All aboard the Hogwarts Express

Suzi Clark of St Albans based Crohn’s and Colitis UK (NACC) visits the Harry Potter studios at Leavesden

I’ve just emerged from “The Making of Harry Potter” – the new Warner Brothers Studio tour, opening at the end of the month. As a guest of the Watford Chamber of Commerce, this was a rare treat - far more exciting than many a breakfast meeting, especially for me. I’d better come clean and admit that I’m an avid Harry Potter fan, since my youngest daughter introduced me to the books. I’ve gawped at King’s Cross, looking for Platform Nine and Three Quarters, I’ve hurtled across the Millennium Bridge so as not to get attacked by Dementors… but to walk through the Warner Bros movie screen into the Great Hall of Hogwarts is unforgettable.

Elbowing bewildered businessmen in suits out of the way, I posed in front of an enormous cauldron. The creativity of the team behind the making of these epic films is extraordinary and the level of detail was revealed when I took a photo of the fireplace in Dumbledore’s study and realised that the dimly lit backplate, revealed by the flash, is a replica of the one in my 400 year old cottage – General Fairfax riding up Watling Street in 1649. So St Albans is immortalised at Hogwarts!

The mechanics behind the special effects and make-up are well explained and displayed, even for non-Potter aficionados – and the chance to walk around the studios and explore in your own time is a bit like being in a museum, but with the haunting strains of the musical scores from the films sending a shiver down your spine.

My only concern is that people may take younger children who, in seeing how the magic is created, might not then have that same magical experience as the rest of us. Let them enjoy these wonderful films at face value and perhaps get them to see the Tour when they are older – it’s a fine way of inspiring them to join the ranks of British craftsmen and women whose work is on display.

Go and see for yourselves – Leavesden is on the Marauders’ Map forever!

Meanwhile, knowing J K Rowling’s charitable work, I’m hoping – as someone working for a St Albans-based charity - that some of the profits will be used to benefit our work with young people here in Hertfordshire, and beyond.