Inside Bray Studios – The Complete Story of Hammer’s House Studio
In 1951, Hammer Film Productions took up residence at Down Place, a derelict country house on the banks of the Thames outside Windsor, and over the following decade turned it into the most unique film studio in England. This exciting new tome from Hammer historian Wayne Kinsey and Peveril Publishing traces the studio’s history from Hammer and beyond, to its closure with plans to develop the site into housing.
Over 344 pages packed with hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos, plans and drawings, you get a virtual tour of the studio, showing how Hammer’s skilled technicians turned Down Place into a working studio, complete with a backlot of building sets that became iconic in eyes of Hammer fans. The last Hammer production made at Bray was The Mummy’s Shroud, which wrapped on 21 October 1966, but the story does not end there as an incredible amount of film, TV and music work has also taken place there since Hammer left on 19 November 1966.
It practically reinvented itself as a centre for stop motion and special model effects over the next 20 years, with Jim Danforth working on When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth there, while Gerry Anderson’s sfx team set up camp in Stage 2 for Space 1999 and Terrahawks, where lots of model and miniature work was created for Ridley Scott’s Alien. But the other stages continued to be used for for a host of genre favourites, including Trog and Rocky Horror Picture Show, which were filmed almost exclusively at nearby Oakley Court, and this book includes a complete list of the films and TV shows shot here, which, for a film location nerd like me, I found most illuminating.
There’s also three separate chapters on the 1998, 1999 and 2007 Bray Open Days that were organised by Donald Fearney and Simon Greetham with some great photos, many sent in by fellow fans, of what has now become something quite historic and never to be repeated, especially since the passing of many of those who worked at the studio.
Kinsey concludes his tour with the sad demise of the studio showing evidence of the chronic damp damage that destroyed the interior of Down Place and the redevelopment plans to save it by converting into housing. Currently, the studio has reopened to a handful of productions as the redevelopment plans are finalised, but a part of the studio has already had to be demolished because it was beyond repair and the jury is still out on the future of the main house.