carnforth again. Back in late 1944/ early 1945 when filming was done they had to use a location way out of London as the lighting equipement would compromise the 'blackout'. And as the station was busy during the day, filming was almost always done overnight. Express train drivers were told to give it a bit of extra steam and blow their whistles as they flashed past the film crews for that added effect.

This country is just crammed full of wonderful, quirky, eccentric, historical, fabulous places like this, right next door to each other, and almost standing on each others shoes.

Stanley, Falkland...
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2. Re: Carnforth Station

Great post. I agree its a beautiful spot. I think the original clock in the film is still there. Also worth just going to see the cafe and its cash register!

Edited: 2:34 pm, March 04, 2010
St Helens
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3. Re: Carnforth Station

Thanks for your kind comments :-)

I watched a young couple hug and then steal a kiss together under the Clock.

I liked that.

4. Re: Carnforth Station

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