A Brief Encounter in Carnforth
It’s almost 70 years since Brief Encounter was made yet this story of forbidden, yearning love still moves modern audiences to tears. The movie follows the story of a chance meeting between two married people in a railway station café. Regular encounters over a cup of tea follow and the pair soon fall madly in love. That love, however, must remain unrequited.
Looking back, this understated tale has an added poignancy as it was filmed during the latter stages of World War II, a time when lovers were forced apart - some never to return.
Director David Lean and female lead Celia Johnson - playing housewife Laura Jesson - were nominated for Oscars for their parts in the production. And the movie earned a third nomination for best screenplay. But for some the real star of the show was a small trackside station in Lancashire: Carnforth, which was used as the backdrop for many scenes. The station’s famous clock - a reminder of time counting down every meeting between the movie’s lovestruck duo - remains in pride of place on the platform. And many fans of the film flock to the station’s café to sup a cuppa, gaze into each other’s eyes and soak up the atmosphere.
At the moment there’s an extra special reason to visit Carnforth. To mark the 70th anniversary of Brief Encounter, the station’s heritage centre is hosting an exhibition celebrating the life and work of David Lean. It’s free and fascinating, thanks partly to a number of unseen images that offer a glimpse behind the scenes of the film. The initial encounter may have been brief, but Lean’s legacy will doubtless endure.
Image credit: © Ian Dganall / Alamy
Secret space in York opens to public
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the ancient but compact centre of York has few remaining unexplored corners, but you’d be wrong. While renovating and extending the York Art Gallery in preparation for its reopening in August, contractors uncovered a large site behind the building, which was last used by the public over 100 years ago.
The two-acre area was once part of the gallery’s Great Hall, a large exhibition space open from 1879 until it was closed due to safety concerns in 1909. It was destroyed in an air raid in 1942. Prior to the site’s use as York Art Gallery, it formed part of St Mary’s Abbey - ruins of which can be visited nearby - in medieval times and used as pasture and orchards.
Taking a cue from its historical use, York Museums Trust now intends to open the space up to the public as an artist’s garden and wood, full of fruit and vegetable-bearing plants and trees.
Alison Pringle, gardens manager for York Museums Trust, says the redevelopment will use turf and York stone to create a terrace and pathways through the garden, which will also feature sweet violet, Chilean guava, Chinese quince and Szechuan pepper plants.
“For a long time it was orchards and pasture owned by the abbey, so in a way the creation of an edible wood will hark back to the area’s past. This site is truly a hidden corner of York’s city centre which we can’t wait to reveal to the public.”
The development is part of an £8million programme to expand the gallery’s exhibition space, which will have a new first-floor entrance leading into the gardens. The new site will link the gallery to the existing York Museum Gardens - which contain the museum and remains of St Mary’s - and the River Ouse.
The gallery will boast seven exhibition spaces to house a collection that ranges from 17th century Dutch masterpieces to 20th century works by David Hockney. There’s also a new home for the Centre of Ceramic Art in the original Victorian roof space.
The gallery and gardens will open on 1st August with a new show featuring rarely-seen paintings of York by LS Lowry. For a city full of historical treasures, the new gardens provide a chance to see an area of York that has remained off-limits for much of the last millennia. As an urban oasis it promises a uniquely fascinating, vaguely magical retreat.
Be part of an aural celebration of the seaside
Close your eyes and listen. The noises around us - the hum of a high-speed train, the sipping of a delicious hot chocolate or the laughter of friends sharing a new adventure… They all paint an evocative picture of our everyday experiences. Sound tells stories that pictures can’t. And sound disconnected from images can creep into our consciousness while we stare at the world around us, read a book or tap away at our laptop.
It’s this power that is being harnessed for a new project from the National Trust and the British Library - the power to record sounds that capture our experiences. Sounds of Our Shores is a community-led venture that invites anyone to record audio from near the sea and then upload it using website Audioboom. Don’t worry - there are easy-to-follow instructions on the website if you’re not the most techy.
The collected sounds will then be used to create an audio map of our coastline which will be hosted on the British Library’s website as a permanent snapshot of summer 2015. Given how dramatically our seaside towns have changed over the years, the idea behind the project is to capture the sounds before they disappear.
When all the sounds are captured, they’ll be sifted through by music legend Martyn Ware - a founding member of The Human League and Heaven 17 - like a salty box of seaside treasures. He’ll then stitch them together to make a new musical composition. So this is not just your chance to have fun and do your bit for preserving our heritage for posterity, you could also taste a tiny bit of rock stardom in the mix too.
Time, then, to jump on the train and head to the coast. But what will your contribution to the project sound like? The ker-ching of Blackpool slot machines? Waves lapping the shore at Scarborough? The cry of seabirds on the sands of Cleethorpes? How about the crunch of batter at you tuck into some fine Grimsby fish and chips? What will your sound be?
Image credit: © Chris Cooper-Smith / Alamy