VCT Filming: North and South  

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The award-winning Museum of Rail Travel at Ingrow near Keighley has provided three of its Victorian railway carriages for sequences in a major new four – part BBC TV drama, which is scheduled for transmission in November 2004.

The museum, owned by the volunteer – run Vintage Carriages Trust, has provided carriages for two scenes in BBC TV’s adaptation of North and South, written by Elizabeth Gaskell. 

North and South – the storyline 

North and South, written in 1855, tells the story of clergyman’s daughter Margaret Hale, a privileged, middle class southerner who is forced to leave rural Hampshire for a new life in the northern industrial town of Milton. 

Her distaste for the town and its people extends to cotton mill owner John Thornton, whom she believes epitomises everything she dislikes about the north.    

Over time, however, Margaret begins to settle in Milton, her social conscience awakens and she befriends some of the local mill workers, learning about the poverty and workplace struggles they are subjected to.  

As events conspire to throw Margaret Hale and John Thornton together, the two spirited characters have to conquer prejudices of class and circumstance and overcome their repressed physical attraction for one another.   

Elizabeth Gaskell – the Bronte connection

Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel, Mary Barton, was published in 1848 and won the praise of Charles Dickens.  Dickens invited her to contribute to his magazine, Household Words, where her most popular work, Cranford, appeared in 1853.  Gaskell became a friend of Charlotte Bronte.  When Charlotte died in 1855, her father, Patrick Bronte, asked Gaskell to write Charlotte’s biography, which was published in 1857.

 The actors 

The character of Margaret Hale is played by Daniela Denby – Ashe, who has appeared as Janey Harper in My Family, and Sarah Hills in East Enders.

John Thornton is played by Richard Armitage who has appeared in Cold Feet and Sparkhouse.

 Other actors in other scenes

A strong supporting cast includes Sinead Cusack as Hannah Thornton, the proud mother of John Thornton;  Lesley Manville as Margaret’s mother, Maria Hale;  Tim Pigott – Smith as Margaret’s father Richard Hale;  Pauline Quirke as the Hale’s maid, Dixon ; and Brendan Coyle as union leader   Nicholas Higgins.

 The Victorian carriages

Three Victorian railway carriages were provided  by Vintage Carriages Trust  for the filming:

Manchester, Sheffield & Lincolnshire Railway four-wheeled tri-composite built in 1876 which has previously been filmed for He Knew He Was Right;  Sons and Lovers; Turner – the man who painted Britain ; The Way We Live Now; Timewatch;  A History of British Art;  The Secret Agent (1995 cinema version);  Tomorrow’s World;  The Feast of July;   The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes;  Resurrection

Great Northern Railway six-wheeled brake third class carriage no 589, built in 1888 which has previously appeared in Sons and Lovers; The Way We Live Now;  Possession;  Timewatch;  The Woman In White;  Jude;  The Secret Agent (1995 cinema version); Tomorrow’s World;  The Feast of July;  The Secret Agent (1992 BBC TV version); A Testament of Youth;  Raffles; The Railway Children (1970 EMI version);  The Railway Children (1968 BBC TV version).

Great Northern Railway lavatory composite brake carriage no 2856,built in 1898 which has previously appeared in The Forsyte Saga Hound of the Baskervilles;  Turner – the Man who painted Britain;  The Way We Live Now.

The filming

Filming took place between Oakworth and Oxenhope on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, using Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway steam locomotive no. 957, built in 1887  which is owned by the Bowers 957 Trust.    Aerial shots using a helicopter were filmed for the opening sequence of the first programme.

Interior shots were filmed for the last sequence of the last programme.  Filming took place inside the Great Northern Railway carriage no. 2856, which was disguised to resemble the Metropolitan Railway “Chesham” carriages based on the Bluebell Railway in Sussex.

Filming has also taken place at Dalton Mills in Keighley as well as Edinburgh, Selkirk, Helmshore, Burnley and London. 


Jane Tranter, BBC Controller of Drama Commissioning, says: “North and South explores the simmering, restrained passion between two very different people who fall in love in spite of themselves.

As with He Knew He Was Right, and Daniel Deronda, North and South demonstrates BBC Drama’s commitment to bringing lesser – known works to a wider audience. 

Paul Holroyd of  the Vintage Carriages Trust said:  “ We are delighted to be involved with this prestigious production.  Our carriages have been filmed at many locations throughout England and we have been privileged to have played a small part in productions starring well-known celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Lancashire, Tara Fitzgerald, Saskia Reeves, Patricia Arquette, David Suchet, John Nettles and Gerard Depardieu to name but a few.   

However, it really is wonderful to be working with the qualified volunteers of our neighbours on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.  The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway is an ideal location for filming with its six stations, two tunnels, two level crossings, signalboxes and contrasting landscape ranging from rural to urban. 

There is no doubt that filming brings numerous benefits not just to the Vintage Carriages Trust and the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, but film companies also buy in products from local suppliers.  Most of the crew stayed at the Innkeepers Lodge in Keighley and guest houses in Haworth.      

Tourists also come to the local area to see the locations which they have seen on screen. “

Technical information:

Shooting date: Friday 23rd July 2004

Scenes: 1/01   4/74

Director: Brian Percival        Producer: Kate Bartlett                   Director of Photography: Peter Greenhalgh    
Line Producer: Di Barton     Production Co-ordinator: Phil Cole   

Art Director: Bill Crutcher     Art Dept Assistant: Charlie Lynam      Script Supervisor: Janice Schumm

Costume Assistants: Sally Davis, Mark Lord

Makeup & Hair Designer: Ali Davies     Makeup Artist :Susie Munachen

Grip: Keith Mead                 Rigger: Mark Jenkinson

Camera Operator: Steve Murray                Focus Puller/Clapper Loader: Steve Warner 

 Locations used for the mill scenes

BBC North and South website


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