On Yorkshire Day (August 1) we’re celebrating the top 10 locations that have inspired film makers time and again. These are our region’s blockbusters – and they’re popular for good reason. Come and see for yourself.
Keighley & Worth Valley Railway
Yorkshire is home to two of the UK’s greatest heritage rail experiences, both local icons. If a film director has a period train scene to shoot, they come to Yorkshire. West Yorkshire’s Keighley & Worth Valley Railway is popular for period platform scenes. Joyful arrivals and love-torn goodbyes have all been shot on the platforms of Keighley and Oakworth stations along this line. The line is most famous for its central role in the original 1970s Railway Children, and it was used again in the 2021 filming of The Railway Children Returns.
One of West Yorkshire’s prettiest high streets is in this village in Bradford’s suburbs. Most of the stone houses of Saltaire were built in the 1850s by philanthropic industrialist Sir Titan Salt to house textile workers for his giant Salts Mill, now a handsome riverside gallery and shopping complex. The broad cobbled streets work well for film makers and Saltaire has hosted productions including Gentleman Jack, The English Game and most recently The Railway Children Return, which is due for release in 2022.
A hiking hub in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, you don’t have to stray far from Grassington’s high street to find more sheep and meadows than people. This year the town has once again been painstakingly transformed into Darrowby, James Herriot’s fictional home, for the second series of Channel 5’s All Creatures Great & Small. Not that much of a makeover is required to help Grassington slip seamlessly into the role of a 1930s version of itself; the town is beautifully preserved, with old wooden store fronts and country inns.
It’s no understatement to call Castle Howard one of the grandest estates in England. With its part-Palladian, part-Baroque domed mansion, rose gardens, giant fountains and whimsical follies, it’s the perfect backdrop for film and TV shows about life in England’s upper classes. It’s the home of Brideshead Revisited and more recently it was used as the Duke of Hastings estate in Bridgerton.
Bradford has a long association with the film industry and the neoclassical quarter of Little Germany in central Bradford is today one of the city’s most popular filming locations for period dramas. Its distinctive character is born from the fact that it’s where German merchants built their townhouses in the 19th century with the riches they reaped from West Yorkshire’s booming textile industry. It’s a regular on the Yorkshire filming circuit; you might recognise it from Gentleman Jack, Peaky Blinders or Downton Abbey.
Beloved by Leeds residents, who come for mini-festivals, themed children’s trails, period exhibitions and summer outdoor cinema, Harewood House was one of the main filming locations for the Downton Abbey feature film. Film fans will recognise several of the sumptuous 18th-century rooms on a tour of the house. It was also used to film ITV’s Victoria and parts of the 2021 Channel 5 Anne Boleyn drama.
Although less well known than Yorkshire estates like Castle Howard and Harewood House, 16th-century Broughton Hall has made several appearances in British period dramas. Most recently it played Mrs Pumphrey’s home in the new adaptation of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great & Small, but it was also a filming location for Gentleman Jack, The English Game and Last Tango in Halifax, among others. Unlike many other country estates used in filming across Yorkshire, Broughton Hall is one you can stay at, either in the house hotel, on a retreat or in off-grid holiday homes scattered around the vast estate grounds.
Hull Old Town
Tourists may not have discovered Hull Old Town yet, but location scouts certainly have. Its production credits include Victoria and the Dev Patel feature film The Personal History of David Copperfield, and there are a number of others lined up to film here in the next year. It’s popular as a convincing double for Victorian London, with a cluster of red-brick townhouses and cobbled streets built on the wealth of Hull’s whaling industry, which peaked in the early 1800s. You can learn more about this past in the city’s excellent maritime museums and monuments.
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
The cat is out of the bag with this one – this perennial film-maker favourite saw both Tom Cruise and Harrison Ford in 2021 for the filming of Mission Impossible 7 and then Indiana Jones 5. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway journey runs from Whitby to Pickering and crowds of spectators usually gather at either end in a jubilant fashion to watch the trains pull in amid clouds of steam. The railway’s most famous appearance was its starring role in Harry Potter – Goathland’s village station in the middle of the North York Moors National Park played Hogsmeade Station in the first three films.
This South Yorkshire heritage estate is a dark horse. It’s been used countless times for TV and film but you wouldn’t always know it. Some of the rooms at Wentworth Woodhouse were stripped during the 20th century when the estate was donated to the council and used as a school, which makes it a valuable blank canvas for location scouts. But it’s got good 17th-century bones. Inside, the highlight is the colonnaded Marble Saloon. The estate was used in the Downton Abbey and Darkest Hour feature films, as well as Gentleman Jack, The Irregulars, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, and more.