Carnforth Station Heritage Centre and the Brief Encounter Refreshment Room opened on 17 October 2003 following 3 years work to renovate the derelict buildings of Carnforth Station. We celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2013 and would like to thank the organisations listed for their generous support.
We welcome visitors from all over the world, who come to enjoy the nostalgia of the station, which has been restored to it’s 1940s glory when the Refreshment Room was used as the setting for David Lean’s film “Brief Encounter”.
Carnforth Railway Station was opened in 1846 by the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway Company and was originally just a single platform. In 1856, a small station was built following the connection of the Furness and Midland Railway lines. A year later a new station and small engine shed were constructed. On 1st August, 1880, the station was rebuilt at a cost of £40,000.
The station was completely rebuilt in 1937 by the London Midland and Scottish Railway Company, financed by over £53,000 of government-funded money. A 890 ft long platform was added for the Furness trains, and the longest unsupported single piece concrete roof in Britain was erected. Carnforth developed into a bustling junction linking stations across the North West from Cumberland through to Leeds.
During the two World Wars thousands of servicemen passed through Carnforth Station en route to duty overseas. In 1945 David Lean filmed his romantic classic “Brief Encounter” starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard. Carnforth was chosen by the Ministry of War Transport as it was remote and safe from attack. Filming had to take place at night between 10pm and 6am so as not to interfere with daytime train operations.
The demise of steam and radical reorganisation of the railways by Dr Beeching in the 1960's led to a gradual rundown of the station. The mainline platforms were closed down and physically removed in 1970 prior to electrification of the West Coast Main Line. Carnforth was then reduced to a branch station and the buildings gradually fell into disrepair.
The Carnforth Station and Railway Trust Co Ltd was formed In November 1996 to restore the derelict buildings and a £1.5 million project was commenced in late 2000 in cooperation with Railtrack.
The Refreshment Room has been restored to its 1940s splendour and is a run as a separate franchise by Andrew and Helen Coates.