In Corsham

Captain Poldark

A guest blog written by Sharon Thomas

How one of Wiltshire’s hidden secrets, the market town of Corsham, was thrust into the spotlight.

Picture it… Rugged Captain Ross Poldark, sat astride his horse, galloping across the cliffs and guiding his trusty steed towards the busy port of Truro. With its tall ships, the wheelwrights, rope store, saddlery and bustling market, it’s everything you – and he – would expect from a rustic 18th-century Cornish town. Except it isn’t. It’s Corsham in Wiltshire, about 150 miles away from the place it’s depicting, and very definitely inland.

Corsham

In May 2014, over the course of a bank holiday weekend (following a number of visits by the design team), Mammoth Productions transformed the town to film scenes for the first series of its remake of the classic TV series Poldark. Nobody knew how successful it would turn out to be, and nobody knew how popular Aidan Turner and scything would become either!

While modern-day Corsham’s High Street retains its historic charm – the main reason why Mammoth chose it as a location – there was still much to be done over the weekend. Slowly, shops and businesses disappeared behind fake facades; the modern road surfacing vanished under dirt; geese and cows and horse-drawn carts took up residence, and the pub sign for the infamous Red Lion swung into view. The only thing they couldn’t recreate was those tall ships sailing majestically behind the Town Hall; they had to be computer-generated.

Actors and their Oxon

Corsham’s had its fair share of film and TV productions in the past: Merchant Ivory’s award-winning Remains of the Day and Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon were both filmed at Corsham Court, but Poldark was different – and very exciting. As news of the filming spread, the well-behaved crowds watching increased every day and good-naturedly accepted the disruption to their daily routine, even though the High Street was still open to pedestrians inbetween filming.  Whenever ‘Cut’ was called there’d be a sudden influx of locals travelling back through time on their way to the post office and the independent shops that line the road.

The leading actors were based in the Flemish Weaver pub, which closed for the week, while the army of extras took up residence next door in the large function room at the Town Hall and the Council Chamber became a prop store, with everything from cabbages for the market to bolts of material – Elizabeth and Ross met many times outside the newly created haberdashery store. (Corsham was also the place where Ross and Demelza first met each other, as the Captain rescued what he thought was a young boy from a beating outside the Red Lion.)

Actors

Even though the film crew has not had to return to the town since the first series, they shot so many scenes that Corsham has continued to feature on a regular basis in each series since. And while Ross/Aidan might not have come back, visitor numbers have increased as a result of Poldark’s popularity to discover Corsham for themselves, and walk in the Captain’s footsteps.

If you’d like to do the same, and find out more about all that Corsham has to offer, and that’s so much more than an ability to look like 18th-Century Truro, take a look at here

Corsham is approximately 20 minutes from Bath and 10 minutes from Chippenham, both of which can be reached by rail.

Photos

Credit: Mammoth Productions

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