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Thursday June 21st 2018

Room At The Top | 1959

Room At The Top location: Bradford City Hall, Bradford, West Yorkshire
Room At The Top location: Joe Lampton aims for the top in ‘Warnley’: Bradford City Hall, Centenary Square, Bradford, West Yorkshire

The screech of a train whistle and Mario Nascimbene’s jazzy score heralded the arrival of the New Wave in Britain. And while Home Counties actors struggle embarrassingly with Northern accents, this adaptation of John Braine’s novel, about Joe Lampton (Laurence Harvey), a working class lad with a whole plate of chips on his shoulder, still packs a punch.

Room At The Top location: Halifax Station, Halifax, West Yorkshire
Room At The Top location: Joe Lampton arrives in ‘Warnley’: Halifax Station, Halifax, West Yorkshire

Many of the locations are surprisingly unchanged. The opening scene of Lampton arriving at the fictitious setting of 'Warnley Town' station uses Halifax Station, Halifax in West Yorkshire.

'Warnley' itself is the city of Bradford, about 5 miles northeast. A major textile manufacturing centre in the 19th century (dubbed the ‘Wool Capital of the World’), Bradford was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution. Much of the city’s grand Victorian architecture has been preserved, including the Italianate City Hall, Centenary Square, which is where Lampton works.

Room At The Top location: Cartwright Hall, Lister Park, Bradford, West Yorkshire
Room At The Top location: the dance: Cartwright Hall, Lister Park, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Since the decline in the textile industry, Bradford has emerged as a tourist destination with attractions such as the National Media Museum and the Cartwright Hall.

It was inside Cartwright Hall (now Bradford's civic art gallery) in Lister Park, Keighley Road a couple of miles northwest of the city centre, that the dance scene was filmed.

Room At The Top location: Ramada Bradford/Leeds Hotel, Bradford Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire
Room At The Top location: the Browns’ posh mansion: Ramada Bradford/Leeds Hotel, Bradford Road, Bingley, West Yorkshire

The posh home of Lampton’s boss, Mr Brown (Donald Wolfit) and daughter Susan (Heather Sears), to which Lampton aspires, has been extended to become the elegantly-named Mercure Bradford / Bankfield Hotel, Bradford Road, Bingley, northwest of Bradford city centre.

Coincidentally, the fruity old actor in 1983’s The Dresser – which was filmed at Bradford’s Alhambra Theatre – was based on Donald Wolfit.

Room At The Top location: the Boy and Barrel, Westgate, Bradford, West Yorkshire
Room At The Top location: Joe drinks with Alice Aisgill: the Boy and Barrel, Westgate, Bradford, West Yorkshire

And you can still sink a pint in the pub where Lampton and the improbably French Alice Aisgill (Oscar winning Simone Signoret) meet up: the Boy and Barrel, 60 Westgate at James Gate.