Town is taken back in time 200 years for Jamaica Inn TV series

Kirkby Lonsdale residents could have been forgiven for thinking they had been mysteriously sent nearly 200 years back in time this week.

In fact, a BBC film crew had transformed the town’s Market Square into a bustling 1820s community to shoot a television adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s gothic novel Jamaica Inn.

Twenty-first century stallholders have been replaced by horse-drawn carriages, period dress, fake shopfronts and lots and lots of soil for scenes to be recorded from Monday up until today, Thursday.

The original story was set partly in Launceton, Cornwall, but it was decided the present-day town looked too modern to be used, so it was ditched in favour of Kirkby Lonsdale.

And the Lunesdale town has been a hive of activity all week, with schoolchildren, locals and visitors gathering to watch as the cameras rolled.

The cast includes Downtown Abbey star Jessica Brown-Findlay who plays Mary, a feisty young woman who arrives at the isolated Jamaica Inn to live with her aunt after her mother dies, from where she learns her aunt’s husband runs a smuggling ring.

She finds herself dragged into his dangerous world and her life in danger.

Shouts of “Action!” and “Cut!” could be heard around the square, while other locations included Devil’s Bridge on Wednesday and an area around St Mary’s Church was due to feature.

The three-part drama is being produced by Origin Pictures and overseen by BAFTA-winning director Philippa Lowthorpe, who described the tale as an ‘exhilarating adventure story set in a wild landscape with brilliant characters’.

Market Square and part of Main Street have been closed to the public throughout the busy schedule but Kirkby Lonsdale Town Council chairman Allan Muirhead said 99 per cent of residents and businesspeople were positive about the film being shot.

He told the Guardian: “It’s put Kirkby Lonsdale on the map. There has been tremendous interest and a lot of visitors in the past week to see the set being prepared and the transformation of the town square. It’s been quite amazing. Accommodation and food and drink businesses have all reported an increase in trade.”

Jamaica Inn will be shown in three one-hour episodes on BBC1 at a date to be confirmed in 2014.