MGM Borehamwood

Elstree was a major centre for film production from the early days of cinema. There’s a great deal of confusion about which studios at Elstree were used for which movies / TV shows.

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

See also;

  • BBC Elstree Centre (also known as Clarendon Road Studios, Neptune Studios, ATV Studios, Central TV Studios)
  • Elstree Film Studios (also known as Shenley Road Studios, British International Pictures, EMI Elstree Studios, Cannon Elstree Studios, Goldcrest Studios, Elstree Film & TV Studios)
  • Millenium Studios
  • Gate Studios (also known as Station Road Studios)
  • Danziger Studios (also known as New Elstree Studios)

MGM Borehamwood (also known as MGM-British Studios)

MGM-British was a subsidiary of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and was initially established at Denham Film Studios in 1936.
After the Second World War, MGM-British took control of the former Amalgamated Studios site, between Shenley Road and Elstree Way, at 120 acres, this was one of the largest facilities in Europe.

The photo below shows a gathering at MGM Borehamwood during pre-production on 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Photo credit: Unknown, courtesy Mike Grant.
Left to Right: Frederick Ordway III (NASA adviser), Donald Slayton (NASA astronaut), Arthur C. Clarke, unknown, Stanley Kubrick, George Mueller (Senior Administrator, Apollo project).
More about Frederick Ordway III’s work on 2001: A Space Odyssey can be read in this article.

Kubrick and NASA meeting, 1965

Kubrick and NASA meeting, 1965

The studio closed in 1970, and operations were transferred to the (at the time) EMI Elstree Studios down the road, and the studio site was cleared for other industrial and residential uses.

This 1973 documentary features MGM Borehamwood closure around 4 minutes in. 
(Watch on BBC iPlayer)




The Studio Housing Estate which takes up part of the site has street names relating to the cinematic past.


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.

A BBC documentary featured the MGM Borehamwood closure in ‘The Big Screen’, covering film finance.

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

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.



The expansive MGM Backlot stretched out to the west of the main studio buildings, and has now all been converted to industrial uses and housing.

As well as temporary sets for productions such as Inn of the Sixth Happiness, the backlot was home to permanent sets such as the French and British streets seen below, and used in the Pink Panther films.

Thanks to Roger Garrod for some of these photos, and to Dave Larson, USA for his work restoring the photos.
The 1973 backlot stills are from the essential 1981 Wilf Watters documentary about Film Studios in Hertfordshire.
East Anglia Film Archive – Wilf Watters documentary

Productions shot at MGM Borehamwood

Feature Film (73)

The Shining1980Stanley KubrickIMDB Database page about The Shining
The non-snowy maze featuring scenes with Wendy and Danny in daylight was built on the former MGM Borehamwood backlot, as there was no room on the backlot at EMI Elstree Studios after the Overlook Hotel and maze exterior was built there.
Holiday on the Buses1973Bryan IzzardIMDB Database page about Holiday on the Buses
At the end of the movie, when Stan gets a job as a demolition operative, the brick building he demolishes is the old Stage 06 at MGM Borehamwood, previously used as the base for The Prisoner.
A Clockwork Orange1971Stanley KubrickIMDB Database page about A Clockwork Orange
Julius Caesar1970Stuart BurgeIMDB Database page about Julius Caesar
No Blade of Grass1970Cornel WildeIMDB Database page about No Blade of Grass
One More Time1970Jerry LewisIMDB Database page about One More Time
The Walking Stick1970Eric TillIMDB Database page about The Walking Stick
Alfred the Great1969Clive DonnerIMDB Database page about Alfred the Great
Captain Nemo and the Underwater City1969James HillIMDB Database page about Captain Nemo and the Underwater City
Goodbye Mr Chips1969Herbert RossIMDB Database page about Goodbye Mr Chips
Mosquito Squadron1969Boris SagalIMDB Database page about Mosquito Squadron
Submarine X-11969William A. GrahamIMDB Database page about Submarine X-1
2001: A Space Odyssey1968Stanley KubrickIMDB Database page about 2001: A Space Odyssey
This epic movie has been cited as one of the primary causes behind the closure of MGM British studios because Stanley Kubrick's film occupied more and more of the available studio space - eventually using all of it - for almost two years, thus rendering the facilities massively unprofitable in the long run. The studio closed in 1970.
Dawn of Man sequence was shot on Stage 03 at MGM
Hot Millions1968Eric TillIMDB Database page about Hot Millions
Inspector Clouseau1968Bud YorkinIMDB Database page about Inspector Clouseau
Much of the movie was shot around the MGM Borehamwood backlot.
The Mercenaries1968Jack CardiffIMDB Database page about The Mercenaries
Where Eagles Dare1968Brian G. HuttonIMDB Database page about Where Eagles Dare
The castle was a superb large scale model built on the MGM British backlot at Elstree.
Dance of the Vampires (aka Fearless Vampire Killers)1967Roman PolanskiIMDB Database page about Dance of the Vampires (aka Fearless Vampire Killers)
Quatermass and the Pit1967Roy Ward BakerIMDB Database page about Quatermass and the Pit
The Dirty Dozen1967Robert AldrichIMDB Database page about The Dirty Dozen
Blowup / Blow-Up1966Michelangelo AntonioniIMDB Database page about Blowup / Blow-Up
The Ricky Tick Club scene was shot here, along with other interiors.
Casino Royale1966Val Guest, Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish, Richard TalmadgeIMDB Database page about Casino Royale
What's New Pussycat sequence
Eye of the Devil1966J. Lee ThompsonIMDB Database page about Eye of the Devil
Hysteria1965Freddie FrancisIMDB Database page about Hysteria
Filmed February & March 1964
Operation Crossbow1965Michael AndersonIMDB Database page about Operation Crossbow
The Alphabet Murders1965Frank TashlinIMDB Database page about The Alphabet Murders
The Hill1965Sidney LumetIMDB Database page about The Hill
The Liquidator1965Jack CardiffIMDB Database page about The Liquidator
Up Jumped A Swagman1965Christopher MilesIMDB Database page about Up Jumped A Swagman
Where the Spies Are1965Val GuestIMDB Database page about Where the Spies Are
633 Squadron1964Walter GraumanIMDB Database page about 633 Squadron
A Shot in the Dark1964Blake EdwardsIMDB Database page about A Shot in the Dark
Stage 05 and it's tank were used for the Paris apartment and Seine River.
Children of the Damned1964Anton LeaderIMDB Database page about Children of the Damned
Murder Ahoy1964George PollockIMDB Database page about Murder Ahoy
Night Must Fall1964Karel ReiszIMDB Database page about Night Must Fall
The Americanization of Emily1964Arthur HillerIMDB Database page about The Americanization of Emily
The Chalk Garden1964Ronald NeameIMDB Database page about The Chalk Garden
The Yellow Rolls-Royce1964Anthony AsquithIMDB Database page about The Yellow Rolls-Royce
Come Fly With Me1963Henry LevinIMDB Database page about Come Fly With Me
Maniac1963Michael CarrerasIMDB Database page about Maniac
Murder at the Gallop1963George PollockIMDB Database page about Murder at the Gallop
The Haunting1963Robert WiseIMDB Database page about The Haunting
Production began on October 1, 1962, with a budget of $1.5 million. Exterior shots of Hill House were done at Ettington Hall, now Ettington Park Hotel near Stratford upon Avon.
The V.I.P.s1963Anthony Asquith IMDB Database page about The V.I.P.s
I Thank A Fool1962Robert StevensIMDB Database page about I Thank A Fool
Gorgo1961Eugène LouriéIMDB Database page about Gorgo
Mr. Topaze1961Peter SellersIMDB Database page about Mr. Topaze
Murder She Said1961George PollockIMDB Database page about Murder She Said
Beat Girl1960Edmond T. GrévilleIMDB Database page about Beat Girl
Millionairess, The1960Anthony AsquithIMDB Database page about Millionairess, The
Too Hot to Handle1960Terence YoungIMDB Database page about Too Hot to Handle
Libel1959Anthony Asquith IMDB Database page about Libel
The Angry Hills1959Robert AldrichIMDB Database page about The Angry Hills
The Scapegoat1959Robert HamerIMDB Database page about The Scapegoat
Another Time, Another Place1958Lewis AllenIMDB Database page about Another Time, Another Place
Corridors of Blood1958Robert DayIMDB Database page about Corridors of Blood
Inn of the Sixth Happiness1958Mark RobsonIMDB Database page about Inn of the Sixth Happiness
Chinese village was recreated on the MGM British Studios backlot.
The village set cost more than $250,000 and covers half a million square feet. The total movie budget was around $4 million.
The Safecracker1958Ray MillandIMDB Database page about The Safecracker
This forgotten movie features some shots of Clarendon Road in Borehamwood. The exterior of an MGM studio building also features, as does the car park (for the dog track scene).
Shot in 30 days.
Barnacle Bill1957Charles FrendIMDB Database page about Barnacle Bill
Fire Down Below1957Robert ParrishIMDB Database page about Fire Down Below
High Flight1957John GillingIMDB Database page about High Flight
Bhowani Junction1956George CukorIMDB Database page about Bhowani Junction
The Man Who Never Was1956Ronald NeameIMDB Database page about The Man Who Never Was
Stranger from Venus1954Burt BalabanIMDB Database page about Stranger from Venus
Knights of the Round Table1953Richard ThorpeIMDB Database page about Knights of the Round Table
Mogambo1953John FordIMDB Database page about Mogambo
Never Let Me Go1953Delmer DavesIMDB Database page about Never Let Me Go
Young Bess1953George SidneyIMDB Database page about Young Bess
Ivanhoe1952Richard ThorpeIMDB Database page about Ivanhoe
Production designer Alfred Junge's castle set was to dominate the Borehamwood skyline for some years after.
Miniver Story, The1950H.C. PotterIMDB Database page about Miniver Story, The
The Elusive Pimpernel (aka The Fighting Pimpernel)1950Michael Powell, Emeric PressburgerIMDB Database page about The Elusive Pimpernel (aka The Fighting Pimpernel)
Conspirator1949Victor SavilleIMDB Database page about Conspirator
Edward, My Son1949George CukorIMDB Database page about Edward, My Son
The first MGM movie to be made at the new studio.
Under Capricorn1949Alfred HitchcockIMDB Database page about Under Capricorn
The second movie to be made at the new MGM studio.

TV Series (6)

TitleReleasedCreator / ShowrunnerIMDB
The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine1971-1972IMDB Database page about The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine
The MGM Borehamwood backlot featured in one sketch, filmed after the studio had closed, just before the sets were demolished.
UFO1970-1971Gerry Anderson, Sylvia AndersonIMDB Database page about UFO
The series featured studio buildings as a cost-saving exercise. The Harlington-Straker main office block is Neptune House at what is now the BBC Elstree Centre. After the closure of MGM British Studios in 1970, production moved to Pinewood.
Journey to the Unknown1968IMDB Database page about Journey to the Unknown
The Prisoner1967-8Patrick McGoohan, Pat Jackson, Don Chaffey, David TomblinIMDB Database page about The Prisoner
Danger Man1964 - 1966IMDB Database page about Danger Man
Danger Man1960 - 1962IMDB Database page about Danger Man