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Friday April 12th 2024

The Blue Lamp | 1950

The Blue Lamp filming location: Harrow Road, London W9
The Blue Lamp location: site of the old Coliseum cinema, where PC Dixon was gunned down: Harrow Road, London W9

PC Andy Mitchell (Jimmy Hanley) is the idealistic young police officer, mentored by the older, wiser PC George Dixon (Jack Warner), until young hoodlum Tom Riley (Dirk Bogarde) guns the old chap down during a bungled robbery. Amazingly, PC Dixon rose from the dead to star in the long-running TV series Dixon Of Dock Green, which tottered on through the decades until 1976.

The Blue Lamp was one of the first British movies to move out onto the streets for much of its filming, around Ladbroke Grove, Paddington Green and Edgware Road in West London.

Many of the West London locations have long since disappeared, including the old Harrow Road Police Station out of which Dixon works, although the Blue Lamp of the title has been retained and you can see it still hanging outside the new station on Harrow Road, W9.

The Blue Lamp filming location: Westbourne Terrace Bridge, London W9
The Blue Lamp location: PC Dixon passes the time with a little improvised verse: Westbourne Terrace Bridge, London W9

The bridge, where PC Dixon passes the time with a little improvised verse (not something that happens a lot in modern cop movies), can still be seen in Little Venice. It’s Westbourne Terrace Road Bridge crossing the Grand Union Canal.

The Blue Lamp filming location: Lord Hills Road, London W9
The Blue Lamp location: site of Tom Riley’s hideout: Lord Hills Road, London W9

The hideout of tearaway Tom Riley has been demolished, but the site is still recognisable on Lord Hills Road by the Canal in W9. Just about the only still recognisable feature is the spire of St Mary Magdalene, Rowington Close, the church featured in Neil Jordan’s The End Of The Affair and used for the memorial service in Fernando Meirelles’ 2005 adaptation of John Le Carré’s The Constant Gardener. More surprisingly, its crypt (not open to the public) houses St Sepulchre’s Chapel, the blue-ceilinged Gothic chapel in which Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) resolves to turn his life around in Tom Hooper’s film of Les Misérables.

The Metropolitan Theatre, where Riley establishes his alibi by ostensibly watching the act of Tessie O’Shea (in those strangely innocent pre-rock’n’roll days), stood at 267 Edgware Road. It closed in 1962 and the whole area has been redeveloped beyond recognition.

The Blue Lamp location: Harrow Road, London W9
The Blue Lamp location: the robbery at the Coliseum cinema: Harrow Road, London W9

Also long-gone, sadly, is the old Coliseum Cinema outside which George Dixon is shockingly fired on by the panicked Riley. It used to stand alongside the Grand Union Canal at 324 Harrow Road, W9. Like many picture houses of the time, it finally closed down in 1956, and the site has been redeveloped as a block of flats and offices.

The climactic car chase, around the streets of Notting Hill and North Kensington, climaxes as Riley is cornered at another lost landmark, the White City dog stadium on White City Road, off Wood Lane, Shepherds Bush, W12. The stadium, originally built for the 1908 Olympic Games and the Anglo-French Exhibition, stood north of the old BBC Television Centre, and was replaced by new offices for the broadcasting corporation in the 1980s.