I've had an SE1 firm do data recovery from corrupted hard drive. As I understand it, they've recovered the data (which was remarkable, but pricey at £300).
I can't confirm this, however, since I still haven't had the computer back, three months on!
I ought to clarify that I asked them to fit a new drive, since a laptop without a hard drive, (even with the recovered data on CD) is of severely limited use. Ordering and fiting the new hard drive seems to have taken months, and I keep being fobbed off with naff replies. I don't want to drop them in it until I've got the machine back, but private message me and I'll tell you who if you like.
Depending on how computer-savvy you are it should be fairly straight-forward to do it yourself, as long as there is no mechanical failure with your drive, for instance if you can hear it clicking.
Remove the faulty hard drive from your computer and fit it as a secondary drive to another computer. Then download a free tool such as this http://www.recuva.com/ and aim it at the secondary drive. This should be able to recover most, if not all, of what was on the drive.
Thanks all - these comments are very helpful. I might try my hand at recuva and see where this gets me.
Boss St Bloke was asking about the specific problem - might have to come back to you on this. Our laptop died (after it fell from a great height!!) sevearl years ago and has been taking up space in the closet. I'm looking to reclaim that closet space and will probably bin the laptop, but I want to get old holiday pix and files off it first. I do recall that the HD could boot, but until I can grab a couple of hours to concentrate on it, I can't recall exactly the issue....
You say it fell from "a great height" but you "recall that the HD could boot" - does that mean that when you turn the laptop on, Windows boots correctly? if so, then what is the corruption with the holiday pics??
On the chance that the laptop does not actually boot into Windows - let me carry on with a possible solution for you.
Did you know that you can remove the laptop's hard drive and connect it to a PC? - you can then attempt to extract your pictures and other data from the hard drive before you bin it.
Basically, you need a adaptor cable. Into one end of the cable you insert the laptop's hard drive - and plug the other end of the adaptor into your PC. The adaptors are very cheap - Maplin do them for a fiver. There is a Maplin on Bishopsgate but another store may be closer to you.
Finally - here are some instructions if you decide the adaptor cable is what you need...