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DEDICATED SURVIVORS' LOCATION hunter Steve Clutterbuck has confirmed the whereabouts of several previously untraced filming locations from first series episode Gone Away.
"I took as many screengrabs as I could, and tried to match them up with areas of Hereford where we already know that Survivors filming took place", explains Steve. "In addition, I posted screengrabs on as many relevant online forums as I could think of, along with an appeal for any information, in the hope that some would remember the filming or recognise the surrounding landscape."
The results were disappointing. "With no credible new leads, I decided to take another trip out and tried once again to match the general background to some of the missing location shots. On my travels I stopped at a lot of farms and gave them copies of the episode, along with my email and mobile details. I've not heard anything back from any of them - but I hope they enjoyed the episode in any event!"
The view of the farm from the field above in first series Survivors' episode Gone Away
Steve concluded there was no choice but to revert to the hard graft of checking out possible sites in person. "Driving along one particular lane, a spotted a young guy on a tractor in his farmyard", Steve recalls. "I stopped my car to ask him if he recognised anything from the photo of the Gone Away farm. He said he didn't, and I was about to walk off, when he suggested that I should check with his Dad, who would have been living and working on the farm in 1975. We interrupted his father, who was enjoying a football match on TV, and he recognised the setting right away from the screengrab. He pointed me to a location about half-a-mile down the road, which he remembered was exactly the spot."
"He also recalled that, back in January 1975, the BBC location crew went round asking local farmers to let them have some dead sheep. It didn't occur to me until I had driven off that this would have been the carcass that Tom finds as he arrives at the farm."
The farmyard that Tom explores in the first series Survivors' episode Gone Away
"Even with directions, the entrance to the farm was hard to find. It is so remote and hidden, that I drove straight past it - twice. But I got there in the end, and received a very nice welcome from the gentlemen who lives at the farm. After explaining the location's Survivors' connections, he showed me the side gate that Tom runs through in pursuit of the young boy who he finds staring at him through the window."
"The farmyard itself hasn't changed much at all", Steve says. "The brick animal pens have crumbled away, but you can still see where they stood. Many of the outbuildings are as they were in 1975, and some now have listed building status. The only addition to the yard is a brand new henhouse."
The rear of the farmhouse from which Tom emerges in the first series Survivors' episode Gone Away
The owners gave Steve permission to take photos, but they did ask that their precise location not be publicised, in case the details encouraged an unwanted number of visitors. "I then showed the owner some screen shots of Phillipson's shelter next to a stream. He confirmed that it was less than a third-of-a-mile away. With his agreement, I made my way down to take a look."
"He did warn me that it would be muddy, but I didn't think it would be too bad, until I was ankle-deep in the stuff in my white trainers: the whole area around the building is waterlogged. It was a freezing cold day, and it was definitely the right call to return on another occasion, better dressed for the conditions."
The building in which Phillipson and his young companion are sheltering in the first series Survivors' episode Gone Away
A few weeks later, Steve returned. "This time I was equipped with wellies, and made my way down the hill towards the pump house. The building has suffered a lot during in the intervening years. The roof has collapsed and two of the walls have caved in. Luckily these are not the walls seen in the episode. At times my wellies were up to six inches deep in the sucking mud in just the position where Tom argues with Phillipson and the young boy by the fireside. This made for an interesting adventure! The landscape near to the house has changed little and it is still possible to see the distinctive ridges in the ground of the hill that Tom runs down chasing after the boy."
There were still more filming location to confirm, but conditions in mid-February were not ideal. "The harsh winter weather and the fading light meant I would still need to make further return trips to hunt for the few still-missing locations from Gone Away's opening segment," Steve says.
A few weeks earlier, Steve successfully confirmed another long sought-after location: the garage from Gone Away at which Abby, Jenny and Greg find petrol to refuel their Volvo. This location was discovered as the result of extensive online research, which systematically ruled out possible alternative sites in the area, until the field was narrowed sufficiently to confirm by visit.
The Fina petrol pumps are no longer in place at The Bird Garage, Tillington, near Hereford, but until only a few months ago they were stored at the garage (see the inset photo, courtesy of garage mechanic Geoff) before being sold at the end of 2012. Despite the extensions added to the main structure, the brick buildings at the rear of the main forecourt are a perfect match for those glimpsed on screen, as Greg laboriously pumps fuel by hand.
The garage from first series Survivors' episode Gone Away where Greg refuels Abby's Volvo by handcranking the Fina petrol pump
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