The Victorian estate of Heatherden Hall in Buckinghamshire was originally privately owned, at one time used as a retreat and private meeting place for politicians and diplomats. The promise to form the Anglo-Irish agreement was signed at Heatherden Hall.
In 1934, the estate was purchased by building tycoon Charles Boot who turned the mansion into a country club for the rich and famous and then in partnership with the Methodist millionaire Arthur J. Rank, transformed the land into a film studio. Boot officially named Pinewood, because: “…of the number of trees which grow there and because it seemed to suggest something of the American film centre in its second syllable.”
Their partnership ultimately led to the development of the Rank Organisation which embraced not only film production and film distribution at home and abroad, but also catering, leisure time activities and a wide field of manufacturing interests which would, at its height, employ more than 30,000 people.
The Studios were officially opened on 30 September 1936 followed by frenzied production activity until the depression hit the British film industry.
In the late 90s, Pinewood Studios was acquired from The Rank Group PLC by a team led by Michael Grade and Ivan Dunleavy. Early in 2001, it was announced that Pinewood Studios and Shepperton Studios had successfully completed a merger, creating one of the largest and best-equipped facilities in the world.
Shepperton Studios dates back to the late seventeenth century when local nobleman, Thomas Wood, built Littleton Park, the mansion house which still stands at the centre of the 60-acre Surrey site.
In 1931 Norman Loudon, a young wealthy Scottish businessman who produced the single frame photo 'Flicker' books for children bought the manor house and land resulting in the birth of Sound City Film Producing and Recording Studios.
Whilst London Studios scrambled to refurbish to accommodate the new 'talkies', at Shepperton, Loudon's first purpose built soundproofed stages went up within 6 months and by the end of 1932, Sound City's increasingly popular facilities had seen the production of no less than seven films, two full-length features and five shorts.
Shepperton has changed hands several times since and notably has been run by the highly respected filmmakers Tony and Ridley Scott for a 5 year stint in the 1990s.
In 2001 Shepperton was purchased by Pinewood Studios.