Monday, 9 August 2010

Last day to get comments in to architects of proposed Bray Film Studios redevelopment

If you can, please email the architects of the proposed Bray Film Studios redevelopment - Pegasus Planning Group - with your concerns regarding the plans. They have asked for submissions by 10th August (ie. tomorrow). 

Because of copyright restrictions I can't post the leaflet itself on here, but I can direct you to the specific (weighted) questions that have been posed. 

The specific questions asked on the pamphlet that was distributed at the Bray exhibition are as follows: 

1. Do you support the proposed demolition of the large studio buildings and removal of the areas of hardstanding? Yes / No 

2. Do you support the principle of retaining Down Place and returning it to its former residential use? Yes / No 

3. Do you agree that the proposals would enhance the openness and visual amenities of the greenbelt? Yes / No 

4. Do you agree that the density of the proposed development is appropriate? Yes / No 

5. Do you agree that the proposals will enhance the setting of the listed building? Yes / No 

6. Do you agree that it is appropriate to retain an element of employment as part of the overall development? Yes / No 

7. Are there alternative proposals that should be considered such as storage and distribution? A more standard style of residential redevelopment? Yes / No 

8. Other Comments 

Your name [Optional] 

Road name / Post Code [Optional] 

Please take the time and email comments to 
We would encourage you to oppose the current redevelopment plans, which do not address the issue of maintaining the use of Bray Studios as a film studio, or retaining the existing buildings. 
Again this week I have reports from a contact interested in purchasing the property or leasing it for film production, who are unable to make contact with the owner Neville Hendricks. The various companies including Bray Management are seemingly unwilling to co-operate and open discussions - in stark contrast to what Hendricks said to parties at the exhibition last month. 

It may also be prudent to email you concerns to the Maidenhead/Windsor Planning Council ( and the Department for Culture Media and Sport ( Whilst formal planning isn't in yet, voicing concern is very important. 

Thanks again to everyone for your support.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Bray Management Ltd reveal plans

UPDATE (20/7/2010): PLEASE NOTE: Open day is next TUESDAY 27TH JULY.
Also, the email contact for the developers is

Finally we now know the full scale of Bray Management Ltd.'s plans for Bray Studios.

We have been forwarded a copy of the leaflet that has been sent to local residents outlining the plan for development.

The main points from the plans are:

  • Demolition of the entirety of the existing Bray Studios buildings
  • Conversion of the listed Down Place house, back into a private residential property (which will be lived in by the owner of Bray Management Ltd. and his family)
  • Construction on the site of 7 residential properties 
  • Construction of a new 'media centre' which will employ approx 25 people on site
Effectively this means the end of Bray Studios, the historic independent film studio founded in 1951 by the young Hammer Films company as Exclusive Studios. A property which has been home to hundred of film and television programmes, and music recording over the last 59 years.

The plans also suggest that the development will ensure a substantial reduction in the HGV traffic to the site - as traffic is currently a concern in the area, as is likely a point which will be used to persuade the council to accept the proposals.

The development is being handled on behalf of the owners by the Pegasus Planning Group

A public 'exhibition' is being held on Tuesday 27th July at Bray Film Studios, Water Oakley, Windsor, SL4 5UG between 3 and 8pm. Visitors should report to security on arrival. Comment sheets are being provided and can be deposited at the venue.

Pegasus have also said they are willing to hear from local residents and other interested parties during the current consultation. Comments can be emailed to All comments are due before 10 August 2010.

We would encourage supporters of the Save Bray Studios campaign to contact Pegasus to voice their dissatisfaction at the closure of the studios, and to stress the importance of its continued existence as a film site. Please refrain from abusive messages, and offensive language.

The leaflet does make the following comment "Whilst reuse of the existing buildings for alternative purposes remains an option, it is considered that the site offers opportunities for redevelopment that will deliver wider benefits." This suggests that if a strong case is made the Studio still has a chance to be saved.

Pegasus also indicate that formal planning applications will be made in the next 1-2 months.

A Response

Speaking personally, I have little objection to Down Place being converted back at least in some way to housing. Certainly it would make a lovely residence for any millionaire. The building has retained live-in residents throughout the last 60 years. Similarly the building has undergone much work over the years, with the inside radically altered. Any conversion though should be sympathetic to the original, and as much of the original building should be retained. Currently a projection room is housed in the old Ballroom stage and it would be a pity to loose this from a historical point of view.

I have not personally investigated the rest of the property, and it would be informative to see what the rest of the property is like, and what remains from the old studios. 

Down Place is the iconic element of Bray Studios, and once it returns to private dwellings I assume we will loose all access to the property. Many of us rightly feel the property is of cultural significance and in some way we have a right to experience that. Conversion to dwellings would prevent future events like the Hammer At Bray reunions from taking place.  The decision should not be taken lightly. 

The new dwellings that are being proposed, whilst supposedly eco-friendly, are rather dull, contemporary affairs. Much is made of the improvements to the view of Toad Hall (an separate building to Down Place), but the buildings do not fit in with the historical character of the village and surrounding properties any more than the current studio buildings do. These will be expensive properties for the elite few and will clutter the site.

As for the new 'media centre' - this looks as inept as the new dwellings. Fashionable perhaps, but also prompt the question why? The building is much smaller than the existing studio buildings and seems like a needless construction. The existing studio buildings could be adapted - but more than this, the buildings could continue to be used as studios if the Management allowed it. We have already reported how at least one producer expressed an interest in either long-term hire of the site or buying out the studio for a series of productions, only to be met with silence at Bray Management.

One must also question the funding of this. Recent filing activity for Bray Management Ltd. at Companies House suggested that the accounts were empty and the studio can not remain. But the redevelopment of the site also requires medium to long-term investment, and that finance must be found from somewhere.

We maintain that Bray Studios could continue to function as a working studio if the owners were willing to engage. Failing that, something could be made of the history of the space as a film studio, and perhaps turned into a living museum, or full muli-media space.

We would welcome any representation of Bray Management Ltd. to contact us and present their side of proposals. 

In the meantime, we will be encouraging campaign supporters to visit the exhibition to view for themselves and lodge objections and suggestions.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Bray Studios isn't just Hammer Horror

It is very easy to forget that Bray Studios, whilst established by Exclusive/Hammer Films, has a history that encompasses so much more than horror.

Incorporating the information from the now defunct (and offline) Bray Film Studios website, these are some of the clients who have used the space... (as of 2007).

Hammer also leased the studio out during their ownership. The Errol Flynn Theatre filmed there in 1956. Also filmed: Seige of the Saxons (1963), The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966) and more besides... Recent productions to use the studios include Terry Gilliam's Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus.

Bray Film Studios has been involved in the making of films and television productions for over fifty years. Starting with Hammer House horror films, we have subsequently been involved in all genres of this industry, and in all areas from film and television to music videos, rehearsals and commercials. Here are some of our clients past and present:

Live Aid rehearsals, Band Aid rehearsals, Freddie Mercury tribute concert, 911, AC/DC, A-ha, All Saints, Bryan Adams, Marc Almond, Peter Andre, Michael Ball, Shirley Bassey, Beach Boys, Bjork, Bjorn Again, Mary J Blige, Andrea Bocelli, Boy George, Boyzone, Errol Brown, Sam Brown, Bros, Brother Beyond, Chris De Burgh, B*Witched, Belinda Carlisle, Catatonia, Celtic Tiger (Michael Flatley), Charlatans, The Christians, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Beverley Craven, The Cure, Craig David, Depeche Mode, Barbara Dickson, Dire Straits, Divine Comedy, Duran Duran, East 17, Eurythmics, Gloria Estefan, Elvis the concert, Erasure, Bryan Ferry, Five, Five Star, Gabrielle, Genesis, David Gilmour, Go West, Macy Gray, Hanson, George Harrison, INXS, Iron Maiden, Jamiroquai, Sir Elton John, Tom Jones, Led Zeppelin, Lightning Seeds, Lulu, Barry Manilow, Cerys Matthews, Brian May, Sir Paul McCartney, Metallica, George Michael, Kylie Minogue, Moody Blues, Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene, Sinead O'Connor, Mike Oldfield, The Osmond Boys, The Pasadenas, Pet Shop Boys, Pink Floyd, Robert Plant, Pop Will Eat Itself, Prodigy, Queen, Finlay Quaye, Radiohead, Razorlight, Chris Rea, Sir Cliff Richard, Lionel Richie, The Rolling Stones, Roxy Music, S Club 7, Seal, The Shadows, Simply Red, Snow Patrol, Soul II Soul, Lisa Stansfield, The Stranglers, Status Quo, Steps, Rod Stewart, Sting, Take That, Texas, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Travis, Jethro Tull, Vanilla Ice, Westlife, Wet Wet Wet, The Who, Robbie Williams, Stevie Wonder, War Of The Worlds, Will Young, Zucchero.  

A Month In The Country, Alien (special effects), Britannic, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Chequered Past, Double X, Edward II, Fellow Traveller, For Queen And Country, Girl On A Swing, Jack And The Beanstalk, Hope And Glory, Loophole, MOJO, Midsummer Nights Dream, Monkey King, Mutant Chronicles, Pinocchio (sea monster scene), RKO 281, Resident Evil, Revelation, Shiner, Space Police, Still Crazy, The Hole, The Hollow Reed, The Sea Wolves, The Trench, Unconditional Love, Velvet Goldmine, Witches.  

99-1, Ain't Misbehavin, Alfred J Kwak, Anglo Saxon Attitudes, Auf Weidersehen Pet, Bad Blood, Bait, Beyond Reason, Born And Bred, Challenge To Sport, Demob, Dirty Tricks, Emma, Fimbles, Forever Green, Gone To The Dogs, Heil Honey, Hobson's Choice, How Do You Want Me, Inspector Morse, Invasion Earth, Jeeves And Wooster, Life After Life, Little Red Riding Hood, Marriage Of Figaro, Matlock, Men Of The Month, Murder Most Horrid, Murder Rooms, National Crime Squad, Night And Day, Our Friends In The North, Out Of The Blue, Paradise Postponed, Penguin Cafe, Pie In The Sky, Poirot, Red Alert / National Lottery Show, Roger Roger, Roughnecks, Ruth Rendall's Harm Done, Sex Chips & Rock n' Roll, Small Metal Jacket, Soldier Soldier, Stick With Me Kid, Still Life At The Penguin Cafe, Terrahawks, The Detectives, The Gentleman Thief, The Gift, The Manageress, The Safe House, The Unknown Soldier, The Wyvern Mystery, Titmuss Regained, Turn Of The Screw. 

Update: change for housing imminent : BRAY STUDIOS in DANGER

Things are not looking good for Bray at all.

The planning permission was granted last month for the much-needed repairs to the roof of Bray Studios' central building, the listed Down Place.

The Maidenhead Advertiser posted a report on 3rd June which gave a brief overview of the studios history and pointed to further support within the industry to keep the studios operating on some level. See here.

Then last week the same publication reported that an application was imminent to the Council for a change of use to housing - which would have gone before the Council this week. I'm now trying to ascertain what has happened myself. Report is here. But doesn't bode well.

I should point out that I was approached by an independent film production company a matter of weeks ago who expressed an interest in renting out the studios for long term or indeed in buying them out to continue use as a film studio. Bray Management Ltd. advised them that the studios were not currently for hire, and would not consider selling. The whole thing reeks of a done deal - the management company wants to make their money from conversion to housing, and is not interested in preserving the industry which has operated there for 60 years.

Whether anything can be done to halt or delay this process remains to be seen. The sad thing is, we had someone willing to look into buying the studio prevented from doing so. It appears that Bray Studios has been deliberately run into the ground to facilitate this transition. People still want to use the facilities, it still has a use, and should be allowed to continue.


Monday, 19 April 2010

So What Can Be Done?

Save Bray Studios is as much an appeal to the current owners and anyone else in the film industry who might be able to preserve the integrity of the site as not only a working studio, but an important cultural and social landmark in the history of British cinema.

The cry isn't yet 24 hours old, but we quickly must look at the question of what can be done to help save the Studio?

In the first instance we have to assume that a huge volume of cash is needed - Down Place itself is in an unhealthy state of repair. It needs a large amount of work done if the Grade II listed building is to be preserved. With the Studios not making the profit they once were (at present), the proposal appears to be to turn the site into residential property as a means of funding the restoration work. This plan will ensure the survival of Down Place, but it will necessitate the closure of the Studios, and the swift demolition of the old studio buildings. The site is as important because of the additional studio buildings as the house itself. Full plans have not been submitted yet, but it would seem possible that the building of additional houses/flats within the grounds is likely. This would radically alter the setting, and would diminish the impact of Down Place itself. One need only look at the extension work next door at Oakley Court to appreciate that even small changes have a huge impact on the feel of a site.

According to the information released Bray Studios is no longer viable as a business model - though we would suggest that the Studios need new capital investment to upgrade the equipment and allow it to compete once again. The present owners clearly have no intention or desire to do that. Instead they see the chance for a quick profit in residential accommodation that will unburden them of their responsibility. Bray Management Ltd looks at the studios as property rather than a cultural landmark and facility.

We are open to ideas and suggestions, and ways of raising funds to keep the studios alive and within the film industry. We want to maintain its historic integrity, and allow it to flourish. We want it to remain distinctive.

We want you to create awareness of this dire situation and as a community to find a way forward.

Perhaps investors can be found with millions to spare on developing, upgrading and protecting the site? Perhaps there is a way we can find for a stay of execution allowing a campaign to build and find the resources before the site is compromised.

As suggestions for discussion I put forward the idea that the studio be adapted into a film school, combining education with hands on practical experience. The space could still be hired out for productions and kept in operation while providing education.

Alternatively the space should be transformed into a working film museum, including a viewing theatre. The studio space could be preserved and some turned into gallery/exhibition space.

If you have other ideas, please share them. If you are reading this and have means to invest in the space, then get in touch. Bray Studios is a true independent studio space, and some fine examples of British film and television have been made here. Don't let that be destroyed.

Follow us on twitter:

Photo: Bray Studios, 2007. (c) Robert J.E. Simpson, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, 18 April 2010


 The world famous Bray Studios near Windsor, England is under threat. According to local news reports in the Maidenhead Advertiser (picked up by The Mirror) this week the current owners have put in an application for refurbishment work on the Grade II listed Down Place - the building at the centre of the studio complex.

However, they have also strongly intimated that they will propose to turn the building back into residential dwellings in the forms of flats, and indeed the entire Bray Studios complex will be turned from a working studio into private dwellings.

If this happens the character of the Bray Studios site will be irreparably altered and a piece of British film history will be written off.

Bray Studios came into existence when Hammer Films/Exclusive Films moved into Down Place from their temporary home next door in Oakley Court (now a hotel) in 1951. Taking on a 1 year lease before buying the site, Hammer would convert the main house into a workable studio space eventually building purpose-built studios in the grounds.

Known for a while as Exclusive Studios, it would soon be renamed Bray Film Studios. and Hammer would remain there until 1966, finally selling the property at the end of the decade. During that time Hammer made some of their most fondly remembered films and some of the most important cult British films ever - The Quatermass Xperiment, The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula, The Camp On Blood Island and Plague of the Zombies.

The space was also hired out - the Errol Flynn Theatre filmed there in the 1950s, The Who recorded and rehearsed at Bray during the 1970s, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was made there, and tv series like Inspector Morse and Doctor Who have used the space.

Bray celebrates 60 years as a film studio next year, a rare survivor from the era of classic British cinema. Its the only one of the Hammer house studios that survives as a working studio. It would be a shame to see the premises closed and the history levelled.

This site is intended to alert people to the threat against the studios, and to share something of the history of Bray. If you're interested in contributing, get in touch.

Unless another film production company can invest time and money into the site it looks like the writing is on the wall. Perhaps it could be turned into a living film museum, an authentic film experience? A theatre? Anything but levelled and turned into a series of flats.

Photo: Bray Studios, August 2007. (c) Robert J.E. Simpson. All Rights Reserved.