Whistle Down The Wind | 1961
The film was shot on location in the village of Downham, off the A59, in the Ribble Valley, about ten miles northwest of Burnley, Lancashire. It’s pretty much unchanged since filming in the Sixties.
The original story, of a holed-up escapee being mistaken for Christ, was written by star Hayley Mills’ mother, Mary Hayley Bell, and set in the pony-and-jodhpurs Home Counties of southeast England.
Very much in tune with the times, screenwriters Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall shifted the location to the grittier north.
In the village, you can still find the carpark, where the Salvation Army band played (“Do you want a kitten? It’s not dead.”).
‘Bostock’s farm’ itself is nearby on Pendle Hill. In reality, it’s Worsaw End Farm, and instantly recognisable, both the farmhouse (the kitchen interiors were the only studio shots in the film) and the barn – though a shelter has since been added to the door. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that this is private property, and please don’t trespass.
The farm’s current owner, a child at the time of filming, was denied the opportunity of appearing as one of the ‘disciples’ by a sudden bout of appendicitis.
Even the trees silhouetted on Pendle Hill (as the children sing “We three kings…”) are still recognisable.
If you visit the area, you might be surprised to come across plenty of references to witchcraft. The Pendle Witches were12 local people who in 1612 were accused of murdering ten people by supernatural means. Of the 12, one died in prison and one was found not guilty, but the other ten were hanged, and legend – as well as a tourism theme – was born.
Now, I could tell you that the black-and-white photographs are a tribute to the sparkling monochrome photography of Arthur Ibbetson, but you’d know I was lying. The excellent photos were taken some time ago for the book, The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations.