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MGM British (Borehamwood) - History

MGM Borehamwood (also known as Amalgamated Studios, MGM British Studios and Elstree Way Studios)

Amalgamated Studios in Borehamwood begins construction, on the north side of Elstree Way bordered by Shenley Road, adjacent to Thrift Farm.

MGM-British is set up as a subsidiary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), based at Denham Film Studios. The site was the largest in the UK at the time, occupying an area of 668,000 sqm (around 165 acres).

1937 / 1938
Amalgamated Studios finishes construction. However, the costs of construction were beyond the means of Amalgamated Studios, so they sold the studio to J.Arthur Rank in 1938.

1939 - 1945
During the Second World War the studio was requisitioned by the British Government.

Percy Jackson writes:

The Elstree Road film studios were used for the construction of major sub-assemblies for the Handley Page Halifax bomber. As I recall,there was nothing stored there. The entire site being given over to aircraft manufacture. Its official designation was DU5 (Dispersal Unit No5)
I started work there as an apprentice fitter in September 1942. I was transferred to the company main site at Cricklewood in 1945 when the production of aircraft was scaled down.
The assemblies produced at the site included:-fuselage centre section, intermediate wing, tailplane and rudder assembly.
Because of its size the fuselage centre section had to be transported on a 60 foot long trailer, known as a 'Queen Mary'. This vehicle was often driven by Sir Frederick Handley Pages daughter.

After the war Rank decided to sell the property.

MGM British Studios acquired control of the Amalgamated Studios in Borehamwood, increasing the number of stages to seven, with a total of 70,000 sq.ft.
The studio buys Thrift Farm at the west side of the site, to allow the backlot to expand.

A supplement to Kinematograph Weekly is published with some great articles about the work of MGM Borehamwood.

The studio closed in 1970, and operations were transferred to the (at the time) EMI Elstree Studios down the road.
Newspapers report on April 24th 1970 that "a joint venture for production and distribution of motion pictures in the United Kingdom was announced by James T. Aubrey Jr., president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., and John Read, joint managing director of Electric & Musical Industries Ltd. of London."
The MGM Borehamwood studio was closed immediately.

Early hours of May 31, 1973: A large fire damages a number of buildings during demolition of the old studio buildings in preparation for use as a cold store by Christian Salvesen. (Evening News newspaper report) .

During 1973, a film crew from Holiday on the Buses filmed some of the demolition for the climax of that movie.

1973 - 1986
Remaining studio buildings are used as a cold storage facility by Christian Salvesen.

Former MGM Admin building, seen in 1978 (photo copyright Roger Garrod, with thanks)

Former MGM Admin building, seen in 1978 (photo copyright Roger Garrod, with thanks)

The clock tower was finally demolished when Christian Salvesen finished operations at the former studio.
Despite local campaigns, Salvesen had declared the building obsolete, and as none of the buildings were listed, there was nothing to stop demolition.
The final clearing of the site began for industrial purposes. A leisure complex and a library was built on an adjacent site, and the backlot area was cleared for residential use.

A Sainsburys Distribution Centre is built where the main studio buildings were.


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