Fawley Hill with Sir William McAlpine
Lunch & Tea and a variety of Film Locations
2nd May 2018
The Day started at the Barbican where we all met in time for the coach to arrive at 9:15. The coach arrived at 9:45 and we all boarded as quickly as possible as we were now late for the second pick up at Hillingdon. While on the way to Hillingdon, Antony started to explain the format for the day and get us enthused for what was to come ahead. To do this he had some plastic signs (which we later found out had come from questionable sources). These signs had on them various letters which to the untrained eye looked like gibberish, but Antony explained were codes that different film companies used to tell the crew, actors and delivery drivers where to go. This then started a game of trying to guess what the letters represented to each company and led Antony to tell a story of a previous tour he had conducted in which he had use a sign to gain entry into an active film shoot.
We arrived at Hillingdon in the pouring rain to find our last two damp members, once they had boarded we could start the drive to our first shooting location in Bray, the church of St. Michael where both Morse and Midsomer had been shot. Antony took us on a short tour of the church explaining what scenes from the various shows had been shot there. He also explained the history and showed us the canon ball lodged in its wall from the civil war. After the church we drove to the next location, a small Cricket green where a number of murders had been committed on or around the green. Antony then produce a cricket bat and ball which ended up proving that out of the members attending the event none should be selected for the Aldersgate cricket team. After this brief game we moved on to a much needed and late lunch and the Britannia Pub in Marlow.
After lunch we moved on and out of Antony’s passion for film locations and into another passion – trains. To get to the Fawley Hill museum we had (to Muhammed, our driver’s horror) drive on a narrow lane with inches clear on either side (thankfully we didn’t meet anyone coming the other way). Once at the museum we were taken into the old vehicle shed where the walls were lined with old enamel signs advertising everything from engine oil to tea bags. We were split into two groups and my group was given the tour of the museum first. We were taken through rooms with everything you could imagine to do with trains and the railway infrastructure needed to run them. The rooms were full of scale replicas of steam trains including the Flying Scotsman which the late Sir William McAlpine had owned the majority share of the full size one. Once we’d looked though the museum we were taken to a full size railway for a ride on the diesel locomotive. Antony asked me knowing I am just as much a train enthusiast as him if I’d like to ride in the cab with him and the drivers. I did and on the journey around the estate the drivers informed us that the hill we went up and down was the steepest gradient on a railway in England. This ride ended with both myself and Antony being allowed to blow the loud horn - which can be heard up to 5 miles away.
Upon leaving the museum we moved on to our final location and afternoon tea. So, as everyone held their breath while Muhammed navigated the coach back down the narrow lane, Antony told us about the house at which we would have tea. He explained how it had been built in the 12th century and added to in the 14th and 15th centuries and that a number of films had been shot there. On leaving the house we started the drive back to London and to save us from the view of the motorway Antony had created a quiz of anagrams of film and famous sayings (to which I performed dreadfully with a score of 6). The winning score ended up being 29. This was the end to a highly enjoyable day and a unique experience for me, and only leaves me to thank Muhammed our driver for his safe and smooth drive, and to thank Antony for organising and conducting the day’s events through his passion we were all able to enjoy the stories and locations we visited.