Longcross Studios

2006 – present

(revised March 2024)

longcross aerial
Longcross North, soon after it began to be used for filming.


This facility is unique amongst all those available in the UK for film and TV making.  It has one of the largest and most unusual back lots to be found.  Originally owned by the Ministry of Defence – and in more recent years by the defence research company QinetiQ – it was where tanks and other military vehicles were developed and tested from 1941.  After the war the MoD hung onto it despite protests from locals and they only left in 2005.  It was known by several names including ‘Forces Vehicle Research and Development Establishment’ and ‘Defence Evaluation and Research Agency’.


The facility at Longcross is located next to the M3,  three miles outside the M25 in Surrey, close to Wentworth golf course.  The nearby Longcross railway station was a source of mystery for many years as commuters noted that it always remained open and trains often made unscheduled stops there, despite hardly anyone using it.  Clearly the handful of people who did were very, very important.  More intriguingly, for many years the station has been inaccessible by road and could only be reached via the golf course or down a country lane that reduced to a track, then a footpath.  There is now a housing estate nearby but curiously, it is still not possible to drive to the station.  A planning application has been submitted to build a road and drop-off area but to my knowledge, this has not yet been built.


This map from several years ago shows how big an area the whole Longcross site covers. The M3 can be seen to divide the two parts of the studios – with the stages, workshops and offices on the left and the test track and other facilities on the right.  Curiously, these are referred to as north and south, rather than west and east.
with thanks to the Longcross website


Longcross Studios are sited literally on the M3 – (OK – maybe not literally on it, but either side of it) – half the site with its extensive buildings is to the north and a bridge capable of supporting the weight of a tank passes over the motorway to the original test tracks to the south.  The test tracks were in naturally wooded landscape and look like normal country lanes and roads so could be used for filming car chases, stunts etc.  They include a long loop which is ideal for dialogue scenes in cars.  There is also a high speed track with banked corners and an off-road track, steep inclines and other challenges.  These were used in the Bond film Skyfall and a number of other movies and TV dramas too.  Sadly, in 2007 a stunt driver was killed here whilst rehearsing a sequence for The Dark Knight.

The country lane loop was used for the 2013 Christmas special of Not Going Out – a long scene in a car being shot in a controlled environment with no risk or danger from other traffic.

In the centre of the test track lot is a Victorian manor house, built in a Jacobean style, previously used as an officers’ mess and known as Barrow Hills.  Its beautiful exterior and interiors are in excellent condition and have been used on many TV dramas.  For a number of years it has been used by the BBC’s Call the Midwife as ‘Nonnatus House’.

Within the test track there is a 9-hole golf course which is certainly unusual to be found on a film lot.  Quite what secret weapon the MoD was testing here is open to question.


The Manor House, aka Barrow Hills, aka Nonnatus House
with thanks to Longcross Studios


Since January 2006, the factory units have been used as film stages and supporting facilities but this was seen as a temporary arrangement, pending redevelopment.  A planning application was submitted by the owners in 2011 to turn the northern part of the site occupied by the old factory units into a business park with smart office buildings, shops and cafes.  This was granted but in July 2013 another application was made that altered the proposals to include a number of houses on adjacent land, north of the M3.  These were completed in 2021.  The south lot will eventually become a ‘garden village’  but in the meantime is covered in temporary film stages and exterior sets.

From 2006 the whole Longcross site was co-owned by Crest Nicholson and global asset manager Aviva Investors.  In 2021 Aviva purchased the 72-acre film production part of the site from Crest Nicholson for £45m.  The housing part of the site is still owned by both companies.  More information emerged in September 2021.  Netflix announced that they were taking over a long-term lease on the north (old factory) site and planned to expand the facilities.  This was to include a number of new stages and workshops enabling them to ‘significantly increase the breadth and calibre of production facilities’.   This was an interesting development as it confirmed that the proposed replacement of the factory buildings with a new business park would not be happening after all.  In fact, planning permission for office development in the area being used as film studios has now lapsed.  Offices are, let’s face it, not as popular as they used to be and film studios are much in demand.

What has happened since on the North Lot is that several buildings have been demolished and in 2023 a large construction began to emerge near the motorway.  This is a 36,000 sq m facility to be run by Ark Data Centres, who say on their website that it will open in 2024.  This is not within the Netflix area of interest but is part of the commercial development that was originally planned.


When the studios began operating there were a number of workshops and offices and four stages.  These were the original factory units where armoured vehicles were constructed.  Stage 1 has an immensely strong roof as it contained integral cranes that lifted components – most are a very useful height too making them ideal film stages.  These are the facilities that were available before Netflix took over:


Stage 1 – 42,000 sq ft: 350 x 120 x 50ft high (This is big!)

Stage 2 – 17,600 sq ft: 226 x 78ft

Stage 3 – 12,400 sq ft: 165 x 75 x 35ft high (this was more of a workshop than a shooting stage but could be used for either.)

Stage 4 – a former helicopter testing chamber – 4,200 sq ft: 65 x 65 x 35ft high.


Stage 1, soon after it became a sound stage.
with thanks to the Longcross Studios website
One of the huge sets for Murder on the Orient Express on Stage 1 in 2016.  A length of track was also built on the south lot along with various other sets, including an Alpine mountainside.
Please contact me if you own the copyright to this photo and I will of course add a credit.


A planning application for 2 ‘Meganova’ stages on the North lot was made in September 2021.  These are described as ‘demountable’ by Serious Stages, the manufacturer.  Temporary permission was granted in December – to last until 15th June 2027.  Each of these is around 23,000 sq ft.  They may be temporary but clad in satin dark grey sheet steel, they look very smart.  In November 2023, another application was made to keep the stages permanently.  As of March 2024, this had not yet been granted, but seems likely.  This certainly confirms that Netflix sees its use of Longcross as a long term arrangement.

Soon after the new stages were built, stages 1, 2 and 3 were refurbished and reclad along with some workshops.


Longcross North, seen from the north in February 2024. The original stages 1, 2 and 3 are now clad in dark grey, as are the workshops which also appear to have new roofs.  The whole site now looks very smart and rather different from when it first became a film studio.  The two new stages can be seen next to stage 1 and the data centre is under construction in the middle distance.  An exterior set can just be made out in the far right of the photo.
photo thanks to Steve Sharpe
Stage 5.  The new Stage 4 is the same of course.  This looks very well-designed, with a grid enabling easy access.
with thanks to Longcross Studios


It has to be said that the waters are a little muddy concerning any further expansion of facilities here at Longcross.  The firm of architects Scott Brownrigg are designing the new film studios at Shinfield and HOP Bedfordshire.  Interestingly, on their website they have an image that shows a possible layout of new stages and other buildings at Longcross.  However, it seems unlikely that this firm has any involvement now with Longcross.  This was, I assume, an idea pre-Netflix.


New stages at Longcross, as they appear on the Scott Brownrigg website.
image thanks to Scott Brownrigg


My understanding is that the company that managed the studios before Netflix moved in is called Oxygen Studios.  They deserve credit for having established Longcross as a major studio with an international reputation.  Oxygen still look after Arborfield Studios and in January 2024 it was revealed that they will be taking over the management of BBC Elstree from BBC Studioworks in January 2025.  (EastEnders will continue to be made there.)  Their website states that they are involved in promotion and planning and securing planning consents. 

They also have an illustration that seems to indicate a possible development of Longcross.  This is shown below and is very different from the image on the Scott Brownrigg site.  However, it does not include the two new stages that have been built – so can’t be taken too literally.  However, note that in Oxygen’s drawing, as well as several new ones on the north lot, four stages and a number of workshops are indicated on the south lot.  Will any of this happen?  I suppose that’s up to Netflix.


The proposed expansion of Longcross, as shown on the Oxygen Studios website.  Yellow blocks are stages, pink are workshops, blue are offices.  The white buildings are where the data centre is being built.  Although the additions on the north lot should not be taken too literally, it is interesting to see the stages on the south lot, next to the new Garden Village.
image thanks to Oxygen Studios


Of course, with Netflix having exclusive access to the Longcross stages on the north lot for their productions it does mean that they are no longer available for other users.  For a while this looked as though it would affect the future of Call the Midwife, which has been filmed here for a number of years.  They use the Manor House in the Barrow Hills area of the south lot, which is not affected by the Netflix deal, but also had offices and sets on the north side, which were affected.  At least two more series were planned after 2021.  After much negotiation, it was announced in November 2021 that a deal had been struck between the BBC and Netflix.  The press reported that the ‘warehouses’ containing the show’s sets would be moved across the motorway to the Barrow Hills side of the studios.  I think what this probably meant was that one or more rapid-build temporary stages would  be erected on the south lot and the show’s sets rebuilt within them.  According to The Mirror, the relocation would cost ‘at least £1million’, which would be spread between the BBC, distributor BBC Studios and the production company, Neal Street.



So far I have concentrated on Longcross North, which is now controlled by Netflix.  However, Longcross South is operating independently under the management of Serious Stages.  They have constructed several rapid build/demountable stages and workshops since about 2021.  Serious Stages were established 40 years ago in Somerset to build stages for the Glastonbury festival.   Most of the south site is earmarked for a ‘Garden Village’ with hundreds of homes and other facilities.  This is still going through planning, and construction seems unlikely before 2028.

In the meantime, the south site has been host to a number of feature films and TV dramas.  Large sets have been constructed on the back lots and the demand for stage space has been high.  In fact, by January 2024 there were 12 stages with two more about to be erected.  These are a mix of solidly built sound stages with concrete and composite panelled sides and others walled with high strength PVC sheeting.  All are large and some are very large indeed.  There are also a number of workshops.

In 2023 Serious Stages applied for planning permission to keep all the existing stages for a few more years and construct two more.  This was passed but everything must be cleared by 31st January 2028.  By then we may have seen more new stages on the north lot and on the west corner of the south lot, which is not part of the Garden Village.


Longcross South, probably in 2022, as seen on Apple Maps.  It clearly shows a number of temporary stages and workshops and judging by the number of vehicles, it is all very busy.  Call the Midwife’s ‘Nonnatus House’ can be made out in the middle of the trees right of centre.  The very large grey construction is Stage 1 at 44,000 sq ft.  Most of this will eventually become a ‘Garden Village’ with hundreds of houses and other facilities.
Longcross South, in February 2024, seen from the north east.  Two more stages will be built soon between the workshops near the motorway.  Note the very tall stage – this is Meganova E, which is an extraordinary 36.3m (120 feet) high.  This has been built for a specific production to contain a VERY tall set.  It will be reduced in height by the end of 2024.
photo thanks to Steve Sharpe


As of January 2024, this is how I understand the current inventory of stages to be:



Stage 1 – 42,000 sq ft.

Stage 2 – 17,600 sq ft

Stage 3 – 12,400 sq ft.

Stage 4 – 23,000 sq ft Meganova built in 2022

Stage 5 – 23,000 sq ft Meganova built in 2022

Stage 6 – 4,200 sq ft.  (I am not sure if this stage – originally stage 4 – is still in use.)


LONGCROSS SOUTH (planning permission until 31st Jan, 2028):

Meganova A – 25,000 sq ft (concrete and composite panel walls)

Meganova B – 30,000 sq ft (concrete and composite panel walls)

Meganova C – approx 20,000 sq ft (concrete and composite panel walls)

Meganova D – approx 20,000 sq ft (concrete and composite panel walls)

Meganova E – 16,000 sq ft (PVC fabric)

Meganova F – 25,000 sq ft (concrete and composite panel walls)

Meganova G – 25,000 sq ft (concrete and composite) to be constructed in 2024

Meganova H – 25,000 sq ft (concrete and composite) to be constructed in 2024

Stage 1 – 44,000 sq ft (PVC fabric)

Stage 2 – 31,000 sq ft (PVC fabric)

Stage 3 – 13,000 sq ft (PVC fabric)

Stage 4 – 29,000 sq ft (PVC fabric)

Stage 5 – 10,000 sq ft (concrete and PVC fabric walls)

Stage 9 – 14,000 sq ft (PVC fabric) AKA ‘Engine Shed’



Some of the facilities on Longcross South.  In the foreground are workshops 1, 2 and 3.  Above them is Stage 1, top left Stage 2 and to the right of that is the smaller Stage 3.  The solid-walled stages to the right are Meganova C and D and in front of D is Stage 4.  Longcross North can be seen in the distance – the dark grey building is one of the new Meganova stages there.  Incidentally, the circular concrete area is where military vehicles were once skid-tested.  In recent years it has been used to construct large outdoor sets.
image thanks to Longcross South website


Longcross has been used for many big budget movies including Skyfall.  The scene on the frozen lake at night was shot here on Stage 1 (north).  Other features have that have filmed scenes on the north and/or south lots include Clash of the Titans, Green Zone, Hugo, War Horse, John Carter, Wrath of the Titans, Jack the Giant Slayer, Fast and Furious 6, Captain Phillips, Rush, Thor: The Dark World, World War Z, Guardians of the Galaxy, Victor Frankenstein, Alice Through The Looking Glass, Assassin’s Creed, Marvel’s Dr Strange, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Murder on the Orient Express, Artemis Fowl, Angel Has Fallen, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Aladdin, The King’s Man, Death On The Nile, Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning part one and The Marvels.  The second part of Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning is said to be using Longcross too.

TV dramas and comedies made here since 2006 have included Holby Blue (Kudos for BBC1), Jekyll (Hartswood for BBC1), series 2 of Hyperdrive (BBC Comedy for BBC2), Primeval, Moving Wallpaper, Lewis, Honest, Echo Beach, Dead Set, Law and Order UK, Foyle’s War, Filth: The Mary Whitehouse Story, Enid (the Enid Blyton biopic with Helena Bonham-Carter) and part of series 2 of Broadchurch.  Since 2014 Call The Midwife has been filmed at Longcross and is set to continue on the south lot.

Unfortunately, Netflix is very secretive about its studios so it is difficult to establish what has been filmed at Longcross North since they took over.  However, according to various Internet blogs, The Gentlemen, season 2 of Andor and season 3 of The Witcher have been made here – and season 4 of The Witcher began filming from April 8th 2024.