Home > Films > F > Flame In The Streets

Thursday December 13th 2018

Flame In The Streets | 1961

Flame In The Streets filming location: Clarence Way, Chalk Farm, London
Flame In The Streets location: the modest terraced home of the Palmer family: Clarence Way, Chalk Farm, London NW1

Hot Summer Night, a TV play by Ted Willis (socially concerned creator of the long-running Dixon Of Dock Green TV series) is adapted for the screen but transposed to a cold winter night, as it’s set on November 5th, Bonfire Night in the UK.

It’s one of a clutch of films (Sapphire, Victim, The L-Shaped Room) tackling social issues of the early Sixties but unusually made in the luxury of CinemaScope.

Pre-dating Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? By 16 years, Flame In The Streets follows a similar but grittier pattern as union leader Jacko Palmer (John Mills) defends co-worker Gabriel Gomez (Earl Cameron) against racial discrimination at work, then having to face his own racism when he discovers his daughter Kathie (Sylvia Syms) wants to marry Jamaican teacher Peter Lincoln (Johnny Sekka).

It’s set around the same area as Robert Hamer’s It Always Rains On Sunday, in the side streets between Camden and Chalk Farm, Northwest London, and uses a couple of the same locations.

Flame In The Streets filming location: Camden Centre for Learning, Harmood Street, Chalk Farm, London NW1
Flame In The Streets location: the school at which Kathie and Peter teach: Camden Centre for Learning, Harmood Street, Chalk Farm, London NW1

Kathie and Peter both work at Hawley Secondary School, now Camden Centre for Learning, Harmood Street at Clarence Way, Chalk Farm NW1.

Not far away, the Palmers’ house is 60 Clarence Way, the same street that became ‘Coronet Grove, Bethnal Green’ in It Always Rains On Sunday.

Surprisingly close (since the Palmer family doesn’t seem to know him) lives Peter Lincoln, just across Clarence Way at 60 Hawley Road.

Flame In The Streets filming location: Hawley Road, Chalk Farm, London
Flame In The Streets location: the run-down boarding house : Hawley Road, Chalk Farm, London NW1

This house, too, featured in It Always Rains On Sunday, and oddly was also home to struggling actor Dexter King (Jeff Goldblum) in Mel Smith’s 1989 comedy, The Tall Guy. In Flame... it’s a run-down boarding house rented to black and mixed-race families, in the days when discrimination was rife and immigrants were shockingly limited in their choice of accommodation.

Flame In The Streets filming location: Castlehaven Open Space, Chalk Farm, London NW1
Flame In The Streets location: the derelict space where the locals gather around the bonfire: Castlehaven Open Space, Chalk Farm, London NW1

The area has, like Notting Hill, become unrecognisably gentrified in the last decades. Many of the surrounding streets have been demolished. The derelict space where the locals gather around the bonfire, and the racist youths are determined to stir up trouble, is now Castlehaven Open Space.

In the background, as Gabriel Gomez patiently explains the tradition of Guy Fawkes Night – presumably for US audiences – stood The Stag’s Head, 35 Hawley Road at Hawley Street, which closed its doors in 1995 and has since become flats.

Surviving rather better, a little further along the road, though not seen in the film, is the Hawley Arms, which sprang to fame as a hangout for rockstars, wannabe rockstars and starry-eyed tourists, then as the regular hangout of singer Amy Winehouse, who could occasionally be found pulling pints behind the bar.

Flame In The Streets filming location: Regent's Canal, Camden Town, London NW1
Flame In The Streets location: Kathie and Peter walk along the muddy towpath: Regent's Canal, Camden Town, London NW1

Dreaming of a future in Montego Bay, Kathie and Peter walk along the muddy towpath of the Regent’s Canal, between Royal College Street and St Pancras Way, Camden Town NW1. The terrace of rundown houses has been replaced with modern flats, but The Constitution pub, which you can see by the bridge, is a survivor (having recently celebrated its 150th birthday).