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Bray Studios (UK)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bray Studios
Bray Film Studios - - 1591972.jpg
The studios viewed from the River Thames in 2007
Location within Berkshire
Former namesDown Place
General information
TypeFilm and television studios
CountryUnited Kingdom
Coordinates51°29′34″N 0°40′34″W / 51.492881°N 0.676111°W / 51.492881; -0.676111

Bray Studios is a British film and television facility in Water Oakley near Bray, Berkshire. It is best known for its association with Hammer Film Productions.


Down Place

Down Place, a large Thamesside house in the Berkshire hamlet of Water Oakley, was built in the 1750s for Richard Tonson, the Member of Parliament for Windsor and relative of publisher Jacob Tonson.[1] After Tonson's death in 1772, the house was owned by the Dukes of Argyll and subsequently by John Barker Church.[2] A later owner, Mr Hudleston, sold the property to Henry Harford in around 1807.[3] The Harford family continued to occupy the house at the time of the 1901 census.[4] At some point after this, the house was vacated except for the west wing where the Davies family resided.[5] Subsequently, the main building largely fell into dereliction.[6]

Hammer Film Productions (1951–1970)

In 1951[a], Hammer Film Productions bought Down Place, a location they had used in 1950 to film The Dark Light.[6][5] The premises were largely derelict, and Hammer used the building's interior for filming before constructing a sound stage on the estate in 1952.[6][5] The first full production at the studios was the 1951 film Cloudburst.[7]

In 1959, Columbia Pictures bought a 49% share in the studios worth £300,000 (£703,097 in 2019); the agreement saw a co-production deal whereby Columbia would produce five films a year at the studios. As this five-year agreement ended, Hammer founder James Carreras sold shares in the company to Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC). This deal, made in 1963, saw Hammer obligated to move their production to Elstree Studios.[8] At this time, the studio complex of Bray consisted of four sound stages ranging from 1,900 square feet (180 m2) to 5,400 square feet (500 m2); one of the stages contained a 360-cubic-foot (10 m3) water tank. Other facilities included a stills department, dressing rooms, set design and construction departments, production offices and administration departments.[9] Audio recordings suffered as a result of the studios being within the flight path of Heathrow Airport.[9]

The final Hammer film produced in full at Bray was 1966's The Mummy's Shroud;[10] by November 1966 the move to Elstree was complete.[8] In 1968, the last member of the Davies family left the house and the wing was converted into luxury flats.[5] At the suggestion of EMI, as ABPC had become, Hammer sought to sell Bray Studios. Initially valued at £250,000 (£4,051,298 in 2019), Hammer sold the site in November 1970 for approximately £70,000 (£1,090,738 in 2019).[8][5]

Post-Hammer (1970–2014)

Following their purchase, the premises were renamed the Bray International Film Centre and a fifth sound stage was constructed. Production continued at Bray, including special effects for series such as Doctor Who and Space 1999.[6] In 1984, Redspring sold the complex to the Samuelson Group for £700,000 (£2,266,459 in 2019). Samuelson provided the complex with a £2,000,000 (£6,475,596 in 2019) investment before selling the site to a property development company who planned to demolish the sound stages and convert Down Place into office buildings. In 1991, television producer Neville Hendricks bought the complex and allowed film production to continue.[11] At this time, the soundstages at Bray were used as a rehearsal facility for large musical events and touring acts, including the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert[12] and on numerous occasions by Pink Floyd and Roger Waters.[13][14]

Sale (2014–2019)

In 2014, Hendricks announce his intention to sell the site, explaining that it was not economically viable citing competition from the studios at Pinewood and Shepperton, as well as Bray's location in a green belt.[15] He sold the complex to a property development company who submitted a planning application in 2015 for luxury apartments and demolition of the sound stage buildings; demolition of buildings at Bray began in 2017.[11]

Reopening (2019–)

Filming resumed at Bray in 2019 with all three episodes of the BBC's Dracula having scenes filmed at the complex.[16] In June 2020, Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council approved plans to expand the complex with new studios and workshops.[17]

List of productions


  1. ^ Other sources suggest 1952[5]
  2. ^ Filmed at Down Place before Hammer had established the full-time studio there
  3. ^ a b c d For this production, the studios were credited as Exclusive Studios[9]
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Although filmed during Hammer's tenure at Bray, this feature was not a Hammer production
  5. ^ a b c Although a Hammer production, only the effects unit at Bray was used on this production


  1. ^ Leyland, John (1897). The Thames Illustrated: A Picturesque Journeying from Richmond to Oxford. ISBN 9781473321885.
  2. ^ Ambulator: or, A pocket companion in a tour round London, within the circuit of twenty five miles ... The fourth edition. [The preface signed: R. Lobb.]. J. Bew. 1792. pp. 78–.
  3. ^ Daniel Lysons (1813). Magna Britannia;: Bedfordshire, Berkshire, and Buckinghamshire. T. Cadell and W. Davies. pp. 451–.
  4. ^ "Bray Studios - Chronology". The Studio Tour. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs Howard Maxford (8 November 2019). Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personnel, the Company. McFarland. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-1-4766-2914-8.
  6. ^ a b c d Christopher Winn (2010). I Never Knew That about the River Thames. Ebury Publishing. pp. 120–. ISBN 978-0-09-193357-9.
  7. ^ a b Jack Hunter (2000). House of Horror: The Complete Hammer Films Story. Creation. p. 31. ISBN 9781840680577.
  8. ^ a b c Howard Maxford (8 November 2019). Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personnel, the Company. McFarland. p. 108. ISBN 978-1-4766-2914-8.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Chris Fellner (31 July 2019). The Encyclopedia of Hammer Films. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-5381-2659-2.
  10. ^ Chris Fellner (31 July 2019). The Encyclopedia of Hammer Films. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 129. ISBN 978-1-5381-2659-2.
  11. ^ a b Chris Fellner (31 July 2019). The Encyclopedia of Hammer Films. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 28. ISBN 978-1-5381-2659-2.
  12. ^ Black, Johnny. "The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert: Behind The Scenes". Classic Rock Magazine. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  13. ^ Mason, Nick (2011). Inside Out. Orion. ISBN 9781780221755.
  14. ^ Hewitt, Sean (14 September 2007). "David Gilmour: Remember That Night – Live at the Royal Albert Hall" (PDF). Nottingham Evening Post. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Plans for film studios revealed". BBC News. 28 July 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2020.
  16. ^ a b c Cremona, Patrick (3 January 2020). "Where was the BBC's Dracula filmed?". Radio Times. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  17. ^ Bunce, Alan (18 June 2020). "Bray Studios expansion approved". UK Property Forums. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  18. ^ Chris Fellner (31 July 2019). The Encyclopedia of Hammer Films. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 500. ISBN 978-1-5381-2659-2.
  19. ^ Chris Fellner (31 July 2019). The Encyclopedia of Hammer Films. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-5381-2659-2.
  20. ^ Howard Maxford (8 November 2019). Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personnel, the Company. McFarland. p. 524. ISBN 978-1-4766-2914-8.
  21. ^ Howard Maxford (8 November 2019). Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personnel, the Company. McFarland. p. 467. ISBN 978-1-4766-2914-8.
This page was last edited on 27 November 2021, at 10:58
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