A film buff's dream home: Movie studios where Star Wars, Skyfall, Superman and The Dambusters were made are converted into £120million Art Deco flats complex 

  • Denham Laboratories and Studios in Buckinghamshire was home to 'Britain's Hollywood' producing blockbusters
  • Grade II listed Art Deco lab and head office was designed for British film director and producer Alexander Korda 
  • Among the famous figures to visit the site were Stanley Kubrick, Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli and Steven Spielberg
  • Now developer Weston Homes will transform buildings and 11.94 acre site into estate including 224 new homes

An Art Deco movie studios home to 'Britain's Hollywood' where flicks such Stars Wars, Skyfall and the Dambusters were made will be converted into a £120million residential complex.

Denham Film Laboratories in Buckinghamshire, was visited by the greats throughout its illustrious history with Hollywood stars including Stanley Kubrick, Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli and Steven Spielberg all stopping by to work on their movies and watch them screened.

But now the Grade II listed main laboratory and head office building, built in 1936 and designed by Walter Gropius for British film director and producer Alexander Korda, and the surrounding 11.94 acre site, will be transformed to create an exclusive residential address.

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Historic: Denham Film Laboratory and Studio processed many Oscar winning films and played a seminal role in the history of the British film industry before it was closed in 2009

Blockbusters: Among the incredible list of films edited at Denham are classics such as Brief Encounter, The Great Escape, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Pictured, a group inspect film at the lab while on a tour of the site

Blockbusters: Among the incredible list of films edited at Denham are classics such as Brief Encounter, The Great Escape, and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Pictured, a group inspect film at the lab while on a tour of the site

New life: Its Art Deco lab and head office as well as the 11.94 acre site now will be transformed into a housing estate with 224 homes

New life: Its Art Deco lab and head office as well as the 11.94 acre site now will be transformed into a housing estate with 224 homes

The new development will be known as the Denham Film Studios and will provide 224 converted and newly built homes; including 154 one, two and three bedroom apartments and 70 four and five bedroom family townhouses.  

For those mourning the loss of a seminal landmark in the history of the British film industry, developers have pledged to ensure the site pays homage to the studios - so that its legacy lives on.

Roads will be named after famous films, stars and directors, and its screening room - where Tinsel Town's big wigs watched early screenings of their award winning films -  is to be turned into a cinema and club for residents.

There will also be film themed public artwork on the grounds of the site in the form of large four-metre plates of glass, etched with scenes from the famous movies produced at the studios. 

The etched glass will be backlit so that they can be illuminated at night, providing highly striking movie themed artwork for residents and visitors to enjoy.

Other features within the new development will also include a bar and a community hall and fitness space. 

The new properties are designed around garden squares, landscaped grounds, rill water features, private gardens and protected woodland complete with parking and garaging.

The main building will be converted into 49 elegant apartments, around this will be two new green squares and communal gardens, bordered by three new four storey apartment buildings providing 105 new homes.

Pictured, an engineer examines film at Denham Film Laboratories
Pictured, an engineer photographs at Denham, once a major site in the British film industry

Cinema hub: Denham played a central role in the Hollywood film industry as well as Britain and pictured, engineers examine and handle photographs and film in the lab

Showings: Among the stars to visit Denham's screening room were Stanley Kubrick, Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli and Steven Spielberg

Showings: Among the stars to visit Denham's screening room were Stanley Kubrick, Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli and Steven Spielberg

Homage: Developer Weston Homes has pledged to pay homage to the site's movie heritage as well as displaying its buildings' beautiful Art Deco features that made Denham so special

Homage: Developer Weston Homes has pledged to pay homage to the site's movie heritage as well as displaying its buildings' beautiful Art Deco features that made Denham so special

Green: The new properties are designed around garden squares, landscaped grounds, rill waterfeatures, private gardens and protected woodland

Green: The new properties are designed around garden squares, landscaped grounds, rill waterfeatures, private gardens and protected woodland

Around the eastern side of the site there will be avenues of new three and four storey terraced housing, and to the northern section two and three storey detached townhouses; all overlooking communal landscaping and private gardens. 

The Denham Film Studios site fronts onto the North Orbital Road in Denham, providing easy commuter access into central London. The Laboratories were built in 1936 by film producer Alexander Korda as part of a film-industry complex known as the Denham Film Studios.

The main building is 66,740 sqft in size and was designed by Gropius, the world renowned architect who headed the influential Bauhaus movement in Germany, from 1919-32.

The architect designed a three storey Art Deco building with crisp white render façade and continuous linear balconies, evoking 1930s Ocean liners. It is one of only three buildings that he designed in the UK before he relocated to the United States. The building was given Grade II listing in 1985.

The Denham Film Studios and its main Laboratories building have an exceptional history, playing a central role in Hollywood and British movie making for almost 80 years.

While the studios have been visited by the royalty of the film industry, they have also enjoy the real deal - in 1937 HM Queen Mary visited the recently completed studios and film laboratory, followed in 1938 by HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

In 1939 the film studios and laboratories were acquired by the Rank Organisation which owned the rival Pinewood Film Studios in Iver Heath. The Rank Organisation decided to focus all film laboratory work at Denham, but the adjacent Film Studios Lots were closed in 1952 in favour of operations at Pinewood Film Studios.

Pictured: An aerial shot of the Denham site in Buckinghamshire, which for decades was one of the homes of British and Hollywood cinema

Pictured: An aerial shot of the Denham site in Buckinghamshire, which for decades was one of the homes of British and Hollywood cinema

Transformation: Here is a graphic of what the new £120million Denham residential development will look like on launch in spring 2017

Transformation: Here is a graphic of what the new £120million Denham residential development will look like on launch in spring 2017

Ownership: During the Second World War the site was used by the US military for reviewing top secret film footage but after it was handed back to the Rank Organisation before being sold in 2006

Ownership: During the Second World War the site was used by the US military for reviewing top secret film footage but after it was handed back to the Rank Organisation before being sold in 2006

Mordern: Developers said the new homes will feature innovative design and claimed it was the 'most exciting' project they had undertaken 

Mordern: Developers said the new homes will feature innovative design and claimed it was the 'most exciting' project they had undertaken 

The Film Laboratories are famous for their central role in the production of some of the world's most memorable movies, television programmes and TV advertisements. 

In its heyday it was the largest and most advanced film laboratory outside of Hollywood, producing over 500 million feet of film per annum on site, with completed films distributed to cinemas around the world. During the 1930s over 1,200 people were employed at Denham and even into the late 1970s there were some 700 employees at the complex. 

The Film Laboratories have been used by world famous film directors to process, edit and review their films. They include Michael Winner, Sir Peter Jackson, Alexander Korda, Ewan McGregor and Ridley Scott. 

While films produced and edited on site include: Goodbye Mr Chips, In Which We Serve, Brief Encounter, Treasure Island, The Great Escape, Clash of the Titans, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Alien/Aliens, Tommorrow Never Dies, ET, Superman 1,2 & 3, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Full Metal Jacket, GoldenEye, War Horse, Eyes Wide Shut, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. 

The 1930s building has an Art Deco stairwell with feature glass block windows, entrance foyer, storage rooms and film processing and editing rooms. One room stored all the original film footage and film scripts for the James Bond films. 

The top floor contained plush offices for the directors, one originally served as offices for Alexander Korda, the founder of the film studios, and was later the office of James Downer, the Managing Director of Rank Film Laboratories. The director's boardroom table and chairs consisted of furniture from the movie My Fair Lady.

In one wing on the ground floor were two plush mini-cinemas; used to screen film footage to major Hollywood directors, and were said to be a favourite of Bond supremo Broccoli. 

A feature that is sadly no longer around is a large tank which set the scene for a number of the studio's most popular flicks.

The four-metre deep unit was filled with water and used for filming movies including Treasure Island (1950), The Cruel Sea (1953) and The Dam Busters (1955) but  in the 1990s the film water tank was converted into a large car park.

Parts of Treasure Island and Kubrick Vietnam War epic Full Metal Jacket were also filmed in the woodland on the site.

Making a splash: Denham also had a large tank which was filled with water and used for filming movies including Treasure Island, The Cruel Sea and The Dam Busters. Pictured, actresses dive into the tank during filming

Making a splash: Denham also had a large tank which was filled with water and used for filming movies including Treasure Island, The Cruel Sea and The Dam Busters. Pictured, actresses dive into the tank during filming

Made for a legend: The laboratory and head office was built in 1936 and designed by Walter Gropius for British film director and producer Alexander Korda. Pictured, two engineers inspect film during Denham's hey-day

Made for a legend: The laboratory and head office was built in 1936 and designed by Walter Gropius for British film director and producer Alexander Korda. Pictured, two engineers inspect film during Denham's hey-day

Denham Film Studios and will provide 224 converted and newly built homes; including 154 one, two and three bedroom apartments and 70 four and five bedroom family townhouses

Denham Film Studios and will provide 224 converted and newly built homes; including 154 one, two and three bedroom apartments and 70 four and five bedroom family townhouses

During Second World War the film laboratories were taken over by the US military and used for reviewing top secret film footage and photographs taken over Nazi occupied continental Europe and Scandinavia. The laboratories were also used to produce and edit US military training and propaganda films.

After the war the laboratories were turned to the Rank Organisation and civilian use. In 2006 the Rank Organisation sold the site to MacAndrews & Forbes. In March 2014 a decision was made to close the site, which by then was employing less than 70 people.

Since 2009 there has been a fast transition to digital filming, which has dramatically reduced the demand for traditionally shot films, making the laboratories at Denham redundant.

Bob Weston, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Weston Homes said: 'For almost 80 years the Denham Film Studios played a central role in the history of Hollywood and British movie making. With its iconic Art Deco centerpiece, the retained and restored cinema once used by Hollywood directors and its illustrious history this is without doubt the most exciting, glamorous and unique restoration projects Weston Homes has undertaken to date. 

'Our vision at the Denham Film Studios is to create an Art Deco and movie inspired residential address within easy commuting distance of London via rail or road.'

The Denham Film Studios will formerly launch in Spring 2017 with an on-site marketing suite, dressed show-apartment and restored cinema for visitors to view. People interested in purchasing one of the homes are invited to contact Weston Homes now to register their interest.

Prices have not been set but are anticipated to start from £350,000, rising to £1,500,000. The development will provide a full range of homes from starter homes up to around a dozen five bedroom executive houses which will be priced above £1,000,000.

 

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