Welwyn Studios

Last updated

Welwyn Studios was a British film studio located at Broadwater Road, Welwyn Garden City, in Hertfordshire. The facility operated between 1928 and 1950. [1]

Cinema of the United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has had a significant film industry for over a century. While film production reached an all-time high in 1936, the "golden age" of British cinema is usually thought to have occurred in the 1940s, during which the directors David Lean, Michael Powell, and Carol Reed produced their most highly acclaimed work. Many British actors have achieved worldwide fame and critical success, such as Maggie Smith, Roger Moore, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Daniel Day-Lewis, Gary Oldman, and Kate Winslet. Some of the films with the largest ever box office returns have been made in the United Kingdom, including the third and fourth highest-grossing film series.

Film studio Organization that produces films

A film studio is a major entertainment company or motion picture company that has its own privately owned studio facility or facilities that are used to make films, which is handled by the production company. The majority of firms in the entertainment industry have never owned their own studios, but have rented space from other companies.

Welwyn Garden City town in Hertfordshire, England

Welwyn Garden City is a town in Hertfordshire, England. It is located approximately 20 miles (32 km) from Kings Cross, London. Welwyn Garden City was the second garden city in England and one of the first new towns.

The studios were first constructed by British Instructional Films, and converted to make sound films shortly afterwards. The studios were later taken over by British International Pictures (from 1933, the Associated British Picture Corporation) [2] who used them as the base for production of the company's supporting features as well as an overflow facility for the main complex at Elstree Studios. A number of films were also made there by independent companies.

British Instructional Films was a British film production company which operated between 1919 and 1932. The company's name is often abbreviated to BIF.

Associated British Picture Corporation film production company

Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC), originally British International Pictures (BIP), was a British film production, distribution and exhibition company active from 1927 until 1970 when it was absorbed into EMI. ABPC also owned approximately 500 cinemas in Britain by 1943. The studio was partly owned by Warner Bros. from about 1940 until 1969; the American company also owned a stake in ABPC's distribution arm, Warner-Pathé, from 1958. It formed one half of a vertically integrated film industry duopoly in Britain with the Rank Organisation.

Elstree Studios Film studios based in or around the towns of Borehamwood and Elstree in Hertfordshire, England

Elstree Studios is a generic term which can refer to several current and defunct British film studios and television studios based in or around the towns of Borehamwood and Elstree in Hertfordshire. Studios have been located here since film production began in the area during 1914.

Welwyn Garden City, anxious to develop the town with home industries, had initially approached A.E Bundy, who had bought British Instructional Films, from Sir Oswald Stoll. Bundy was offered the site on favourable terms and thousands of girders left over after Stoll had enlarged his Surbiton Studios, further reduced the construction cost. H. Bruce Woolfe, producer of significant First World War documentaries, was the major figure at the studios. Welwyn was one of the pioneer studios in Britain - it produced one of the first British sound films, claimed to use the first back-projection shot - in Battles of the Coronel and Falkland Islands - , and was important in the production of British educational films. Woolfe made the popular Secrets of Nature series and war films, the afore-mentioned Battles of the Coronel and Falkland Islands and Tell England . Tell England , a story concerned with the Gallipoli landings, was directed by Anthony Asquith for British Instructional Films, and he was an artist who had been given his first chance at Welwyn studios.

Oswald Stoll Australian theatre manager

Sir Oswald Stoll was an Australian-born British theatre manager and the co-founder of the Stoll Moss Group theatre company. He also owned Cricklewood Studios and film production company Stoll Pictures, which was one of the leading British studios of the Silent era. In 1912, he founded the Royal Variety Performance a now-annual charity show which benefits the Entertainment Artistes' Benevolent Fund.

Surbiton Studios were a British film studio located in Surbiton, then on the outskirts of London. The studio was one of several opened during the boom in British production following the First World War. It was opened in 1918 and its first film was released in January 1919. Its owners were Stoll Pictures which became one of the largest British film company of the early 1920s.

<i>Tell England</i> book by Ernest Raymond

Tell England: A Study in a Generation is a novel written by Ernest Raymond and published in February 1922 in the United Kingdom. Its themes are the First World War and the young men sent to fight in it. The book became a bestseller, some 300,000 copies being sold by the end of 1939. Forty editions were printed by Cassell between 1922 and 1969, prior to the first impression printed by Corgi in 1973. A film adaptation of the same title was released in 1931.

Later films made at Welwyn included The Night Has Eyes (1942) with James Mason, Queen of Spades (1949), Quiet Weekend (1946), and Cairo Road (1950), with Eric Portman, No Place For Jennifer (1950) with Leo Genn. The studios were apparently not ideal for talkies and noises easily penetrated and made shooting difficult - the 5pm hooter from the nearby Nabisco Shredded wheat factory and the adjacent main-line railway were amongst the distractions. Of the 194 employees in 1950, 46 transferred to Associated British Picture Corporation's studios at Elstree. [3] The three-studio complex was sold in 1951 to a tobacco company. [1]

<i>The Night Has Eyes</i> 1942 film by Leslie Arliss

The Night Has Eyes, released in the United States as Terror House and Moonlight Madness, is a 1942 British thriller film directed by Leslie Arliss starring James Mason, Joyce Howard, Wilfrid Lawson, Mary Clare. and Tucker McGuire.

<i>The Queen of Spades</i> (1949 film) 1949 film by Thorold Dickinson

The Queen of Spades is a 1949 fantasy-horror film based on a short story of the same name by Alexander Pushkin. It stars Anton Walbrook, Edith Evans and Yvonne Mitchell. Evans and Mitchell were better known at the time as stage actors, this film was their cinematic debut.

<i>Quiet Weekend</i> 1946 film by Harold French

Quiet Weekend is a 1946 British comedy film directed by Harold French and starring Derek Farr, Frank Cellier, Marjorie Fielding, George Thorpe and Barbara White. A family try to relax during a weekend holiday in the country. It was a sequel to the 1941 film Quiet Wedding, with several of the actors reprising their roles. It was based on the 1941 play Quiet Weekend and shot at Welwyn Garden City and Welwyn Studios.

Related Research Articles

Lime Grove Studios

Lime Grove Studios was a film, and later television, studio complex in Shepherd's Bush, west London, England.

Joseph Grossman was a pioneer of the British film industry, most famous as the charismatic Studio Manager of Elstree Studios. Born in Dartford, Kent, the son of Myer Grossman and Rosa Morris, who belonged to Jewish families originally from Germany and Poland, he was always known as "Joe" and was famous for his nervous twitches and his Cockney humour. Joe Grossman was a contemporary of Oscar Deutsch and Michael Balcon, both of whom lived near his grandparents in Birmingham. He is mentioned in Michael Balcon's autobiography.

Walter Summers (1892–1973) was a British film director and screenwriter.

BBC Elstree Centre Television production facility in Hertfordshire, England

BBC Elstree Centre, sometimes referred to as BBC Elstree Studios, is a television production facility located on Eldon Avenue in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire.

Harry Bruce Woolfe was an English film producer and occasional director who founded British Instructional Films. The company focused on documentaries, nature films, and works concerning World War I. He was himself a veteran so had an interest in using film to re-enact the war. This links to his being referred to as an "ardent imperialist" who intended to tell heroic stories of said war. In addition to work on war films he initiated the Secrets of Nature series.

The Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands is a 1927 British documentary film directed by Walter Summers. The film focuses on the naval warfare around the Battle of Coronel and Battle of the Falkland Islands during the First World War. It was the last in a successful series of documentary reconstructions of First World War battles by British Instructional Films made between 1921 and 1927. The film was produced at Cricklewood Studios and on location off Malta and the Isles of Scilly. The film is an entirely fictional recreation with a strong documentary feel.

The Somme is a 1927 British documentary film directed by M.A. Wetherell. It re-examined the 1916 Battle of the Somme during the First World War.

Ludwig Blattner was a German-born inventor, film producer, director and studio owner in the United Kingdom, and developer of one of the earliest sound recording devices.

Gerry Blattner film producer

Gerry Blattner was a British Film Producer who worked on many films produced by Warner Bros. in the UK.

British and Dominions Imperial Studios

British and Dominions Imperial Studios was a short-lived British film production company located at Imperial Place, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire that was active from 1929 to 1936, when it ceased production after the studio facilities were destroyed by fire.

The Elstree Project

The Elstree Project is an oral history project which began in 2010. The project is conducted in partnership by the University of Hertfordshire and Elstree Screen Heritage. The project is endorsed by the BECTU History Project and Elstree Studios.

John Maxwell (1879–1940) was a British film producer. Maxwell was the co-owner of British International Pictures, which emerged as the largest British studio following the Film Act of 1927. Maxwell was a Scottish lawyer who first came into contact with the film industry in 1912. In 1927 he took over the newly-constructed British National Studios in Elstree after its founders ran into financial problems. Maxwell built a vertically integrated company incorporating film production, film distribution, initially through Wardour Films, and a large network of cinemas that enabled the company to compete with the leading German and Hollywood firms. Along with the facilities in Elstree, the company also acquired Welwyn Studios in Welwyn Garden City.

Elstree Studios (Shenley Road) Film and television production facility on Shenley Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire

Elstree Studios on Shenley Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire is a British film and television production centre operated by Elstree Film Studios Limited. One of several facilities historically referred to as Elstree Studios, the Shenley Road studios first opened in 1925.


  1. 1 2 Warren, Patricia (2001). British Film Studios: An Illustrated History. B. T,. Batsford. p. 180–82.
  2. Burton, Alan; Chibnall, Steve (2013). Historical Dictionary of British Cinema. Lanham, MD and Plymouth, England: Scarecrow Press. p. 43.
  3. Picturegoer , October 21, 1950 pp.8-9