The English Hollywood that wasn’t: Shadow history and Esher’s unbuilt film studios

Richard G Farmer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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This article explores proposals to erect film studios on parts of the Esher Place and Ruxley Lodge estates at Esher, a prosperous and predominantly residential town to the south-west of London. Even though the studios remained unbuilt in the face of sustained local opposition, the schemes left numerous traces in the historical record. The archival legacy of these unrealised projects, and others like them, allow for the writing of a ‘shadow history’ of British film production infrastructure in the 1930s, which demonstrates that understanding what doesn’t happen, and why, is an important complement to our knowledge of what does. Having outlined why Esher, and the two estates, were thought suitable sites for the building of film studios, the article then gives details of the proposals and assesses their viability, before providing a detailed account of the local council’s reasons for rejecting them. This last section makes clear that the film industry, despite its reputation for glamour, was not always welcomed by those it neighboured or sought to displace, and so explains the council’s determination to ensure that Esher remained the English Hollywood that wasn’t.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalHistorical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
Early online date4 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


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