The glamorous face of Catherine Zeta Jones may be splashed all over billboards to promote the new Dad’s Army feature film, but another star has stolen the show after the nostalgic TV adaptation hit the big screen.
A small fishing town in East Riding, Yorkshire, famous for its tasty fish and chips, is set to become a staycation hotspot this summer. Much of the filming for Dad’s Army was done in Bridlington, a popular resort for 19th century leisure seekers, which is preparing for a return to glory.
Ahead of the crowds, I visit for a weekend break.
Some of the scenes from Dad’s Army, including shots of the bank, tea room, police station, Hodges greengrocers, Jones’ butchers and the military parade, were filmed in Bridlington’s Old Town.
With some buildings dating from the 17th Century, the Old Town stands about a mile northwest from the harbour, originally known as Burlington Quay.
It was built close to the beautiful Priory, founded in 1113 and once the biggest and wealthiest church in Yorkshire.
With its High Street, Market Place, Corn Exchange House and (in 1710) 25 pubs, the Old Town was a major trading place for surrounding villages. Just seven pubs survive today.
When the Dad’s Army film crew descended in November 2014, they transported many of the shops and buildings back to the 1940s. Much of that decoration remains, allowing visitors to step into a film set: the Black Lion still appears as Walmington-on-Sea’s Royal Oak Inn while various shops feature 1940s fashions and a variety of air raid warden posters.
Posters also tell of wartime austerity: horsemeat being fit for human consumption, general food shortages and rationing.
There are no such worries of hardship at Field House Farm Holiday Cottages, our “billet” for two nights, and where some of the film’s scenes were also shot.
Situated a mile up the coast in the tiny, old village of Sewerby, this cluster of six luxurious cottages makes a perfect base for anyone exploring the Bridlington and Flamborough Head area.
Field House Farm is owned by John and Angela Foster and their grown up children James and Lucy. It has been in the Foster family for generations, and was originally part of the nearby Sewerby Hall’s estate.
Until August 2003, the farm was home to a herd of some 130 Friesian/Holstein dairy cattle, but the slump in milk prices forced their sale. Only a few ‘decorative’ cows are kept on the land these days.
It’s still a working farm, but the focus has switched to growing wheat, barley, oil-seed rape, field beans and alternative crops. Tourism and wildlife conservation are also new areas of business.
The cottages offer a range of accommodation for two to six people and are all converted farm buildings with evocative names like The Byre, The Old Dairy and The Turnip House.
They are perfect for all-year visits. When we drive there in mid-January, it’s bitterly cold. We come across plenty of snow on the local hills and our car is covered in ice for much of our second day.
Our cottage, The Roost proves to be a beautifully warm and comfortable retreat, however, with all the cottages having oil-fired central heating and log-burning stoves.
In warmer months, a large play area, just off the farm’s main courtyard will prove very popular with children. Angela has written a handy and interesting history of the property and has included a number of walks around and from the farm, and plenty of facts and figures about the surrounding area.
The Roost, features attractive exposed brick and chalkstone walls. Its two large bedrooms are either side of a big, comfortable lounge and fully equipped kitchen. Both bedrooms have flat screen TVs and are dressed with comfortable and quality bedding, and each has a beautifully-fitted ensuite.
Free wi-fi is provided for anyone keen to keep in touch with the outside world.
Arriving at the cottage early on Friday evening, we walk the half-mile or so to the nearest pub, The Martonian Inn, and enjoy a ‘cheap and cheerful’ fish and chips supper – £12 for two, including two free drinks.
The Martonian does a roaring trade during the summer, catering for the hundreds of visitors who descend on the area for caravan holidays.
After a day exploring Bridlington and Flamborough, Sunday morning sees us walking into Sewerby, past the recently restored 17th Century Grade I-listed Sewerby Hall and Gardens – home to a museum, small zoo and aviary, past the old Ship Inn – and on to the high chalk clifftop.
Heading north towards Flamborough Head, we pass a cricket field and golf course, while watching colourful paragliders soaring and swooping high in the deep blue sky above us.
About a mile from Sewerby, we reach Danes Dyke, a 2.5mile long prehistoric defensive ditch and earthwork that protected five square miles of Flamborough headland from invaders.
The natural woodland reserve, a Scheduled Ancient Monument of national importance, is home to a diverse range of wildlife.
Its car park sits on the former site of a grand house built in 1873 for the lady of the Manor of Flamborough. It was demolished in 1953.
Nearby Flamborough, with its two lighthouses, has a number of pubs, including the Rose & Crown and the curiously named Royal Dog & Duck in Dog and Duck Square.
Midway between Flamborough and Bridlington is The Ship Inn in Sewerby. It’s packed when we visit for a lunchtime drink - a christening party and a crowd of hungry customers fill almost every seat, many of them taking advantage of the bargain carvery lunch (two for £12).
Nearly 500 local people from the area starred as extras in Dad’s Army, so I carefully watch to see if I can pick out any budding stars.
Bridlington’s town crier David Hinde, who holds the world record for the loudest town cry, is undoubtedly the most recognisable.
Cast aside though, it’s the scenery that will attract most people to this pretty corner of England.
Just as Poldark gave tourism a boost in Cornwall and Downton Abbey put Highclere Casle on the map, big screen exposure is likely to send visitors marching to Yorkshire in the following months.
Steve White from the Press Association was a guest of Premier Cottages (www.premiercottages.co.uk) who offer a week’s stay at The Roost, Field House Farm Cottages (sleeps four) from £500; three-night stay from £300.
Premier Cottages’ collection features almost 1,000 four and five-star self-catering cottages across the UK. Properties range from small, romantic boltholes to large family-friendly country estates. The collection includes pet-friendly accommodation.