My favourite of the ‘lost’ studios of Borehamwood is without doubt the old MGM British Studios that once occupied nearly 120 acres of land off Elstree Way.

Today, nothing is left other than the base of the wall that ran along the front of the site and an electricity sub power station built in 1947.

However, for 36 years the studio dominated that part of town and the white clock tower continued to stand until 1986.

It was a tragedy the tower was lost, but the Government refused to list it and the owners claimed it was too expensive to repair. Now a car park occupies the space.

The studio was originally built as Amalgamated Studio as part of the mid-1930s boom in British film production. But before it was fitted out, the market for such facilities went bust.

Lord Rank, who owned the newly-built Pinewood Studios, bought Amalgamated from the builders and immediately leased it to the Government to prevent any filming taking place at the facility.

For several years throughout the war, it was used for the storage and manufacture of aircraft parts until MGM bought the site in 1944.

MGM also created a huge backlot by buying the adjacent Thrift Farm — the buildings of which were 
sighted roughly behind the presentday Toby Carvery.

It spent a fortune equipping the facility and raising the heights of the sound stages to suit new requirements in filming and by the end of the 1940s, several films had been made.

Due to its obvious links with its parent company in Hollywood, many famous names of tinsel town’s golden era came to drive down Elstree Way and through the gates.

The likes of Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner, Stewart Granger, Ingrid Bergman and Gene Kelly were among the galaxy of stars who came in the 1950s.

These names may mean little to some younger readers, but they included Oscar winners and legends, which is why I was glad to suggest the names for all the roads that now cover the old backlot.

If I had my way, each street sign would have a mini plaque explaining to residents and visitors alike who their road was named after.

The 1960s saw MGM expand its facilities and make several war films such including The Dirty Dozen. With the latter, what old-time resident can forget the night-time explosions!

MGM also turned out some fine horror movies, such as Village of the Damned and Quatermass and the Pit, along with classic TV series such as UFO and The Prisoner.

However, despite having state-of-the-art equipment, great workers and increased facilities, the studio was on a path to destruction.

Some say the rot started when Stanley Kubrick took over the whole studio for 2001 and went on for ages,  blocking other work.

Some say the shift to cheaper and more realistic location-made films and the huge overheads doomed it.

I suspect in reality, the end came in 1970 when Kirk Kerkorian bought MGM and found himself overextended.

The studio was sold for less than £2million, which today would only buy you about seven houses on the backlot.

Eventually, the sound stages and other buildings made way for what is now the Sainsbury’s cold storage depot and the green fields of the backlot is home to thousands of residents — the vast majority of whom are probably unaware that the French chateau from The Dirty Dozen or Ivanhoe’s castle was once in their back gardens.

If you ever worked at MGM, let me know, as I am currently writing a book about this lost studio and already have 160 pages.