One Wish Too Many (Children’s Film Foundation)

Date: 1956
Director: John Durst
Production Company: Realist Films

Stars: Anthony Richmond, Rodalind Gourgey, John Pike, Terry Cooke, Arthur Howard, Sam Costa
Location(s): London

Region(s):

Storyline:

A young boy finds a magic marble that grants him any wish he wants. One day he wishes for a giant steam-roller, and it starts to trash London.

Additional Information:

Screen captures by Phil Wilkinson

Can you help:

If you have any information regarding this film, any of the stills, or even better, some NOW shots please contact us.


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"You'd probably think that nothing much out of the ordinary could happen here, in East London on a winter afternoon". Ray Glenister tells us that this is looking East to the Poplar Hospital chimney stack. (RL)

A south facing pan picks up views of Poplar in E14. Here, to the centre, stands All Saints' Church on Newby Place with Chrisp Street to the bottom right. The narration continues . . . .

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From street level. (PW)

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"You certainly wouldn't expect to see anything in the way of . . . magic". Ray identifies this as looking South-East to Brunswick Wharf Power Station by East India Docks. (RL)

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"It seemed like an ordinary afternoon but, well . . . see for yourself". And here says Ray, looking West down to the junction of Grundy and Lindale Streets. (RL)

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The children of the film's Lansbury Road School run from class as the day's lessons end. This is the Cardinal Griffin School seen from Upper North Street in E14 advises Greg.

The Lansbury Road School sign is fake says Greg, adding that this capture shows the dining room on the lower floor and what were classrooms and the teacher's common room above. Paul Singleton tells us that use of this entrance on Upper North Street was prohibited at times in the 1960s due to concerns over traffic on the road.

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Paul Singleton believes that the school partially demolished in the early 2000s with what remained being converted into flats. Image copyright Google Streetview.

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Following the pupils, the Headmaster (Arthur Howard) and Mr. Pomfrett (Sam Costa) make their way home. Paul Singleton advises that the school became known as the Blessed John Roache School before merging with St. Philip Howard School.

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Ian Wallace (John Pike) dusts down his school cap after being set upon by Bert (Terry Cooke) and the other school bullies. Outside Cardinal Griffin Primary School on Upper North Street. The school was renamed Blessed John Roche Catholic School in 1991.

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Peter Brown (Anthony Richmond) watches his friend Ian leave before making his way home. The corner of Upper North Street and Canton Street with St. Mary & St. Joseph Church in the background.

Peter passes through Chrisp Street Market in Poplar. Paul Singleton adds that the location is a 5 to 10 minute walk from the school and was a favourite spot for children to hang out at lunchtime eating chips, pease pudding etc.

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This image was found by Greg on www.geograph.org.uk and remains the copyright of David Bradbury.

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Dodging between the crowded stalls in Market Square, Peter finds a marble lying on the ground. In the centre background stands The Festive Briton public house with Chrisp Street beyond.

Nancy (Rosalind Gourgey) meets her friend Peter and the two look longingly at the toys for sale before setting off home. Market Square in Poplar E14 seen from near Grundy Street.

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A few additions have been made to the Market Square. (PW)

Peter spots his Dad's lorry coming to a stand. Looking onto Grundy Street outside The Festival Inn public house with Kerbey Street in the background. The artwork to the right depicts people standing around the Festival of Britain's Skylon.

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The old looking lamp post that appears to have replaced the Skylon is inscribed Borough of Poplar. (PW)

Mr. Brown drives Nancy and his son home. Facing eastward on Grundy Street.

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This is the view over sixty years later. (PW)

When they arrive home, Nancy's Aunt Mint (Gladys Young) is displeased that her niece has been travelling in an oily lorry. Bevington Street in Bermondsey SE16.

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The school was always there, just not visible in the 1950s. (PW)

When Nancy and Miss Mint cross the street to their house, Mr. Brown (Frank Hayden) and Peter go inside. Bevington Street with Bermondsey Wall and Fountain Dock in the distance.

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Now mature trees march along the line of the pavement. (PW)

Having accidentally discovered that the marble grants wishes, Peter goes out to play. These buildings were some of the last to remain standing on Farncombe Street SE16 as the location was soon to be buried by works associated with the realigned Jamaica Road.

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Don't dismiss this image until you see what the next pan to the left looks like. (PW)

Using the marble, the young lad makes Nancy magically appear before the two wish for a doll and a toy steam roller that they had seen in the market. Havisham and Micawber Houses stand on the newly constructed Scott Lidgett Crescent beyond the remains of the southern end of Farncombe Street.

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Not the easiest shot to replicate. (PW)

The following morning, the Milkman makes deliveries on the street outside Peter's and Nancy's homes. Bevington Street with the roof line of Fountain House prominent in the centre distance.

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And here, we can see the other half of Fountain House's roof. (PW)

Peter and Nancy return to school. Looking back towards Upper North Street gate. The building on the left contains the dining room on the lower floor with classrooms and teachers' common room upstairs. Identification by Paul Singleton.

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This is a Seety view of the schools site from Canton Street in Poplar supplied by Greg, Image copyright Google.

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At lunchtime, Peter races out of the classroom to look for his missing friend Ian. Paul Singleton adds that "Out of shot to the right, beyond the bike sheds was a mound of grass that marked the spot where the high altar of the original St. Mary and St. Joseph church had stood before it was bombed during the Second World War.

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Peter enters the swimming baths to find that Bert has stolen Ian's clothes. Paul Singleton attended this school between 1967 and 1972 and says that it appeared to have remained much the same since filming. "It was a magnificent example of 1950s futurist architecture and conceived as part of the Lansbury Estate re-development after heavy wartime bombing of the area".

After rescuing Ian, Peter returns to the pool to teach Bert a lesson using the magic marble. Paul Singleton advises that the building in the left foreground is the changing room and shower area with the school's main hall stage above. The poles to the right belong to the bike sheds which were never in use during Paul's time at the school.

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The view from Canton Street, Poplar. Image copyright Google Streetview.

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Having stopped time using the marble, Peter and Bert run past the Headmaster and Governors on their way back to lessons.

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The magic of the marble lets the children out of Mr. Pomfret's class early and Peter and Ian stand wondering what to do when Bert approaches. The gates here are the same design as those in image 041 suggesting that Rotherhithe is the location.

Carrying the doll that the marble brought to Nancy, Miss Mint confronts the Headmaster outside the school. The Blessed John Roche Catholic School closed in August 2005.

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A bird's eye view of the school at the corner of Upper North Street and Canton Street in Poplar. Image copyright Multimap.

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After wishing Nancy to join them, Peter and his pals run towards the market after being asked awkward questions about the marble by his mum. Ricardo Street at the junction with Bygrove Street in E14. In the centre distance stands the Elizabeth Lansbury Nursery School with the Susan Lawrence Primary School behind to the right.

The youngster waits for the others to catch up before playing pranks on the shoppers using the marble. Market Place in Poplar's Chrisp Street Market.

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The skyline remains much the same . . . . you just can't see it. (PW)

Peter has an idea and the friends run from the market. Chrisp Street Market in Poplar.

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Grundy Street was replaced by extensions to the Market Place a long time ago. (PW)

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Watched by Nancy, Bert and Ian, Peter places the clockwork steamroller in the road before wishing it to be big enough to ride on.

The children climb aboard the steamroller and set off through the streets. This is possibly Canon Beck Road with the Duke of Clarence public house on the extreme left.

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In fairness, having seen many old photos of the area, a lot of the poorly constructed buildings did need to be demolished and replaced. (PW)

A pan follows the massive toy road roller. Again, likely to be Canon Beck Road with one of the holders of Rotherhithe Gasworks visible through a gap in the ruined buildings.

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Buildings now prevent a view of the gasometer, so this is taken from the entrance to Clifton Place.

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Mrs. Brown (Bay White) appears and is shocked to see her son and his friends riding on the huge toy.

Discovering that they cannot stop the steamroller, the children are carried away. Looking north-east on Albion Street facing the junction of Swan Road with the Lord Nelson public house and properties on Canon Beck Road in the distance. Pine House is seen under construction on the left.

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Pine House was completed and still stands. (PW)

Trying to wish the roller to stop, Peter drops the marble and it is crushed by the roller. Neston Street in Rotherhithe with houses that still stand on Brunel Road in the distance.

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The line of the street is now occupied by Clifton Place. (PW)

A reprise of Neston Street with houses that still stand on Brunel Road in the distance.

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And these are the distant houses. (PW)

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Peter's mother and Mr. Pomfrett stop in their tracks when the steamroller reverses direction.

The roller reverses again to head towards Mr. Pomfrett and Mrs. Brown once more. The northern extremity of Ainsty Street SE16 with the Malthouse granary in the background and a doorway of St. Mary’s Institute to the right.

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The former location of the short length of road. (PW)

The Schoolmaster and Mrs. Brown turn to run from the roller's path again. Rotherhithe Street in SE16 with The Mayflower public house to the right of centre and St. Mary's Church on the corner of St. Marychurch Street on the extreme left. The pub also makes an appearance in 'The Limping Man'.

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It's disheartening to find scaffolding around buildings when we arrive to take comparison shots . . . but luckily, the pub was still open. (PW)

Miss Mint appears, shouting at her niece. Looking towards Canon Beck Road from Albion Street with the Lord Nelson to the right. The corners of the narrow Ainsty Street can be seen either side of the road.

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Remarkably similar . . . except that the Lord Nelson closed and was converted, rather well, into residential accommodation during the 2010s. (PW)

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The roller turns to follow Miss Mint as she flees from it's path. Rotherhithe is the suggested location as the steam roller doesn't appear to have ventured north of the river. These gates are of a similar design to those in image 025.

Arriving on the scene and seeing Miss Mint being chased by the roller, Mr. Brown positions himself to rescue her.

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Not a true comparison, but showing the modern walkways that now cross Rotherhithe Street. (PW)

The runaway steamroller chases Miss Mint beneath the footways where Mr. Brown is waiting. Looking east on Rotherhithe Street SE16 with Princes Mills in the right of centre distance and Matthew’s Wharf to the left.

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Looking along King Stairs Close, that was Rotherhithe Street over sixty years ago. Elephant Lane curves around where Princes Mills once stood. (PW)

The camera tilts up to find Mr. Brown and brings the chimney of Princes Mills into view.

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This is the view now from a similar position. (PW)

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When the steering wheel comes off in Peter's hands, the renegade roller heads towards the Thames side quays. This seems to be somewhere within the timber yards and sheds around Russia Dock, Stave Dock, Lavender Dock and others that comprise the Surrey Commercial Docks.

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The children are helpless to prevent the progression of the giant toy. Jackie Scott tells us that the steam roller was built on the Isle of Wight by her late father. The family have his original drawing and black and white photographs of it taken outside his workshop.

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Mr. Brown watches the roller heading for the water. It's difficult to work out exactly where this is but what appears to be one of Rotherhithe Gasworks' holders stands in the left of centre distance.

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The children jump from the footplate of the machine as it careers towards the river. A trick shot! The roadway with the roller is superimposed on a riverside scene.

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Mr. Pomfrett, Miss Mint and Peter's parents arrive as the friends look into the water to see the steamroller shrink to it's original size.

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Bert, Ian and Mr. Pomfrett trail behind as Peter and Nancy are led away from the quay.

With the terrible adventure over, Peter and his parents head for home. Rotherhithe Street in London SE16 with St. Mary's Church in the centre distance, Location identified by Francis.

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Francis also provides this comparison with added tree cover. (RL)

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