On May 19, 2015, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter unveils its Platform 9 ¾ expansion. This new section will include the actual steam train that was used as the Hogwarts Express in all eight Harry Potter films. Filming started and ended on this platform, from when main characters Harry, Ron, and Hermione meet for the first time, to when the Golden Trio waved off their own children at the end of the series.
Lucky us - we caught an exclusive first look at Platform 9 and 3/4, plus a chance to explore the Hogwarts Express. We also caught up with Oscar and BAFTA winner, Special Effects Supervisor for the Harry Potter films, John Richardson and Mr Weasley himself, actor Mark Williams.
Harry Potter's Special Effects Supervisor gives us the story behind the magic
Mr. Weasley tells us what it's like to be back at Platform 9 3/4
Did you know… The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is included in the top 50 books every child should read
Also featured on Platform 9 and 3/4 are interactive luggage trolleys that will disappear into the wall, the interior carriage set used during filming, a selection of prop luggage, and a train-themed gift shop. Harry Potter veterans, including Oscar and BAFTA winning Production Designer Stuart Craig, Construction Manager Paul Hayes, Set Decorator Rosie Goodwin, and Oscar and BAFTA winning Special Effects Supervisor John Richardson, have painstakingly recreated this 20,000 square-foot expansion.
Here are some fun facts and stats about the Hogwarts Express:
- The Hogwarts Express was portrayed by the Great Western Railway 4900 Class 5972 Olton Hall 4-6-0 locomotive and coal tender. The numbers “4-6-0” refer to the wheel configuration: four front wheels, six central, and in this case, no rear wheels.
- The working steam train was originally built in April 1937 at the Swindon railway works in Wiltshire, and remained in service until December 1963.
- The Olton Hall locomotive itself weighs 75 tonnes and the coal tender weighs 46.7 tonnes.
- The students heading to Hogwarts were going away for quite a while and required a great deal of luggage. The Set Decoration Department created luggage trolleys with personalised trunks for each of the main characters (embellished with their initials and the Hogwarts crest). The team also scoured pet shops for animal cages in different sizes – to carry owls, rats, cats and toads.
- The production team wanted to take advantage of the impressive architecture at King’s Cross so, as platforms 9 and 10 are not in the main building, they used platforms 3 and 4 for filming instead. Filming at King’s Cross took place on a Sunday because it was the least busy day at the terminal.
Junior loves Platform 9 ¾ and highly recommends it for a good dose of family fun. Even if you have visited the studio before, don't miss the opportunity to explore the Hogwarts Express, as ridden by all your favourite Harry Potter stars before you.
Click through the gallery above to check out the beautiful set and its fun interactive features