Merton Park Studios

1929 – 1967


Long Lodge during the Merton Park days.


These studios in Kingston Road, Merton Park, began operation in 1929. Like Nettlefold, Pinewood and Shepperton, the stages were in the grounds of an old house – in this case, ‘Long Lodge.’  This 18th century property is the only thing remaining of the studios.  The main stage had originally been built as an industrial unit but was turned into a film stage in 1931 by a company called Sound Services.  The small stage had been an artist’s studio belonging to pre-Raphaelite artist Frederic Shields, who had lived and worked at Long Lodge between 1896 and 1911.

In the early 1930s the studios were used as an overflow by Julius Hagen of Twickenham Studios.  In 1937 the company ‘Merton Park Studios’ was formed.

During the Second World War the studios remained open, producing propaganda films for the Ministry of Information.  Promotional films were made too for various big companies like Ford, Spillers, Dunlop and Persil.  In the late 1940s they made a number of children’s films including Circus Boy and The Secret Tunnel.  

Some time between 1958 and 1960 a second main stage was built.  So the studios then had Stage A (72 x 67ft), stage B (64 x 45ft) and the ‘insert’ stage (23 x 16ft).  There was by then also a dubbing theatre, 2 preview theatres and as many as 12 cutting rooms.  Other facilities included star dressing rooms, crowd rooms, a canteen and a film library.


Merton Park Studios layout by John Wallace – courtesy of the John Innes Society.
image gratefully taken from ‘Lights, Camera, Merton’ by Clive Whichelow


In the ‘50s and ‘60s a number of low budget horror films were made here that have now acquired cult status.  These included Konga, Horrors of the Black Museum, Ghost Ship, The Projected Man, The Devil’s Doll and The Frozen Dead.  Other films had a crime theme such as The Dark Man (’51), Mystery Junction (’51) and Counterspy.


A screen grab from a film showing the studio buildings to the left of Long Lodge. One of the stages is at the end of the roadway.
The image is probably taken from the Edgar Wallace film ‘The Partner.’


Merton Park is possibly best known for the many second features that were made here in the 1950s and ‘60s.  These were produced by Anglo-Amalgamated Films at a very rapid turnaround.  Some say one a month, other accounts much faster!  This was a British film production company run by Nat Cohen and Stuart Levy that operated from the 1940s to the 1970s.

They made three police and crime based series at Merton Park – all originally intended for showing in cinemas but they eventually made their way onto TV.  Many well-known actors of the day filled gaps in their schedules by appearing in these dramas.

There were 39 half-hour episodes of Scotland Yard (’53 – ’61), 47 hour-long eps of The Edgar Wallace Mysteries (’60 – ’65) and 13 half-hour eps of The Scales of Justice (’62 – ’66).

In 1962, Joan Littlewood’s Sparrows Can’t Sing starring a young Barbara Windsor was filmed here.  By the mid-1960s these studios were often used for making commercials.  An interesting aside – the blacklisted US director Joseph Losey made several features here under various pseudonyms.

In March 1967 the Merton Park Studios production company moved to Bushey in Hertfordshire.


Clive Whychelow’s well-researched book Lights, Camera, Merton! points out some myths that have grown up about these studios.  These include the fact that Radio Luxembourg was based here.  Nope – apparently not.  Also that the first Carry On film (Sergeant) was made here.  No again.  it was filmed at Pinewood like all the others.

Clive also corrects the closing date.  Most accounts say that the last film made here was in 1967 and was the final episode of Scales of Justice, starring John Thaw.  Clive helpfully corrects this – that episode was filmed in 1966 and John Thaw wasn’t even in it.  Also, several other films were made at Merton Park after 1967.  These included a couple of productions for the Children’s Film Foundation starring Keith Chegwin (!) made in 1970 and 1971.  Several relatively obscure films are credited with Merton Park in the early ’70s including The Corpse/Crucible of Horror (’70) and Horror Hospital (’73) but a couple of very famous features also used the studios.  Ken Russell’s 1969 movie Women in Love filmed some pick-up scenes here, as did Lindsay Anderson’s masterpiece If.

The confusion seems to be that the production company moved out in 1967 but it appears that the buildings and some facilities including the film library and projection services remained here until 1976 when the site closed for good.  Most of it was redeveloped for housing but Long Lodge, the studio admin block, still stands and is currently used as offices.


I am grateful to and for some of the above information and of course to Clive Whichelow.