So there we were, quietly watching The Sense Of An Ending, which has just been released on download this week, and stars big names like Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling and Michelle Dockery.
A few minutes in and – gawping at the evidently lovely north London Victorian terraces – we sat bolt upright when Jim Broadbent, who plays the protagonist, camera shop owner Tony Webster, wandered into his place of work.
We quickly realised – despite an interesting camera angle – that it’s none other than a slightly disguised Harrington & Squires, the diminutive printers perched between Kentish Town and Tufnell Park on Fortess Road (and responsible for one of our most popular ever covers, 37 Things You Never Knew About Tufnell Park).Chrissie Charlton and Vicky Fullick moved into what they call The Corridor building back in 2005. “It’s an unusual space to run a print workshop from,” says Vicky, “and at a tiny 1.2 metres wide we have just enough space.”
The name was inspired by Bob Harrington and Horace Squires, compositors and letterpress tutors at Hornsey College of Art in the late 1960s. And as well as taking commissions for bespoke stationery, invitations and cards they also run weekly workshops for those who are interested in learning to hand-set metal type and letterpress print.
So how did it become immortalised on film? “Out of the blue, the location manager for BBC Films rang our doorbell in July 2015 saying they loved the shop and wondered if they could use it,” Vicky says. “There was much measuring and discussion, as they had to move our large printing press out of the front vestibule, but a month later they had redone the front as the camera shop and revamped the ground floor inside so Jim Broadbent could be filmed mending Leicas. We had to move out for two days during filming – but the whole thing was done in a week.”And it’s not the only north London location in the film. Key scenes towards the denouement take place near Highgate tube and in he nearby The Gatehouse pub, plus there’s also a slightly head-scratching moment when Broadbent’s character is seen breaking his working day with a packed lunch on, erm, Clapham Common. Not that convincing if he’s working in Tufnell Park, but then when did a minor detail like that ever get in the way of things in the movies?
Many readers will know it’s not the only hit production to be filmed in the area recently. The brilliant laugh-out-loud sitcom Fleabag was set in and around NW5, with scenes everywhere from York Rise in Dartmouth Park to Southampton Road in Gospel Oak. Check out our story here for more on that.
Oh, and before everyone starts to pipe up, Kentish Town, Tufnell Park and the wider area has been depicted on film more times than we can list here (try this feature for starters).
And as for the film itself? Well, beautifully shot and acted though it was, it didn’t quite wield the power of the original Julian Barnes novel. But still, it’s worth watching.
Did you glimpse Jim B fixing a Leica or two? Leave any anecdotes below.