We are no stranger to unusual design requests here at British Spirals & Castings, but the phone call we received back in 2016 was quite a shock! Disney were producing a sequel to the beloved classic, Mary Poppins, and needed an upside-down spiral staircase for one of the film’s most memorable musical numbers, featuring Meryl Streep! If Mary Poppins had been there, she’d have told us to close our mouths- “We are not a codfish!”
“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”
The Mary Poppins Returns staircase features in a scene where Mary and the Banks children pay a visit to her cousin Topsy (played by Streep), who’s house has been quite literally turned upside down.
This is by no means the first staircase we’ve produced for a major production. Set designers, both for films and the stage, typically have a very precise idea of what they need including the minute design of spindles and the final colour scheme. As we create all our staircases in house, from casting the components to the final powder coating, we are able to provide a level of creative freedom which kit staircases simply can’t match.
Whilst the film is set in the 1930s, the home needed to have an elaborate yet authentic look to suit the eccentric character of Topsy, making our cast aluminium, traditional Victorian spiral staircase an ideal choice.
We first set about creating CAD designs for the staircase. In addition to inverting the staircase, the production team also wanted sections of the balustrade to be removed, allowing Streep to easily dance on and off the staircase as part of the energetic choreography. In addition to ornate spindles and treads, we also included solid risers with a simple embellishment.
Once the designs were approved, the team at our specialist foundry near Stoke got to work individually casting all of the components using the same greensand methods that would’ve been used in the era the film is set. The pieces were then taken to the workshop to be finished by our experienced team before being powder coated in the traditional black.
“Practically perfect in every way”
We were absolutely delighted with the final staircase and, since we sent it off, have been waiting eagerly to see it on the big screen. The film didn’t disappoint, it was just as fantastical and heart-warming as the original, and the fact we’d played a small part in creating it made it just that bit more special.
Interested in a bespoke staircase or balcony to add some magic to your own property? Take a look at our website, request a quote or — if you have any queries — get in touch via phone, email or by visiting our showroom here in beautiful Derbyshire.