Film news

Dressing up Bloomsbury for Mr Holmes

8th February 2015
Bedford Row 1 copy

Sir Ian McKellen plays Mr Holmes in the film of that name – its world premiere is today at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Adapted from the novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, Sherlock Holmes, now old and reflecting on his life, tries to crack an unsolved case. Here’s the trailer.

Dressing up London for the period – 1909 – really took some doing, particularly in Bloomsbury, in our client borough Camden, along with support for residents who were going to be affected. This photo by Jane Soans shows Bedford Row’s makeover.

Conway Hall on Red Lion Square was transformed into the Pavilion Cinema in Eastbourne. Tresham House on the square, a post-WWII building, had to be covered in period scaffolding to fit in with the look. It’s little wonder that authenticity was insisted upon: production designer Martin Childs won the Oscar for best Art Direction-Set Decoration with Shakespeare in Love.

Craig Bryson belongs to the Tenants and Residents Association of Red Lion Square, where filming in in the summer last year involved road closure and cranes, along with the scaffolding.

He says, “The most important thing was that we were contacted months ahead of the shoot. We were asked what we thought, we were given maps, the structure going up was explained to us – it was very professional.

“I had plenty of notice and could have chosen to go away that weekend. Actually, it was all so well organised that we weren’t interrupted at all as the scaffolding went up. It was only there for an afternoon. And I could look out my window and watch the actors performing.

“I even saw Ian McKellen being made up. It was quite exciting. We didn’t feel imposed on at all.”

The filmmakers made a donation to the Tenants and Residents Association, which will be spent on a summer party. “There are six buildings in the square,” Craig says. “And we don’t all know our neighbours. So a summer party for us all is great way to make sure everyone benefits from the donation.

“I would say to other Londoners, if you can join a residents association, get involved in the filming process, and make sure it works for you and your neighbours.”

Horses, carriages and vintage cars came in. Yellow lines on the road surfaces had to be concealed, turning back time for Bloomsbury, as it reverted to its early-1900s look.

Londoners will spot locations such as Barter Street, where Sherlock Holmes walks along and enters a bookshop.

From inside a house in Bedford Row, Sherlock Holmes looks down at a removal van parked outside.

On Carey Street, lots of small sequences were filmed of Holmes following a woman he’s investigating, in and out of shops and along alleyways.

There was also filming inside Islington’s Farmiloes Building, along with Camden’s Mary Ward House, Craxton Studios (with a donation was made to the local Red Frog residents association) and inside the Dr Williams’s Library on Gordon Square.

Residents and filmmakers, rubbing along to put stunning locations on the big screen? Well… it’s elementary.