A house-building firm had been set to buy the famous movie complex, however dropped out of the race for the land earlier this year. The studios, in administration, have now stated a deal to save the culturally historic site has been agreed.
The Twickenham complex opened in 1913 on the site of a former ice rink. Originally called St. Margaret’s Studios they were devised by Dr. Ralph Jupp. Along with John East and Percy Nash – who left after a year to set up the still operational Elstree Studios – the three men founded The London Film Company at Twickenham and their first movie was The House of Temperley (1913).
A steady flow of successful productions followed however by 1916 the studios had hit their first run of financial issues. Over the years a succession of owners followed however earlier this year the studios fell into administration despite a healthy list of recent productions using the facilities including The Iron Lady, War Horse and television series such as acclaimed children’s show Horrible Histories.
In the 1980s the studios were home to hits such as A Fish Called Wanda, An American Werewolf, Bladerunner, Superman and The Mirror Crack’d. As well as successes the studios have also had their share of disasters over the 99 years of production at the site. In 1935 the original building was destroyed entirely by fire, this also burned a large amount of film and sound archives as well as 15 years of production photographs held at the site.
In 1937 the newly rebuilt studios went into liquidation as a decline in film production affected the complex and with the outbreak of war in 1939 the studios demise was almost a done deal when it took a direct bombing hit destroying a large part of the new studio facilities.
Saved by the Alliance Film Studios Limited, which saw the Twickenham site run as part of a bigger empire – including the Riverside and Southall Studios – the site had a revival in fortunes across the 1940s with many big box office pictures made during this period, including The Master of Bankdam, They Made Me a Fugitive, The Years Between and the Just William series. By the 1960s the studios were making movies featuring The Beatles with A Hard Day’s Night and Help! feature films, Alfie and The Italian Job with Michael Caine and Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
In a statement the film studios said yesterday, “The joint administrators are pleased to announce that following the re-marketing of the Studios, a successful bidder has been found. Sixty-two confidentiality letters were sent out, of which 21 were returned, and these all received sales packs.
“A number of offers were received and on Friday, 1 June 2012, contracts were exchanged with a third party to acquire the Studios as a going concern, retaining all of the staff. A 10% deposit has been paid to the joint administrators’ solicitors and it is envisaged that completion will take place later this year. At this stage, the purchaser wishes to remain anonymous and further details will be released after completion.” Said Gerald M Krasner of Begbies Traynor, joint administrator of Twickenham Film Studios.
The hope that the studios will continue to remain open follows a campaign to keep the site as a film and television production facility and backing involving some star names including, Colin Firth, Steven Spielberg, Sir Paul McCartney and Julie Walters.
Plans to demolish the buildings and replace it with housing was dropped when Wimpy Homes pulled out of placing a bid to purchase the land.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt refused to involve himself with the studios future, saying it was a commercial problem, not a cultural one…