London’s Hollywood: The Gainsborough Studio in the Silent Years

London’s Hollywood:
The Gainsborough Studio in the Silent Years

by Gary Chapman

A detailed look at the British Silent Film industry with this first ever evaluation of the history, output and achievement of the most iconic film studio in England during the silent era. 

This complete overview of the Islington or Gainsborough Film studio starts with its creation in 1919 when the American company of Famous Players Lasky (later to become Paramount) bought and transformed an old railway power station in Poole Street and announced that they would bring proper film production methods to the UK.

Within two years they had failed and production ceased. But, as the studio had some of the best facilities and employed a diverse range of staff, it was rented out to independent production units. This included the enterprising duo of Graham Cutts and Herbert Wilcox and then, Balcon-Saville-Freedman who made the ground breaking picture Woman to Woman.After Gainsborough Pictures was formed, Balcon bought the studio in 1926 and through the rest of the 1920s made some of the best British pictures of the period such as The Rat, The Lodger and The Constant Nymph.

Many famous British and American movie stars were directed at Islington including Mae Marsh, Ivor Novello, Betty Balfour, Mabel Poulton, Dorothy Gish, Betty Compson and Clive Brook. It is also significant that Islington was where a young Alfred Hitchcock started his journey to become one of the most famous of British directors.

  • There is a resurgence of interest in silent film and British Silent film.
  • The Artist has ignited a new awareness in silent film.
  • The recent Hitchcock season, orchestrated by the BFI, has focused on his early silent work and many of these films were made at the Islington studio.
  • This is a totally unique concept and nothing like it has been published before.
  • Accessible, entertaining and informative.
  • The full, untold story of the Islington Studio in the 1920s.
  • Full descriptions of all the silent films made at the Islington Studio or by Gainsborough Pictures on location in Europe.
  • Charts the rise of Graham Cutts and his protégée Alfred Hitchcock.
  • Highlights the unique achievement of Michael Balcon who spearheaded Gainsborough Pictures.
  • Places the studio in context of other developments within the UK film industry.
  • Includes reference to many other pioneers of British film such as Herbert Wilcox, Adrian Brunel, George Pearson, Maurice Elvey and Victor Saville.
  • Photographic content.


BOOK 3D copy 2

Title:London's Hollywood: The Gainsborough Studio in the Silent Years
Published:July 2014
Author:Gary Chapman
Format:Paperback £14.99 ISBN 9781909230101

Hardback £27 ISBN 9781909230132

Format: Apple e-book (Epub) £8.99 ISBN 9781909230118
Format: Amazon Kindle e-book (Mobi) £8.99 9781909230125

View the sampler for London’s Hollywood here


A visual tour of the history of the Gainsborough (or Islington) studio in the silent years

‘a microcosm of the evolution of the British film industry during the silent era’.

Youtube video link




Press Release London’s Hollywood


Timeline London’s Hollywood