Dates: 1902 – present
Named after the London borough in which it was situated, Ealing Studios has been at the centre of the British Film Industry since 1902 and as such, it’s the oldest film studio in the world.
Unfortunately the studio management is unable to allow tours of the site at this time.
History of Ealing Studios
18????The White Lodge on Ealing Green is built – a two storey brick building with white render.
1896?Will Barker started making films as an amateur, using a Lumiere Brothers camera. He turned professional in 1901 and started making films on an open-air stage at Stamford Hill, London (2)
1902?Will Barker bought two properties facing Ealing Green: West Lodge (which had nearly four acres of grounds) and The Lodge. He began with a series of lavish historical dramas, all filmed outdoors. (2)
1907?Barker constructs the first covered stage at Ealing; a glass construction. Three such stages were built at Ealing. (2)
1910?Barker makes one of the first screen versions of Hamlet, all shot in one day. The sets were built inside one another and as each set was finished with, it was stripped away to reveal another behind it. The film cost a total of ￡180, but returned a profit of ￡600.
1920?Following the First World War, Barker decided to retire from the industry, and Ealing Studios were sold to General Film Renters, who leased them out.
1929?As talkies arrive in Britain, the studios were bought by Union Studios, who re-equipped the run-down studios for the talkes at a cost of ￡250,000. Unfortunately the company went into receivership soon after when the planned for income never materialised.
1931?Basil Dean extends the studio for his company Associated Talking Pictures (ATP). He took established stage acts such as George Formby and Gracie Fields and launched their movie careers.
The iconic White House Lodge is remodelled into offices for the company, by architect Robert Atkinson.
Construction began in March 1931 of the first two of the planned four stages:
- Stage 1 (1,972 sqft.)
- Stage 2 (9,576 sqft.)
November 1931 – A modest opening ceremony was held. As the paintwork and plasterwork was just drying on the new stages, Dean went into produciton of Nine Till SixI.
- Stage 3A
- Stage 3B – both stages were paired, each giving 6,035 sqft.)
1938?Basil Dean’s attempts to produce serious dramatic films failed, so he gave up on the movie business and returned to his first love, the theatre. He was replaced by Michael Balcon, a producer who’d helped Alfred Hitchcock to success at Gainsborough Pictures in the mid 1920s. He decided to rename the production company Ealing Studios.
1944?Basil Dean’s construction plan was completed with:
- Model Stage (4,819 sqft.) for special effects work
1947?The golden era of Ealing Studios begins with the production of Hue and Cry.
1955?The BBC buys the studios and spent the next 40 years creating television classics such as Colditz, The Singing Detective and Monty Python on site.
1995?The 3.8 acre site and studios are bought by the National Film and Television School (NFTS) for ￡2.6million, with the intention of moving their operation from Beaconsfield to a more central site at Ealing. However, it was soon decided that the school would refurbish and re-equip the Beaconsfield facility.
1995-1999?Independent production companies hire the studios from the NFTS, under the name NFTS Ealing Studios.
1999?The NFTS decides to sell the studio. Local press reports stated that although none of the studio buildings (including the iconic White House lodge) are listed, the local council wanted to see film / TV production continue on the site, and not to simply demolish the studio and use the site for far more lucrative housing developments.
2000?The studios were acquired by the current owners.
2001?The White House lodge building is listed by English Heritage. [Link]
2002?Plans are drawn up for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the studio.
2007?The Met Film School moves to Ealing Studios and begins to run a two year BA in Filmmaking. (it formerly ran short and weekend courses).
2010?The Met Film School establishes an MA in Filmmaking.
- 1) Link
- 2) Forever Ealing by George Perry