Carnforth David Lean sculpture plan declined by family

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Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounterpage 3
Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter
page 3 Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter
Plans for a statue of a famous film director in Carnforth have been turned down by his family.

Campaigners have gone back to the drawing board after relatives of Sir David Lean said he wouldn’t have approved of a sculpture of himself.

The director of ‘Brief Encounter’ left instructions before he died in 1991 that no such statue should ever be produced, the mayor of Carnforth has told the Guardian.

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Carnforth Town Council approached the family for permission after months of talks over the idea to commemorate Lean’s link to the town with a permanent memorial.

Sir David Lean.Sir David Lean.
Sir David Lean.

They hoped it would increase tourism and boost Carnforth’s economy.

Brief Encounter, filmed at Carnforth railway station and released in 1945, is a black-and-white romantic film about strangers who meet in a railway station and fall in love, starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.

The Oscar-winning movie maker also directed other classics such as The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago.

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Sculptor Laura Lian visited Carnforth last month for talks on the project and had drawn a sketch of the proposed life-size bronze.

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter.Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter.
Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter.

Laura, who has a studio in Somerset, is also working on a sculpture of John Lennon for New York City.

She has also sculpted rock band U2 and jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, and her work is collected by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and music mogul Sharon Osbourne.

Malcolm Watkins, mayor of Carnforth, said the sculpture could have gone in front of Ash Trees doctor’s surgery on Market Street.

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He said a company in London, Square Rock, had also been seeking endorsement from other members of the film making community.

Initial estimates for the project were that it could have cost £95,000.

The town council will now look at different options.

An exhibition on Sir David Lean’s life is currently on show in Carnforth station and pulled 4,000 visitors during its opening month.