I started out looking for the station used in the film at many locations, However i was soon to learn that this station was going to be a needle in a haystack and finding it was going to prove a very difficult task.
Many hours were spent preparing the groundwork a thorough examination of what film i had of the original station was going to take many hours as everything within these frames could harbour some clue as to where this railway station once stood or still stands. I had spent many hours searching the net for any stations which resembled what i had in front of me as well as many books. There were some stations which did fit the picture but there was always something which was missing or slight differences. Now we must realise that 62 years on there are going to be significant changes to structure if the station still stands but the actual architecture will not have changed that much.
While searching for this lost station i was shocked at the massive cull of British railway stations and just how many have disappeared. The land which those stations once stood are either pasture grazing land or have been redeveloped and are now either housing estates or trading estates or childrens playgrounds, or even car parks.
There were many characteristics about the slides of film that i had in that this station was definitely south of the United Kingdom, I had a gut feeling that it was around the Devonshire area somewhere but where?
I had taken on a professional who examined the pictures i had, These pictures were closely examined by him and it was learned the building i was looking for had two roof tops which i can explain as a triangle at each being the high points of the roofs, then joined in the middle by a flat roof.
This theory as i was much later to learn was in fact wrong I will explain in more detail later.
I had driven many miles checking out different stations all of which did not fit. However one station which i finally found striking was Dulverton Station which also was known as Brushford Station. Built by the late Lord Carnarvon of the same family who are famous for the fact that it was the earlier Lord Carnarvon who had discovered the tomb of the Egyptian King Tutankhamen. The station is adjacent to another famous building The Carnarvon Arms hotel which was also built by the Lord to serve as his hunting lodge but also as a hotel for his new bustling market as well as the railway as a Guest house.The station still stands today.There is a lot of history connected to Brushford as well as the Carnarvon famly including the railway itself. But too much detail for me to go into here. The station and its site has been redeveloped , there are some houses which have been built upon the land. The station is now owned by Mr.Skilton who is carefully restoring it back to its former glory and is doing his best to keep to the traditional design of the building. This dwelling i am told will be his home and i wish Mr.Skilton all the best in his project. The Carnarvon Arms also still stands adjacent to the station however this now as with the station is Private Property. I was very excited when i finally found this station but this excitement was to be shortlived as this was not the station used in the film. There were many differences as you can see when you are able to study the pictures on this site. but you will also agree with me that there were good similarities.
There was however one other station which might fit the bill but my problem was the photograph i had of that station did not show much of the station in great detail.The station i am talking about is Bampton as with Dulverton station it is in Exmoor Devonshire. I also had access to a model of this station and it looked very promising as this station had two roof tops but seemed structured differently given the fact the front of the station where you would think was an alcove was in fact closed in. This model is on display at the Bickleigh railway museum. The model was made by the Rev Donald Clarridge. You can see the pictures of Bampton as it is now which i am including in this website along with Bishops Nympton & Molland.The other station you will see later in this page is the most valuable as it is the station that was used for the Ealing Studio's Film The Halfway House.
The negatives with this station outweighed the positives yet again. The positives were the bridge it was the same bridge as in the film and the distance from the station platform was about correct. Dulverton station however the bridge was much closer to the platform, but it was also on an angle to which the bridge i was looking for was not. Bampton also had another platform on the other side of the railway tracks this platform looked like the one in the film as there was a same hut, the trees in the background looked the same. Dulverton station also had similar trees near the platforms. I had no choice but to state that Bampton was also not the station used this was frustrating to say the least and i almost gave up on the idea of ever finding the station.
The breakthrough came when re examining the film frames, I had also noted previously that an attempt had been made by the film makers to remove the logo from the side of the locomotive but it was still just about visible. The part which the film makers failed to remove was the logo on the carriages which is in view for a number of seconds this logo being GWR(Great Western Railway) or also known as Gods Wonderful Railway.
There was also something else which did not warrant further investigation this was writing clearly seen on the door that Richard opens prior to exiting his carriage. When the camera is relocated to show Richard leaving the Carriage he then closes the door once his daughter has got out, the writing is now gone.
The train was identified by Julien Evers as a 43xxMogul so we had all the information we needed as to the locomotive and what line the locomotive ran on. Now we could pin point exactly where this station could be.
It was then that the biggest find of all was sitting there all the time! The professional which had told me i was looking for a station which had two roof tops and a flat roof in between was in fact wrong. There appeared to be a larger building behind the station which was obscured by the station. This building was much larger in scale then the station but the scale was also being exaggerated by some other point either a slight hill top that this building was situated on or something else which was not yet identified. But no matter what this station had one high pointed roof and not two although i can see how this feature had tricked this individual.
I then discovered that there were two more railway stations which had been long forgotten and had drifted out of public use as these stations were also closed around the early 1960's because of falling demand for the use of the railway in that roads were now being constructed so that goods could be carried by road rather than by rail which was not cost effective. The fall in demand by the public in using the railway meant that many stations as well as the land they were built on were sold off either to be redeveloped as housing estates, park land, car parks, or even children's playgrounds. Many stations were demolished and basically wiped off the map but mainly those deep in the country side were the unfortunate targets of this cull.
The two stations that finally came to my atention were East Anstey, Bishops Nympton & Molland. After viewing one photograph in particular i made the most valuable connection that i had earlier found. East Anstey station on looking at this one picture there was a larger building behind up on a slight hill, this seemed to match the photograph still from the film and definitely warranted further investigation. I also planned to include Bampton, as well as the Bishops Nympton sites in this investigation which has now been concluded.
Firstly let us deal with Bishops Nympton, The station is actually based in Molland quite a distance from Bishops Nympton it is right next to the Public House called the Black Cock Inn. (See the Pictures of This Beautiful Public house). The owners of this property especially the daughter was very helpful in giving me some details of this area. In this Public house they have a book of which the landlord so i am told is proud to show off. This book depicts most of the stations around the Barnstaple Exe Valley line most of which have have either been sold off or demolished. In this book is a very good illustration of Dulverton Station. East Anstey station in this book however was disappointing.
It was just after this visit to the public house that i walked across to what was once the railway station at Molland and met the owner of the property Mr Robin North who was keen to help as well as his friend. Although very similar to East Anstey station this was not the station used in the film although i knew this before arriving there. I had to get pictures of this old station to which i was kindly given permission to take. If you look at the roof as well as the building you will see that this was in fact how the station looked within the film and what East Anstey should look like today despite some of its alterations which are detailed later. Molland station was wrong as the goods shed was completely different so has been safely ruled out.ADDITONAL INFORMATION
East Anstey station was by far the most popular favourite as the clues there were striking in detail to that of the original film as on close comparison there were many inviting features to warrant a full personal investigation of the property if it still stood today, as i was comparing the slides i had with that of two pictures which were taken in the early 1960's.
Not knowing what i was going to be faced with i made the journey to find and view the area where i was hopeful the station would still be standing or at least some of it. On arriving in East Anstey i drove across the railway bridge a quick look over this bridge on both sides soon revealed to me that this was in fact the railway bridge which is just in view in the film. I could make out amongst the trees and undergrowth down below where once the railway lines ran. I picked out the top of the roof of what appeared to me to be the station. Quickly gathering my items and camera equipment i walked down a track towards the station passing the large house on my right hand side which i had seen in one of the photographs this was the large house which was hiding behind the station on the film slides.I had seen this large house when pearing over the railway bridge and the back of this house was almost at the edge of a steep drop approx 20ft or more below. This house was the Station masters house and is still called the Station House. although it does look different to that of the large house i saw in the pictures. On arriving at the station i noted differences to one of the roof tops. This had the two roof tops i was told about by the professional but something was not correct about one of the roof tops because it did not seem original in fact the roof had been elevated to accomodate an attic or storage space. There was some indication of building work having been done as the far wall had been re pointed. For those not familiar with this term the mortar between each stone or brick which ever you wish to term had been refilled with mortar so sealing the wall. I also noticed that bricks rather than original stone had been used to elevate this roof although almost the same colour they were not original.
I tried to summon the owners and could see clearly that this was a persons home, there were unfortunately nobody at home to ask permission to view the property. I noticed that the Goods Shed was still standing and this was also home to someone. After knocking at the door and presenting my self i was greeted by a Mr.Lawman he obviously had no knowledge that his home had also featured in part within this film. He told me that this Station house was now owned by a Mr Peter Edwards. I could not ask for permission to view the outside of the property. I did however wait around for Mr Edwards to turn up but my time there was very tight so i had no choice but to carefully view this station and take photographs of it without disturbing any property of Mr Edwards, treating his home with the greatest of respect.
Mr Lawman had already granted me permission to view his building and to take photographs it was detrimental to this project that i secured these pictures. Mr Edwards may not know that his dwelling is in fact a famous unknown property used in the making of Ealing Studio's The Halfway House and that i have now brought this discovery to his attention through this site. Many of the actors who had in fact been at his home 62 years before had now passed on., but one particular actress is still alive today Sally Ann Howes better known for her starring role in Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang with Dick Van Dyke. And one of the all time favourites Director Basil Dearden had also been at that station, famous for his films as Ealing Studio's The Dead Of Night of which Sally Ann Howes also starred, although other directors were also involved in the making of that film. One of his other less known films is The Man Who Haunted Himself with Roger Moore.
Obviously as i have stated previously there are going to be some major or minor differences in structure to the building although much of the architecture will still be the same. Please compare the photographs i have taken with that of the film stills from the original film and see for yourself that there is no denying it this is in fact the correct station.
The extension which has been added to the property is not original the same brick used for the roof elevation has been used. If you were to look at the Molland station this would be how it should look. These two stations more so than any other are very similar in detail although by one of other factors there was the large house on the slight hill as well as the goods shed to which at Molland was completely different to that of the shed in the film.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank all those people who had given me permission to invade on their private land and be able to conduct my investigations without hindrance.
I hope and trust that Mr Edwards is excited that he owns a property which had more historical value then he may have at first thought. I would like to take this opportunity in inviting Mr Edwards to contact me but also to thank him and trust that he did not mind me taking photographs of his home.
As to the railway bridge there were two very close to each other i know that the bridge i was in fact stood on was the first, The second bridge has gone. Unfortunately i was not able to get to the bottom of this bridge and view up or around the area where the locomotives at one time used to pass along as the area is very overgrown with trees brambles, and other undergrowth. The actual entrance i chose which was the only route i could take down to where the line at one time ran was very dangerous and the earth was not stable enough to get to the bottom without broken bones. But i have included a picture of the tunnel to the bridge so far as i could get to. You will also see other pictures which will give you some indication on how over grown this area really is.
My search for this long lost station is now at an end. Mr Edwards is the proud owner of the station used in this very rare film and i must say if it were mine and i knew this i would be very excited.