Last Alteration: Friday 12 April 2013

Good Hunting ...

This journal records a personal trip to visit Doctor Who locations around the country/world (and beyond?!).

16th April 2007 - The War Games (Disk Two)

With a bright and sunny day before us, a trip to the seaside was in order! For this particular trip we had Telscombe Cliffs and Brighton Beach in mind, picking up on a couple of missed points from the previous trip to this part of the south coast back in March. Though of course as usual our estimation of time at each place was to be vastly under-estimated and one seaside front was to be abandonned for another day!

First on the list was to revisit Friston Forest and see if we could pin down where filming had taken place on the Eastbourne Waterboard Road. The trip down towards Eastbourne proved to be uneventful; I had thought that the GPS estimation of 2 and a bit hours to get there seemed rather long, but in the end it was pretty much spot on! The main problem with roads south is that many turn into single carriageway and there will always be the caravans, lorries and mobile lawnmowers to contend with along the way! Then there was the question of where to park, as noting that the car park cost had gone up 50p in a month(!), I thought there might be somewhere a little better. However, nearby estates are private (and don't encourage "non-locals" to park on their shiny streets), and though I discovered a National Trust car park (Crowlink) I didn't have my car parking sticker - doh! Mind you, that would still have been a fair walk back to the Friston Forest so in the end it was back to the forest car park after all!

The trees brought a pleasant shade to the walk through the forest, and all the local wildlife we met were friendly (these being of the canine dog-walking and cycling kind!), and the journey to the waterboard buildings was pretty easy going. However, this was tempered by the invisibility of any landmarks that would place the screenshots of this area. Assuming the farm building seen on screen really is on this road it now appears to have gone completely. My assumption is that it may have been part of the Friston Place estate (which still has farm buildings on the grounds) that has since been demolished, maybe for some of the rather expensive looking homes here now! So it would seem this location would remain elusive, sigh.

After the pleasant hour wandering around the forest, it was time to move off to Telscombe Cliffs. The coastal road (A259) from Eastbourne to Brighton passes some stunning scenery, which of course includes the Seven Sisters Country Park visited last time. Along this route are also the towns of Seaford and Newhaven, both of which didn't seem too busy, but also had a number of new roundabouts my GPS didn't know about (unless there was a cunning plan to direct me to McDonalds!). Slight detour aside, the journey to Saltdean and Telscombe Cliffs passed very quickly, and once parked up it was time for the beach!

The beach along the shore on the south coast here really consists of lots of rock pools intermingled through the sand and larger chunks of chalk that have been eroded from the cliffs over time, creating a remarkably 'alien' shoreline that worked so well in Mindwarp. The point here at Saltdean marks the most easterly point of the Undercliff - a three mile stretch of promenade which runs along the base of the cliffs to Brighton Marina. Pity I didn't realise this at the time, as Emma and I walked quite a way along it before we concluded that it was 'endless' and so unlikely that we'd find bare cliffside this way.

So it was back to where we started, and in the shelter of the cliffs we'd both got quite hot and about to give up, when I wondered whether it could have been in the other (east) direction. After some umming and ahhing we decided to give it a go! My hunch proved correct as the Undercliff peters out a few hundred yards further along, and a slope led down onto the shore. Serendipity had struck and the tide was out, so this meant it was relatively easy to make our way around the cliff into the next 'bay' - not that we were the first as there were a few families in the process of exmining rock pools around the corner!

Looking at the cliffs here, I'm not 100% sure it's exactly where filming took place, since erosion has had its fair share of cliffside in the last couple of decades (some fencing fallen on the rocks below show some very recent collapse). The two edges we had passed here looked a pretty good match, and I hardly expected the film crew would want to traipse hundreds of yards on this rocky terrain to set up. There was even a cave mouth, though a lot smaller than the one on-screen! There are a number of caves apparently along the coastline courtesy of the sea, so it was always possible that the actual one would be further around the cliffs ... if it hadn't been eroded away completely!

Next on the agenda was a rubbish tip! Fortunately this is a tip that has not been used for decades and been left to nature to turn it into the park making up the Sheepcote Valley. As such, I wasn't really expecting to recognise anything, but the general lay of the hills (of rubbish!) might help in some way. In the end I had to settle for some generic shots of the area, mainly of the distance.

The next War Games location was High Park Farm, which was private so it was unlikely that we'd see a match, so after a brief stop to take a photo of the view from the gates it was off to our final destination, a bridlepath on Underhill Lane. Typically there are two bridlepaths, one at each end of the lane! Fortunately documentation indicates that it was the Clayton end, so after a brief look at the other path (where the hills clearly looked wrong) we headed to the village and then up the path to the hills!

This was another of those locations that clearly looks "right", but when you come to compare the shots with what's in front of you nothing really matches up. I wasn't sure whether to put this down to hill erosion or not, as there clearly had been quite a bit, plus the undergrowth had taken hold around the hills. In then end I managed to find where Jamie was chased by the civil war horseman, but the subsequent scene amongst the hills wasn't so apparant.

The scenes where the ambulance is ambushed during episode three were also annoyingly unrecognisable. The path leading up the hill did look a likely candidate, but I wasn't totally convinced by the surrounding hill layout. The photo I eventually used looks about right. If you ever visit and have better luck in lining things up please let me know!!!

8th March 2007 - The War Games (disk one)

I'd decided to split today into two parts. The first part would be to pick up the locations around Crowborough, and then to travel down to the South coast and find locations from The Wargames.

First up in Crowborough was the MOD training camp that featured in The Curse of Fenric. Being this was private I initially didn't expect to see anything other than the front gate. However, when researching the area I came across a country walk which runs in the area, and one anecdote mentioned walking down a lane from which you could see the huts. I tracked this down to Warren Road, which though it is a private road it is also a public footpath, so we drove as close as we could publicly get to it, parking up on Rannoch Road and then walking the rest of the way. We were quite surprised at how good the view was once we made it there, though it was impossible to tell whether the various huts in sight were actually used in the show or not!

Next up was the nearby Sussex Police training centre, which used to be a telegraph station at the time castrovalva was filmed. The tall antenna was a great landmark, visible for miles (including from Warren Road), but ultimately once we got there it was the only recognisable feature! Being that it is a police training centre I didn't think there was much chance to get inside, but the imposing closed gates were still a little off-putting. We parked up in one of the forest car parks and then walked back to the fences surrounding the site, but having walked a fair way around them we couldn't really see anything else so gave up on that idea, meaning a photo of the antenna would have to suffice.

I did think about asking if I could have a look, but not only were the gates were a bit formidable but when I pulled up another car was just about to leave and the guard with the large god put me right off that idea, so it was time to head into War Games territory!

The next location on the agenda was the village of Westdean near the East Sussex coast, or more in particular the lane leading into the village. The village itself is a little strange in that this lane is the only route into it, as it nestles within the Friston Forest. During exceptional rain it can get cut off as the road floods! The lane itself has a field on one side and the forest on the other, and it was pretty easy to spot where filming most likely took place for where the Doctor and Zoe intercept a staff car, though roadside trees had since grown up. The place where the ambulance travels along was a little harder to identify, though I think we got it in the end - hoorah!

The next plan was the Eastbourne Waterboard Road; this appeared to be along a bridlepath that ran out of the village through the forest, but after a couple of miles walking we were beginning to think this wasn't that case. Some dog-walkers were able to confirm the waterboard was indeed at the end of the path, but in the end we gave it up as a bad job, as there was nothing that really looked like what we had from the screen shots.

So it was a long trek back, but we decided to walk through the forest to the main road, which meant we more easily reached the Seven Sisters Country Park. Finally a location that actually still looks like how it did during filming! The very flat valley means that the river meanders its way through in a very distinctive way that hasn't changed in many decades. Being a park, it hasn't altered much either so the road/trail was easy to spot, too. The only awkward bit was where the ambulance backs into the fog to escape the Romans - the road layout didn't seem to match too well but in the end I assumed it must have been quite a low camera position to achieve the shot. The jury's still out on this one!

The final location for today (being it was March it was getting dark quite early still) was Birling Manor Farm. This was one of those places that clearly looks similar to what the screen shots show, but practically nothing actually lines up with them! Being on the side of the road it was possible to walk around the boundary on one side; this revealed one building that could be recognised, where Jamie and the Redcoat try to make their escape, but that was about it. There was also a bridlepath on the other side which helped to see the other side of the farm, but this was to no avail either. In the end I concluded that the filming most likely took place close to the manor house itself - this is a private house which is used for weddings, and a number of apartments have been built for guests which might have filled up the field areas seen on screen - too many high walls don't really help either!

So that was it for today. I had a grandious plan to visit all of the War Games locations in one day, but as usual underestimated the time needed to find them, so I'll have to find the rest next time!

24th February 2007 - The Art of Destruction

19th February

No matter how much you can steal yourself for disappointment, it still has its ability to insinuate your mood when finally revealed. This was the case for me when I eventually reached what remained of the Guinness Factory in Park Royal has its ability to insinuate your mood when finally revealed. This was the case for me when I eventually reached what remained of the Guinness Factory in Park Royal. I knew that the site was under threat, but with all the preservation campaigns that were active I had kind of hoped that the building would have been granted a reprieve by owners Diageo. Alas, that hadn't been the case and


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all that now remains is a huge, very forlorn area of nothingness where the Giles Gilbert Scott creation used to sit. (What a relief that both Battersea and Bankside power stations are protected).

My first impression of the devastation was from the Central Line coming up to Hanger Lane. Having worked in the area for a couple of years around 2003 I had got used to the tall building imposing itself onto the skyline as the tube would rattle past, marking an appropriate moment to wrestle my coat back on for a cold welcome at the station. In some ways it would be like looking at London and suddenly realising the post office tower was no longer proudly erect over Fitzrovia (kitten activity notwithstanding!). So, my walk up Western Avenue to the site was filled with thoughts on what might still be there that would be recognisable. Somehow I hadn't expected that the entire site would have been razed, so once I was standing on the concourse outside Diageo headquarters it was quite surreal to see the piles of sand laid across the barren landscape when my own memories of the buildings there were still very strong. The remaining site gates seemed so solitary guarding the way to nothingness.

With all this destruction I'd expected that the old footpath around the


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site and across the private railway would also have gone; fortunately it still remains and so a long traipse down Coronation Road and back up Cumberland Avenue was not required. This, at least, mean that it is still easy to get to Conniston House, where the Doctor and Jamie were seen to break into Vaughn's headquarters back in The Invasion. The cluster of bare trees that remain in what used to be the railway goods yard stand in lonely vigil, which means they might just survive into whatever arises from the 'ashes' when the area is finally redeveloped.

Conniston House itself looks to be in good condition, and "For Sale" signs indicate that it has life in it yet, so there is still something of the story left for future generations of fans to visit ...

That depressing state of affairs over with, it was now time to move onto new things. I haven't been along to the BBC's Kendal Avenue premised before, so had little idea what to expect. Armed only with some snapshots of its use in Evil of the Daleks I wasn't too sure if any of what could be seen in these meagre shots would still exist. However, on a much more positive note the old depot warehouses are perfectly intact, though seeing them properly from the road was made tricky by the multitude of parked Outside Broadcast trailers alongside the fence! The petrol pumps in one shot weren't to be seen, but then if they still exist they are probably lurking around the back somewhere out of sight from the road itself.

It was also nice to see the Visual Effects Department buildings, even if one can't be privvy to what's being worked on inside ... though it was nice to imagine that maybe something from Season Three was being made as I stood on the pathway outside!

Next up was a brisk walk along to the next location, another demolished affair. At the time of Remembrance of the Daleks, Horn Lane used to have a Territorial Army Volunteer Centre. Not much more to say about it, other than since its demolition circa 2000 there is a now a block of flats! You can still find evidence of the TA's former existance with the Cadet Centre around the corner on Cresswick Road.


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Final stop on this tour of destruction was Birkbeck Road; as seen with the other Attack of the Cybermen former scrapyard, the one that used to be here is now new housing! The surrounding houses still essentially look the same, and the kerb still retains its curve into where Cameron Scrap Merchants used to be, but that is all that remains. You can be sneaky and look over the back wall from the platform at Acton Main Line Station but there isn't anything to see! As for the street itself, again it retains much of it's look, though with Birkbeck Court now built where the corrugated fence stood at the time of filming on the opposite side of the road to the scrapyard.

And the handy part of stopping the tour here was a train station leading right back to Stratford and healthy dose of mindless entertainment in Hot Fuzz (highly recommended!).

(and Emma still maintains that it was news presenter Huw Edwards on the tube who got off at White City!)

22nd February

Thinking about cinemas, the redevelopment at North Greenwich was on my agenda for today. The last time I'd been along this way heading towards the Odeon it was pretty dark, so I thought it was about time I finally tried to track down where Silver Nemesis was filmed.

Working out where the warehouses and waste ground were on the 'terraformed' East Greenwich peninsula would be a little more tricky - the only thing to go would be the background landmarks. The gas tower is a pretty obvious landmark and is clear in the scene it appears - however, the usual lensework of film cameras could make the distance away from it a little harder. Based on my own digital camera I estimated that it would most likely be to the east of the tower. The other handy landmarks on screen are the cylinders of Tate & Lyle and the old Dreadnought School buildings, which are present in the background for the Nazi/Cyberman battle in episode two. They too helped in working out where that scene might have been filmed.

The scenes that weren't so obvious were the warehouses - there didn't seem to be any shots filmed to connect their whereabouts to the ones with the wasteland. I eventually concluded that they were probably orginally where the eastern car parks were. However, I wasn't totally convinced and as the rain was making my screenshots blur I thought that it was probably time to move on!

Being the weather was pretty miserable I didn't fancy a long trip over to Wembley on the offchance something recognisable would still be there,

so I decided to go to Greenwich itself, where there was a much better chance of finding something that definitely was on screen! I discovered that there was a Thames Path that led to Greenwich, so I thought I'd give it a go. Though it started off a little precariously near the Blackwall Tunnel approach road, it soon turned off and reached the river. There was a little jetty nearby which affords a superb view of the riverbank down to Greenwich, and also of Canary Wharf (though perhaps not quite the Army of Ghosts angle!).

The Thames Path continues along the riverbank, weaving in and out of the piers and commercial activities alongside. The path actually passes right by the cylinders by Tate & Lyle (they have old signs marking them as part of "Tunnel Refineries"), and the origination of the "pong" very noticeable in this area is close by! The route is also regularly used by joggers (who perhaps weren't too happy about the drizzle), and I also passed an artist busy painting the opposite bank; there was even a jetty dedicated to growing moss!

The Thames Path leads straight to the Old Royal Naval College, former home to Royal Navy training and where the sixth Doctor finally got to meet the Brigadier! Well, if you consider Dimensions in Time to be canon, at any rate! Being a location of historical importance, it seems unlikely that the site will be demolished, though it is always possible that some "modern" art will insinuate itself onto the grounds. Fortunately this is not the case and everything is recognisable! As usual it can be quite astonishing to find out how tight filming shots can be - on screen you see the helicopter take off picking up the 3rd Doctor and then land somewhere else with the 6th Doctor, but in reality it flew 180° less than 40 yards!

With high definition the background will be much clearer, but from a 18 year old off-air video recording I hadn't clicked that the National Maritime Museum location can actually be seen from here, just on the hill across the road! Mind you, getting there involves a rather unhelpful pedestrian crossing (Romney Road was far too busy to consider the short route from gate to gate!). There is then the slightly awkward point that the two sets of arches on either side of Queen's House are identical, and if you don't know which was actually used in the story then there's a 50% chance of getting it right. It was raining quite hard at this point, so no prizes for guessing which one I went for first ...

So, for reference the arches on the left are the correct ones! The one handy thing about the weather was that at least there aren't hundreds of annoying tourists getting in the way of where you want to take a photo! Mind you, I did surprise an elderly couple who were quietly relaxing on a bench behind a pillar when I paced out the Rani's TARDIS position!


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Cutty Sark

Last up on the Greenwich list was the Cutty Sark, which I haven't been near since 1989 ... and not now either as it was (a) hidden behind lots of fence, and (b) in pieces! To say I was shocked was an understatement, as I'd completely forgotten that it is currently undergoing a full restoration! Ah well, I needed something to keep to the theme of destruction, even if only a temporary one!

23rd February

It wasn't until I looked through the photos at home that I realised that my angles weren't as good as I thought they were for the old gasworks. The distance between Dreadnought House and the Tate & Lyle cylinders was far too close, so my original position was too acute. I also realised that the Pilot Inn and the terrace next to it that I'd passed were actually were on screen, just about visible through the van window as Karl and De Flores are driving along. Furthermore, this shot also included the long pipe duct that just happened to be next to the warehouse in the other scenes, so I now had a reference point for where it might have been!

With a much more positive idea I decided to pop along to North Greenwich North Greenwich again. Taking into account both the Pilot Inn and Dreadnought House, I concluded that it was more likely that the warehouses used to stand close to or actually where the David Beckham Academy now stands. Certainly, from West Parkside the angles between buildings looked far more accurate.

Having spent a fair bit of Saturday researching the Greenwich Peninsula I eventually found a map of the gasworks circa 1955 on the Gasworks to Dome website, but that wasn't really clear enough to be certain; there were some aerial photographs, but I couldn't recognise any landmarks from them either!

Next stop, Wembley. This time it was on the agenda, though much to my consternation having put it off the day before because of the weather, it started to drizzle when I got there, ho hum!

When I reached Engineer's Way by Wembley Stadium, I was cautiously optimistic that the two remaining Palaces would still be there, being that I thought they were listed. Alas, this is not the case and they've now been flattened in favour of a temporary car park, according to some council minutes - to misquote a line from the tenth Doctor's non-companion, "how very dare they!". Another little bit of London's history consigned to memory.

Onto Third Way, and though I knew this


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site was pretty much demolished from previous visits, I hadn't really explored the roads around it, so this time I deciced to explore them all in order to make sure the scene where the dustcart is driven wasn't on First, Second, or Fourth Way instead. The tour didn't reveal anything exciting, but did serve to bring me to the bottom end of Third Way which I hadn't seen before, and the curve of the old road here did look possible, though the area has seen redevelopment - in fact, the whole area within the "Way"s seems to be undergoing industrial regeneration. At the northern end of Third Way, where the Government Pavilion used to preside, the Wembley works have now taken over the whole road, with a nice new fence blocking any access further along.

So, all-in-all, a week of finding sites that are now bereft of their Doctor Who "roots"; I guess in many ways we're quite lucky that there are as many sites still recognisable as they are some thirteen going on forty-three years later!

Next time I'm going somewhere I do recognise!


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