Saying ‘Baked Potato’ to an East End Institution

Family run business, Empress Coaches, has been in operation since 1923, ferrying various coach parties and schools all around London and indeed the country.

Who would have thought that this unsuspecting coach yard, situated on a tiny cobbled alleyway, in the heart of the East End would become a go to filming location.

Alas, all good things must come to an end and two schemes initiated by the Aitch Group have been given the go ahead to develop Empress Coach Yard and Corbridge Crescent into over 100 homes and 461sqm of community / commercial space.

Working in partnership with The Film Office on numerous occasions, this little filming oasis saw the likes of major productions Fast & Furious, Legend, Mordecai, Luther and Vanity Fair (to name but a few) use both Empress Coaches and surrounding streets.

We would like to say a fond farewell to everyone involved at Empress with owner Mark Stanton having this to say.

“Our first film “Gangster No 1” back in late 1998 started the ball rolling in film / TV work at The Empress site in Corbridge Crescent – Thus being the first production to come into the Empress office to enquire about the derelict house on the corner (Bohemian House) perfect for a nightclub burning scene in the movie.

Originally the site was purchased back in 1927 for the family bus business started by my Great Grandfather back in 1923 with “Pirate Buses”. Post WW1 where there was a shortage of any transport in London, and without any Government legislation these routes were then nationalised in 1933 and sold by Empress to form “London Transport”.

As the years rolled by Corbridge Crescent was solely used as an exit for HGV ‘s taking loads from the saw mills in The Oval, and of course the coaches from our depot. Then just before the end of 1999 the council shut Corbridge Crescent off at the exit onto Cambridge Heath making our site secure and now quiet for filming – stroke of luck!!

With TV productions coming and going which included “The Bill” “London’s Burning” Whitechapel” “ Top Boy” and many more, most definitely the highlight for myself and our cousin Georgette Turner who oversaw all productions for us was “The Fast & Furious 6” which firmly put us on the map for big productions – I remember the entourage being like a circus rolling into town with all the roads blocked off 360’ around the Empress. We relocated all the  coaches for 6 weeks off a site in Green Lanes, North London with the office running normally at Empress.

“Word of mouth” really is how we got the Location Managers into Empress. The site became iconic in the Film / TV Industry for East London, and for this reason the only agent we used was “The Film Office” with Ed, Dominic and Megan helping pass productions through the Empress over the years. Always very easy to deal with always offering advice when needed.

One of the main reasons the filming worked for us at Empress was most definitely the flexibility of the film crews working with us in all times where we we had to bring the coaches back to the yard. For example we would hold the coaches back in The Oval then once we got the go ahead the camera was not rolling, in and out rolled the coaches whether or not to fill up with diesel or just park up for the night”.

The Film Office caught up with Supervising Location Manager Georgette Turner who said “it’s terribly sad for us to see such an iconic period location lost for development. The site is one that all Location Managers know and love. A huge part of the success is the service we receive by Mark and Jason who are always willing to accommodate our every need. As this chapter closes another opens with Mark and Jason now moving into the location industry to join me on my next feature, hopefully to make many more wonderful productions”.
Empress Coaches, Film Location, Corbridge Cressent
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