Paddington Station in Paddington
Date posted: 01.11.2014
Directed by Paul King (The Mighty Boosh) and based on the beloved children's books by Michael Bond, the polite little bear from darkest Peru makes his way to the big screen in Paddington, released 28 November.
It wasn't difficult to decide which of the many London locations used should be the subject of this month's profile - it had to be the bear's namesake, Paddington Station.
A sticky situation
The story is well known: the Brown family (Hugh Bonneville and Sally Hawkins) come across a lost and confused bear with a penchant for marmalade (voiced by Ben Whishaw) at Paddington Station. When they see a label around his neck saying "Please look after this bear", they decide to take him in, and name him Paddington.
The film sees Paddington getting into all kinds of chaotic adventures as he discovers his new London home. Meanwhile, the villainous Millicent (Nicole Kidman) plots to capture him for her own evil ends!
Unexpected delays - avoided!
Given the story, the desire to film in Paddington Station was inevitable. But this was to be one of the biggest shoots ever attempted at the busy station so, as Location Manager Jonah Coombes, explains: "We knew we were going to have to present extensive proposals for how to shoot the sequence and get the best out of the beautiful station."
"Paddington Bear was a real joy to work on," reflects Felicity Jump, Filming Manager at Network Rail who helped make the shoot at Paddington Station happen. "[A]lthough it's fair to say we had some challenges".
Perhaps the biggest issue the team faced was timing, as renovation works were planned at the exact time the production wanted to film. "Thankfully", Jump continues, when unexpected delays were caused to the renovation, "we were able to accommodate the filming in the exact places they loved!"
A resounding success
Meticulous planning between the production, crew and the location team ensured smooth filming, with both Jump and Coombes praising the collaboration.
"Our dedicated staff at Paddington and our colleagues at First Great Western worked closely with Jonah and the rest of the Production for almost a year," explained Jump. Coombes confirms the importance of communication, saying that the production was able to meet its brief thanks to "months of planning and problem-solving with Felicity Jump at Network Rail and Terry Baker and the Management Teams at Paddington Station, together with the Operations Team at First Great Western."
For Jump and the station staff, it was a challenge, but one they were happy to take on. Long hours, including several weekends and overnight shoots were the order of the day. Jump says, "Some of our staff even slept on site to ensure the filming went smoothly!"
Despite the Production pushing the boundaries of what was possible, Coombes explains that by "building trust through a collaborative working relationship, we all worked together to do the best we could for the Film, and the station, and it really was a resounding success." Working like this, he says, gave "the Production an opportunity to really celebrate this iconic moment in Paddington's life-story."
To make the shoot work the team had to undertake complicated train movements and make room for large cranes. All of it proved worthwhile, and Jump says the team are "thrilled" with the result.
She was delighted that the Production was able to shoot at the location, saying: "It's great to see the station looking so atmospheric, and I hope generations of children are going to enjoy visiting the station where the famous bear was discovered."
About the location
Paddington Station was first opened in 1854, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It consists of a triple roof of wrought iron and glass, supported by cast iron pillars, with a fourth newer span constructed in steel.
The Great Western Hotel, also built in 1854, sits at the front of the station. The station has recently benefited from a major redevelopment, including::
- New customer information system
- New platform surfaces
- A new shopping, eating and waiting area called "The Lawn".
Other films to have shot here include About Time and All Things to All Men.
Film at Paddington Station
To film at the Station, please contact:
T: 020 7904 7375
M: 07887 896 411
Paddington is released nationwide on 28 November.