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Wembley Park Studios - History

The first Wembley Stadium was constructed on the site of Wembley Park Tower.

The site which was to become Wembley Park Studios was originally part of the British Empire Exhibition opened by King George V in April 1924.

After the exhibition closed, the Lucullus Garden Club in the exhibition grounds was converted into a film studio by British Talking Pictures, a company formed to develop the new invention of sound films.

Two stages were destroyed by fire, and were rebuilt to be larger and more modern. The first production made in the new studios was Wedding Rehearsal directed by the young Alexander Korda.

Fox Films
(later 20th Century Fox) takes over ownership.

The studios were used by the Army Kinema Corporation during the war years. In 1943, Wembley had its second big fire, which destroyed No.2 Stage (now the site of Studio 4) which at the time was being used for film cutting and dispatch. Like the first fire 14 years earlier, the cause of the outbreak remained a mystery.

The final feature film shot on the site was The Ship That Died Of Shame

January: The studio was taken over by Rediffusion Television. With the scenery from the last feature filmstill littering the studios, the spaces were converted ready for the start of Independent Television in London in only 9 months. The largest stage (Stage 5) was split into studios 1 & 2 with television control rooms dividing it. More than 20 miles of sound, video and control cables were installed. Studios 1 & 2 were finished by the start of September and two more studios were in service by the end of the year.

June: The newly constructed 14,000 square foot Studio 5 first went on air in June 1960. With space enough to contain a complete circus ring, a dance floor, a full-scale orchestra, and an audience of 500, studio 5 was the scene of many of Rediffusion Television's major productions. This studio, at the time one of the world's largest specially built for television, has an unusual design. It can be used in two ways: either as one huge studio with up to eight cameras directed from a single control room, or as two self-contained studios, 5a and 5b. When this happens two massive 25-ton steel doors are lowered at a speed of one foot per minute. The connecting side doors are closed, and each sound-proof section can then be used independently for two quite separate productions.

Rediffusion loses its franchise with ITV and the studio briefly becomes a broadcast base for London Weekend Television (LWT).

LWT left the site, leaving the studios unoccupied for several years.

Lighting and equipment suppliers Lee Electric buys the site, now known as Lee International Film Studios, Wembley. Between 1977 and 1979 Lee Electric completely refurbished and refitted these studios for film and television productions and commercials.

Lee Electric acquired Shepperton Studios (now renamed Lee International Studios, Shepperton).

July 1986
Lee leaves the Wembley site, having completing upgrades of the facilities at Shepperton.

Limehouse Television took over the site. Their parent company Trilion bought the studio on June 9th after their previous base (a warehouse at Canary Wharf) was needed for redevelopment.
They set about demolishing the old film studio buildings, but a promised 'media village' was never built and instead their overall parent company (Brent Walker Group) did the same as at Elstree and used the site for retail. It was two years before the retail park was built, and until 1991 the rubble of the film studios remained.
Studios 1-4 were demolished, leaving the huge Studio 5.

December 1992
In the midst of a recession, Trilion went into receivership., taking Limehouse Television with them.

Fountain Studios buys the studio as it expands from previous facilities in New Malden, Surrey, where it was home to successful long-running shows like 'Ready, Steady Cook' produced by GMG Endemol. Around six months work was needed to get the studios and control rooms fully operational and up to modern specifications.

After refurbishment, Fountain Studios at Wembley opens its doors with Hearts of Gold featuring Esther Rantzen and Talking Telephone Numbers from Celador.
Studio 5 (now known as Studio A & Studio B), at over 39 × 27 metres within the firelanes, is the largest single fully equipped television studio in Britain, some 30% larger than Studio 1 at BBC Television Centre. An unusual feature of the facility is a soundproof double door which can be lowered in 30 minutes to reconfigure the space into two separate studios, each with their own independent control facilities.

Fountain won the Broadcast Award for Best Studio Facilities.

The new Wembley Stadium had a lower pitch than the old stadium and during construction, the concrete foundations of the Wembley Park Tower were rediscovered.

On 3rd July 2006 it was announced that the owners of Fountain - Medal Entertainment and Media - were selling the studios to a secret purchaser. An announcement was made early in September that the new owners were investment holding firm InvestinMedia. According to a press release they bought the studios for £6.8m.


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