A Christmas Carol: My hometown ties to a Christmas favourite.

It has been described as one of the most fondly remembered and revered on screen adaptations of the Charles Dickens classic, the 1984 American funded and British shot TV movie of A Christmas Carol starring George C Scott holds a very special place in my heart as it was filmed in my hometown of Shrewsbury and I was there when it was filmed.

Conceived as a holiday special for American TV network CBS, A Christmas Carol was selected to be filmed in the U.K, namely in the town of Shrewsbury in the winter of 1983. Bringing in a cast featuring such luminaries as George C Scott, David Warner, Edward Woodwood & Albert Finney, the talent on display was intimidating to say the least. Filmed in and around the medieval town of Shrewsbury which didn’t take much in the way of set-dressing to transform into Dickensian London, A Christmas Carol utilised it’s setting and its residents admirably with some 400 local residents acting as extras for the production.

Ask any Shrewsbury resident of an age about the filming of A Christmas Carol and they’ll point you toward… 

The Parade shopping arcade doubling as The Corn Exchange. Here’s how it looks today.

Heart & Arrow Tattoos which doubled for Scrooge & Marley’s counting house. Here is a more recent picture.

The Bear Steps was the location of the Cratchits home, notice the carefully placed facade that hides St Julians church? St Paul’s Catherdral was added in post production. Here it is today.

And perhaps the most famous and lasting testament to Shrewsbury’s involvement in the film, Scrooges gravestone, still visible to this day, ensconced in St Chads church yard, weathered but still legible.

I may have only been a little older than 2 years old when A Christmas Carol was filmed but I still have a vivid memory of observing filming, God knows how I remember this as I have a memory like a sieve and I was only a toddler at the time but I have corroborated the memory with my father and it did happen. It was outside of what is now Heart & Arrow Tattoos, a scene was being filmed featuring George C Scott unlocking the door and entering. Fake snow was dressing the ground from there up to The Parade shopping arcade which was also being used for filming. I was with my father and they were filming a take, George C Scott walks up the bank leading to the building, unlocks the door and as he enters, unceremoniously knocks his top hat off on the low beamed door. It’s a little thing, maybe dull to some but it’s also a lasting memory of something that is close to my heart, my first lasting memory of movies, actually witnessing one being filmed. 

The 1984 version of A Christmas Carol remains an annual viewing tradition to this day, it is my favourite adaptation of the story, not just for the personal connection to where I live but also because it is one of the most faithful and strongest adaptations of the book that has ever been committed to celluloid.

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