Created on 04 March 2017

FILM – Brief Encounter

When Peter Brown identified the re-used opening footage of Brief Encounter (1945) as the opening footage for the film Wrong Number (1959) late last month he took the opportunity to say that he had never been persuaded by the well recorded fact that it was taken at Watford Junction. Needless to say, I couldn’t let that go without enquiring further because even if Watford Junction is popularly recorded elsewhere we here at ReelStreets like our published facts to be correct. We also accept that we are human!

As I am persuaded by Peter’s “argument”, and having done a little research myself I thought that on the basis that we have many railway workers and enthusiasts as contributors to the Website we should open up the subject for discussion and perhaps settlement. 

 Brief Encounter (be001)


 Wrong Number (wronum001)


Additional shot showing features under discussion.


Peter’s initial observation to me was that the film sequence showed signal posts, a signal box and a large water tank. He then referred me to a 1960’s picture of Carnforth showing those same items in a reverse p.o.v.    This picture does withstand enlargement.


Both in that picture and in the film the platform canopy extends to the end of the platform. Peter does not believe that Watford Junctions canopies ever extended far down the platform.

There is a very good aerial shot of Watford Junction (1951) on Britain from Above (Ref: EAW038560) which clearly shows that canopies did not reach the end of the platform. In addition, there is no tower or signal box and the signal gantry is different.


The light and roof in this extract from the opening credit sequence of the film compares favourably


with this extract from when Stanley Holloway crosses the line at Carnforth (accepted location).



Peter has found this interesting YouTube clip ( which at 1.15 clearly shows a double bracket signal, a water tower and a signal box. It should perhaps also be noted that the double gantry platform lighting column seen in the film clips also appear at the other end of the platform at 1.40

In addition, a further YouTube clip ( at 3.18 shows a goods train approaching Carnforth. Although the starting signal bracket is obscured by the taller home signal bracket, the water tower and signal box appear to be in recognizable positions.

I propose to “run” this article as a Blog Forum and add comments and any support material (as able to) in date sequence in order that those interested can follow any discussion as it unfolds. It would be of great assistance to me if you would include "Brief Encounter" into the "subject" of any email communication. 

7th March 2017

James Churcher writes:

Having just had a very brief look at the website link I am inclined to say that the scenes looking down the platform towards the water tower and signal box are at Carnforth facing south towards the Lancaster direction.

Everything seems to be in the right place for it to be Carnforth because there was a watering facility on the down side (near to the station goods sidings, the site of which is now a larger parking area for the station) and the Network Rail buildings in use today is near enough on the site of the original mechanical box. What I have noticed when visiting Carnforth over the years is that the mainline platform faces (for west coast use northbound to Oxenholme and south to Lancaster) have been removed and the track bed and alignment altered slightly to accommodate the overhead wires and increase line speeds. Some of this was obviously done in the northern section of the west coast electrification in 1974 but i think there was a period of alterations again in the 1980's and or 90's. The view from where the camera was positioned in 1945 is obscured by green railings that overlook the fast lines of the west coast where the original platforms used to be.

I will have a more detailed look next time i visit the website and see if i can make anything else out.