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British and Dominions Imperial Studios

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Imperial Studios
Alternative namesBritish and Dominions Imperial Studios
General information
TypeFilm studios
AddressImperial Place, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire
CountryUnited Kingdom
Coordinates51°39′30″N 0°16′04″W / 51.6583°N 0.2677°W / 51.6583; -0.2677Coordinates: 51°39′30″N 0°16′04″W / 51.6583°N 0.2677°W / 51.6583; -0.2677
Construction started1929 (1929)
Destroyed9 February 1936 (1936-02-09)
OwnerBritish and Dominions Film Corporation
1936. Fire destroys three stages of British and Dominions Studios. From the Illustrated London News 15 February 1936
1936. Fire destroys three stages of British and Dominions Studios. From the Illustrated London News 15 February 1936

Imperial Studios were the studios of the British and Dominions Film Corporation, a short-lived British film production company located at Imperial Place, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire. The studios (one of several facilities historically referred to as Elstree Studios) were active from 1929 to 1936, when they were destroyed by fire.

The company relocated to Pinewood Studios but ceased production in 1938.


British and Dominions was one of the successors to British National Pictures, which began operations in 1925 and was taken over by British International Pictures in 1927. The British and Dominions Film Corporation was formed in June 1927 by Herbert Wilcox and was registered as a public company on 13 February 1928.[1] As it had no studios of its own, its first films, which were silent, were made at Cricklewood Studios. In 1930, the company, which had been incorporated for the purpose of physically producing sound films, bought three new sound stages from British International at Borehamwood before their construction was completed. The new Imperial Studio was the first purpose-built sound studio in Europe. Blackmail (1929), directed by Alfred Hitchcock and the first British talkie, had been made at the facility before British and Dominions took it over.

Filmmakers who worked for British and Dominions included producer Anthony Havelock-Allan, who made Lancashire Luck (1937) there. Alexander Korda's London Films produced The Private Life of Henry VIII, which featured an Oscar-winning performance by Charles Laughton, at Imperial Studios.[2] The film's success in the United States and elsewhere persuaded United Artists and The Prudential to invest in Korda's proposed Denham Film Studios.[3]

The studio was destroyed by a fire on 9 February 1936, which also destroyed three of the nine stages at the adjacent British International Studios.[4] British and Dominions made a substantial investment in Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, and moved production there, including the Herbert Wilcox production London Melody (1937) which was in production at the time of the fire.[5] The company's last film was released in January 1938.

The support buildings at Borehamwood that remained after the fire were sold off to various companies including Frank Landsdown Ltd, which opened a film vault service. The Rank Organisation bought the music stage for the production of documentary films. It later became the headquarters of the film and sound-effect library, Cinesound Effects Library Ltd.[6] In 1996, a plaque was placed at the location of the former studio.[7]

Films shot at Imperial Studios

Produced by British and Dominions

Produced by other companies

Other companies used British and Dominions' studios to shoot the following films.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Wood, Linda (2009) [1st pub. 1986]. British Films 1927 - 1939 (PDF). London: BFI Library Services. p. 8. Retrieved 30 December 2021.
  2. ^ Hanson, Patricia and Alan Gevinson (1993). The American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1931-1940. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p. 774. ISBN 978-0520079083.
  3. ^ Warren, Patricia (2001). British Film Studios: An Illustrated History. London: B. T. Batsford. pp. 26, 28.
  4. ^ "Fire at the English Hollywood". The Illustrated London News. 15 February 1936. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  5. ^ Warren (2001), p.82
  6. ^ "Massive collection of recordings saved". Borehamwood and Elstree Times. Newsquest Media Group Ltd. 22 March 2001. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  7. ^ "British and Dominions Imperial Studios". Plaques of London. Retrieved 25 January 2014.
  8. ^ Wood (2009), pp.56–86
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British and Dominions Imperial Studios
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