London’s Lost Film Studios
News that Twickenham Studios is to close reminds me of other now-vanished studios. At the time of its construction, close to the start of the 20th century, Twickenham was the largest studio in the UK. It made films like ‘Call of the Sea’, and steadily produced forgotten films like ‘Sherlock Holmes and the Missing Rembrandt’, made in 1932.
The 1960’s saw the studio involved in many of the world’s most popular British movies. Titles such as ‘Alfie’, ‘The Italian Job’, and Roman Polanski’s ‘Repulsion’ came to Twickenham as well as ‘Help’ and ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, the two Beatles films directed by Richard Lester. As in everything else, the big names survive and the smaller, more personal places collapse.
Pinewood and Elstree were the big studios, but many others like Denham and Ealing were scattered around London. One, the Spitfire Studios, is a couple of streets over from me and is now offices, but still has the original frontage.
Another, Gainsborough Studios in East London, situated on the Grand Union Canal, has been turned into flats. It was used by Alfred Hitchcock and has a Buddha-like statue of him inside it.
There’s a further statue of Alfred Hitchcock on the beach of Dinard, a seaside town in Brittany. Hitchcock spent time there and supposedly based the house in Psycho on a villa overlooking the beach. There’s something sniffy and very French about the Brittany statue!