Denham Film Studios

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Coordinates: 51°35′04″N 0°29′56″W / 51.584569°N 0.498902°W / 51.584569; -0.498902

Denham Film Studios, circa 1938

Denham Film Studios were a British film production studio operating from 1936 to 1952. Founded by Alexander Korda, notable films made at Denham include Brief Encounter and David Lean's Great Expectations.

The studio buildings were demolished in 1981 and the site re-landscaped as a business park.


The studios were founded by Alexander Korda in 1935,[1] on a 165-acre (668,000 m²) site known as 'The Fisheries' near the village of Denham, Buckinghamshire, and designed by architects Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry. At the time it was the largest facility of its kind in the UK. In 1937, Queen Mary visited the studios while The Drum was being filmed.[2]

The studios were known by various names during their lifetime including London Film Studios, the home of Korda's London Films. It was merged with the Rank Organisation's Pinewood Studios to form D&P Studios;[3] Pinewood is just 4 miles south of Denham. Film makers were said to prefer Denham as a location, leading to Pinewood Studios being used for storage during the Second World War.[4]

Harold French's Unpublished Story being filmed at Denham in 1941

Some of the notable films made at Denham include, The Thief of Baghdad, 49th Parallel, Brief Encounter, Great Expectations, Hamlet. Bernard Miles said that "when the technicians, the electricians and carpenters and so on, on the floor, who had been watching a scene filmed, applauded, you knew it was good, because they'd seen the best." [5] Colin Sorensen, who as a schoolboy often watched the work going on at Denham recalled the sight "of the main studio buildings, a great mass of, probably asbestos, grey-green roofs" and the smell of "cellulose paint merged with newly cut soft wood." The proximity of Denham Aerodrome was sometimes problematic. Mary Morris remembered that an intimate scene with Leslie Howard, for Pimpernel Smith was "interrupted 22 times by aircraft noise." [6]

Denham's final film was made in 1952,[7] and the J. Arthur Rank Company went on to rent the facility to the United States Air Force between 1955 and December 1961. In the 1960s and 70s Rank Xerox occupied the Art Deco office buildings and used most of the sound stages as warehouses.

The buildings were demolished in 1981 and the site re-landscaped as a business park.[8]

Selected films[edit]

Made on the site during construction:

The first film to be made at the studio proper was Southern Roses (1936). Others included:

The last film to be made at Denham was Disney's The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952).


  1. ^ "Record details". Buckinghamshire County Council. 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "Full record for 'Queen Mary's Visit To Denham Film Studios'". National Library of Scotland. 1937. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Skinner, James (2008). Growing Up In Wartime Uxbridge. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7524-4543-4. 
  4. ^ "Pinewood Studio". British Movie Classics. 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Colin Sorensen , recalling what Bernard Miles had told him, on the radio programme, A Schoolboy at King Arthur's Court.
  6. ^ Colin Sorensen, A Schoolboy at King Arhur's Court.
  7. ^ "Denham Studios". British Film Institute. 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Colin Sorensen, A Schoolboy at King Arthur's Court, radio programme

External links[edit]