GB / US
Dir: Chris Columbus
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson
Harry Potter ignores warnings not to return to Hogwarts
The Harry Potter films, all based on the fantasy novels of the same name by J K Rowling, have proved just as popular as the books themselves though at well over 2 hours in length they are perhaps just a little too elaborate with almost every contemporary British actor and actress having starred in at least one. Anyone who has read the popular children’s series knows that the ride on the ‘Hogwarts Express’ starts from King’s Cross railway station’s Platform 9¾, which is hidden from view and reached by walking through a brick arch between platforms 9 and 10. Rowling discovered after the books were published that she had confused the layout of King’s Cross with that of Euston station, and that platforms 9 and 10 at King’s Cross were not the ones between which she had meant her magical platform to be placed. There is no platform between lines 9 and 10 at King’s Cross and to solve this, the filmmakers re-numbered platforms 4 and 5 for the duration of filming. In reality, at both King’s Cross and Euston, platforms 9 and 10 are separated by railway lines. Today, a ‘Platform 9¾’ sign is affixed to the wall of the western departures concourse above a luggage trolley that is disappearing into the wall. Just as well known is the ‘Hogwarts Express’, the magical train that carries students non-stop from Platform 9¾ to Hogsmeade, the station closest to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (to give the school its correct title). Warner Bros. Pictures hired preserved ex-GWR ‘Hall’ Class 4-6-0 No.5972 Olton Hall and a rake of maroon-liveried Mk.1 coaching stock from West Coast Railway Company at Carnforth for filming and the train makes an appearance in all of the Harry Potter films. For this prestigious role, Olton Hall was repainted red and renamed Hogwarts Castle, which no doubt caused much stamping of feet and shaking of fists by GWR aficionados who not only saw a green loco become a red one, but a ‘Hall’ change identity to a ‘Castle’! The loco and stock also had ‘HOGWARTS RAILWAYS’ branding based on the traditional BR emblems. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was the second of these highly successful adaptations and not only utilised the same locations that featured in the first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (qv), but also introduced the viewer to Glenfinnan Viaduct for the first time. The big railway scene was a computer-enhanced sequence in which the main characters swoop over No.5972 and train on Glenfinnan Viaduct in their flying Ford Anglia car, now one of the most familiar movie scenes in recent times. Glenfinnan Viaduct is on the West Highland Line in Glenfinnan, Lochaber, Scotland. Located at the top of Loch Shiel in the West Highlands, the viaduct overlooks the Glenfinnan Monument and the waters of Loch Shiel. The graceful, curving, mass concrete structure has 21 arches, is 416 feet long and crosses the River Finnan at a height of 100 feet. The viaduct was already well-known to rail enthusiasts but its appearance in three of the Harry Potter films means that it is now instantly recognisable to plenty the world over as ‘the Harry Potter Viaduct’. As well as the viaduct, King’s Cross station was again used with No.5972 and some GNER-liveried Mk.4 coaches in the background. Also, St. Pancras station was used for the station exterior shots as it is much more visually dramatic than its next door neighbour.