Grange Hill Locations - Then And Now

 visitors since Feb 2006               updated May 2007: Series 13 page many new photos!

 

Introduction

Grange Hill was portrayed as a North London comprehensive, but its geographic location only loosely defined.  You might be forgiven for thinking it's in East London, perhaps near EastEnders's "Walford" judging by the amount of actors who migrated into that programme, and also by dialogue that talks of going "Up west".

For the first seven series a viewer is led to believe Grange Hill's location remains the same, then the old building is declared unfit, and the school's appearance changes.  However the reality is the location used for the school moved around London twice before it settled for a long time at Borehamwood.  After this, it stayed put for a long time and then departed to Merseyside where it continues to thrive.

For series one and two, Kingsbury, London NW9, was the main location for exterior shots in Grange Hill, with the odd excursion to other places, perhaps because they were last minute additions, and the crew chose places closer to the London film studios where the internal scene sets were constructed.  After this, Grange Hill was filmed at Willesden Green, around Doyle Gardens, for two further years.  The first two schools look remarkably similar, both with old-style architecture, domes and a large front porch.  Furthermore, the areas have similar types of housing nearby.

Then, for a further 4 series, we see Grange Hill at Hammersmith, and noticeably in a built-up part of London.  The sorts of houses in Hammersmith are multi-story - much fewer of the semi-detached houses we'd seen before.   During Series 9 we find Grange Hill in sunny Borehamwood in Hertfordshire, North-West of London.  Exterior shots no longer seem so constrained, and we once more see plenty of outdoor scenes of kids going to school, and mucking around outside shops.

These pages will document locations used in the various series, attempting to match up the shots - this is often impossible to do well, because they will have often been on a high crane, and I really can't go wandering around with a step-ladder!  Many places have changed significantly since they were first filmed, and at times it's difficult to line up a view. The background helps: trees are often intact, paths, walls and houses remain largely the same.

So back to series one - the first school was Kingsbury High, a very large comprehensive which has an upper and a lower school -  formerly the split was boys and girls - and both schools were used at different times during Grange Hill filming.  

Each series that has been covered can be chosen by clicking one of the links below. Please note that all material should be considered "Under Construction" - these web pages are by no means complete!

Ser 1    Ser 2    Ser 3     Ser 4     Ser 5     Ser 6     Ser 7     Ser 8     Ser 9     Ser 10     Ser 11     Ser 12    Ser 13     Ser 14     Ser 15    Ser 21-25

 Chez Tucker  School Run  Bullying  Stairs  Ann Wilson  School  Hamster   Links

Series One

Want to see the locations first hand?  Here's a walk you can do for series one and two. Click here.

Tucker's Flat

First sight of Tucker's friends..yes there are STILL flowers here 28 years later!

Left: Tucker sets off for Grange Hill. Right: 2005 view of Linford Court, NW9

Below, Tucker's flat is the third one along from the left when you climb the stairs. Below right, all the flats.

School Run

(corrected) Tucker, and mates make a run for the bus, cross Elmwood Crescent (Where the flats are, as above) and head down Hay Lane.

(corrected) Catching a bus that's gone astray - the 27 to Paddington makes an unofficial stop in Kingsbury, NW9.  The view ahead is a little different today, with some new flats up ahead, though you can match up the traffic island and the house on the distant left.  The bus that stops here is the 204 towards Edgware, so is going the wrong way for Tucker, since Kingsbury School is ahead. There are some shops to the right - it's possible these were used at some point during series two - can't quite confirm this, because of lack of detail.

Judy at the Crossing

Nervous on the first day, Judy Preston crosses with her mother....

In 2005 - The zebra crossing at Stag Lane, Burnt Oak.  The Belisha Beacon seems to have grown!  Gardens give way to plain concrete.  Distinctive motif in middle of the house.  This is a fair old way from Kingsbury School. This is one of the few surviving zebra crossings in this area, with others becoming pelican crossings.

 

Trisha's Journey

Carol zooms off without waiting for Trisha...

A view of these houses in 2005. The tree has survived.

Trisha drags her feet...

This is very near Judy's crossing above, along Stag Lane at Burnt Oak - I wonder if she noticed her classmate? The style of architecture is common to just this row of houses within Stag Lane. Metal barrier has been upgraded to a longer, more severe version.

 

Right: If we swing round the camera from where we encounter Trisha, we see the Zebra Crossing just over the road (look for the faint dotted line)

 

Note that Trish's apparent home location moves in series two to somewhere nearer the school, around Roe End, by the implication she lives near Simon Shaw (see series two pictures).  

Bullying

Judy Preston heads to the sweet shop for an appointment with a bully...

The hedge has overgrown quite a lot - I wonder if there's a cute white picket fence underneath? In fact, we are now at Ealing Common, quite a few miles away from Kingsbury - the wonder of television....

Trish and her sister watch Judy, and wonder at her poor choice of company...  Ealing Common, roughly the same view, 1978 and 2005.  Shooting must have taken place in autumn, my photo taken in Winter.

Judy's special pen gets threatened....  Hello, this looks rather different in 2005. Although we can't see it because it is behind that ugly partition, the only thing left is part of the brick wall you can see to the left.  For the record, the shops were M.D.G Coltman newsagents, and Grange Stores (the nearby pub is also called the Grange). This sweet shop is used again in series Four.

By 2005, the shops have been replaced by flats.  The white house, which can be barely glimpsed in the scene, looks renovated, and expanded. I am not sure quite why Ealing Common was used for the location choice, but in its favour, it's easy even today, to park nearby, and it is relatively uncrowded.  I also seem to recall Michael Sheard saying in his autobiography that they used rehearsal rooms in Acton, which is very near to Ealing.

After this scene, Judy runs in what would be the wrong direction for Kingsbury, at least if she were catching an 83 bus (which goes from Ealing to Kingsbury).

Stairs

Back to Kingsbury High School.  Stairs 1978 and 2005 (from the reverse side)

Ann's Journey

In 1978 there were more trees in Fairfields Crescent.

Ann's home is the one to the left of the fancy porch - note the neighbour's stone pillars have been painted red. Make sure your handbrakes work if you park here!

Above, another view down the hill.

Below, that hill from the bottom! Ann must be fit to climb up here every day - no buses go up here, you'd need a cable car.

Above, from here, you can see Kingsbury High, the lower school first (new building) and the familiar "Grange Hill" upper school behind. Close-up below. Note green tower, and blue door at rear.

Ann Wilson's first day at school... if she can arrive safely.  She heads off down steep Fairfields Crescent, Kingsbury, but somehow then appears running the opposite direction, uphill, and is now going the wrong way for school, up Highfield Avenue. Stop Ann, Stop!

This is the same place in 2005.  The trees are missing, but it all looks much the same. Heading this way, you would end up in Colindale after descending steep Wakemans Hill.

The first school .. Kingsbury High from the front

Kingsbury High School was used for the first two series, but the crew also went to Ealing for a few occasion, and returned there in later series (see series three, for instance).    

Kingsbury High has a long history.  It sits on two sites, some distance apart, currently divided into lower and upper schools.  The upper school is shown in the pictures immediately below and was used for the majority of filming - this is in Princes Avenue.  It was built in 1929 by John Laing.  The lower school, pictures to follow, is back towards Roe Green, at the convergence of  Bacon Lane and Goldsmith Lane.  This area has changed since 1978 - Bacon Lane was once a normal road that continued up to Roe Green, according to the A-Z in 1975, but now is just a footpath.  Previously, the schools were split into girls and boys - the boys taking the impressive building below, and the girls taking the newer building. The current lower school building can be glimpsed a few times in the series.

Above- views of the first Grange Hill School on the left, with a look at the location in February 2005 on the right. The addition of the flagpole, and the odd new tree, but not too many changes in 27 years.

Above - Grange Hill is opened up for business. Below - Grange Hill's exterior clock, and shown in close-up at Kingsbury High.

Above - Kingsbury High, left side. Not quite the same view,  but I'd need to be 25 feet tall to get that angle! 

Below - distinctive green dome which Tucker climbed into during series two.

Above: another view nicely framed by the tree.  Right: note the filled-in semi-circle window - it has a message on it with dates, something like 1919-1945 - some kind of memorial perhaps.

The road opposite Grange Hill's entrance.

The road opposite Kingsbury High. Hedge is neater, note the type of stone wall is the same, top of porch identical, but triangular roof feature painted to match neighbour and other changes to windows and right- hand door. Left door looks identical after 27 years.

Above: the rear view of Kingsbury High looks curiously at odds with the view seen from various episodes. This is because this isn't merely the back of what you see at the front, it's a whole other block, with a courtyard inside. Out the back is grass, with a thin path close to the school building.  This was a long distant shot from wasteland at the rear.  You will see the modern block on the left did exist in 1978, with different colours - the bare brick between the two buildings has been painted a bold white.  The windows also look different.

Below: a scene from series one.  Benny has found an unorthodox solution to his no-football-shoes dilemma.

 

The Return of the Hamster

Hamster required... 

17 Leeland Road, West Ealing. Still a pet shop in 2005!

I need a hamster, quickly! I've just ran five miles from Kingsbury!

Above: inside "Fins, Feather, n' Fur".

Below: clearer shop view. A small market in this road on Saturday.

Aquapets has changed hands, and changed names since 1978.

The proprietors of Fins, Feather n' Fur, kindly agreed to the photo above right.

Below: a comparable view shows what I thought was a multi-story car park in the distance to be merely some fancy masonry on the Salvation Army Hall!

Judy seems to be running the wrong way: the main road would be behind us, and you'd really need an 83 bus.

 

 

Below, Judy arrives near a "Lollipop Man" 

Below, Roe Green houses. I believe these are the same ones as they all have different designs painted above the windows, also we glimpse how far the camera is from Kingsbury Road to the right. The hedge remains, but  the wall has gone.

Judy comes back to school with hamster in tow. This is Kingsbury High's lower school, to the right, which has been enlarged and encased in a severe metal fence since 1978. Saplings have become trees.  Walking down the path, and then taking another photo, we can glimpse the edge of the main Kingsbury High building.

 
Location Links:  

Elstree Calling. Elstree Film & Television Studios - Past, Present & Future

A fascinating look at the locations around Borehamwood and Elstree used for Television and Film production.

 

Forward to Series 2

 

Grange Hill pictures (c) 1978 British Broadcasting Corporation
Contemporary pictures (c) 2005 Geoff Phillips, all rights reserved. Please ask permission before copying.

Page maintained by Geoff Phillips - (remove SPAM from email address)

Information on locations welcome!

[Geffers' Main page is at http://home.btconnect.com/geffers/]