My Brief Encounter with Carnforth Station

Carnforth Station, looking towards the iconic clock, and the ramp. Both feature in the film, 'Brief Encounter'.

So much has changed, and yet so little, since parts of ‘Brief Encounter’ were filmed here in 1945. The southbound expresses still speed through, but in this photo the charging steam loco is replaced by a Class 185 DMU.

My Brief Encounter with Carnforth Station

This is my account of Carnforth Station in the 2020’s, and its relationship with railway history, and with the romantic  film Brief Encounter. The station buildings were nearly lost 30 years ago, but survive as a Heritage Centre, thanks to the hard work of volunteers, and I think also the accidents of its history.


I made several visits over several months, including on one glorious Saturday, when three steam-hauled trains were passing through.


When I recorded this podcast, in early 2021, the refreshment room was looking for new owners, and it looked unlikely we would see any steam-hauled trains for a good while. I’m happy to say a new Bistro is now (Nov 2021) in business, and steam has had a good summer.


Also, in case anyone wonders, the Rachmaninov excerpts are not from the film sound track, but are from a copyright free recording. And finally, the famous clock has been away for repair for a while now, and still was when I last passed through in August 2021.

LMS  8F 48151 prepares to leave Carnforth in December 2017, to head towards Hellifield with a Christmas special. The original 1882 signal box is visible beyond the engine, and West Coast Railways headquarters are adjacent, housed in the 1944 former LMS motive power depot.

The modern world retreats a little at the north end of Carnforth station. The 1882 signal box, and its 1903 replacement stand over Furness and Midland Junction, the latter named after railway companies which disappeared in 1923.