Film props. and crew at Shepperton Studios
Move to Shepperton Studios
At the end of Andrew`s involvement in Star Wars, the building at Twickenham was destroyed by fire.
The plastic scrap, waiting to be removed to the council dump, caught fire and the oxy- acetylene bottles at the back of the workshop exploded.
Star Wars complete.
It was fortuitous that Andrew just about managed to get every character finished and on set.
Check out the burnt out van and roof tiles blown off the surrounding buildings.
Andrew was not popular with the neighbours, after all, 76 The Green, was only a sweet shop.
Burnt out shell..
Before the move to Shepperton Studios, Andrew & Bernadette still operated from the burnt out shell of the Twickenham home, having only one first floor bedroom left standing and accessed from a ladder from the demolished building below.
Even though Bernadette was a qualified teacher, her passion was really to get her hands dirty.
A great workshop
Without a workshop and most of a house demolished - , but with newly found fame in the film industry due to Star Wars, Andrew was approached by Shepperton Studios to move over there and supply the film industry with state of the art film props.
They offered Andrew building No. 11, the old power house, and since the new power house was next door this was an ideal location with loads of electricity and an indestructible industrial building.
Andrew had formed the company ` Shepperton Design Studios` some years earlier in 1972, and so to move the workshop back to Shepperton seemed quite appropriate, as it was Bernadette`s home town.
New staff at Shepperton
Dick George was the first to come on board. He was a fellow student at Ealing School of Art, and also an instructor at` Outward Bound`, with a serious attitude for extreme sport.
John West was an Olympic Canoeist with a passion for toolmaking and accurate work.
John now has his own business specialising in pneumatics.
Mary Lee, was lifelong friend of Bernadette, a qualified teacher who also ran her own soft furnishing design and make business.A stylish, talented person that could turn her hand to anything.
Tommy Lee, Mary`s younger brother, who joined us straight from school. A mad footballer, who now has his own business supplying film and exhibition prop.
With constant work running through Shepperton Studios and the addition of Andrew`s watersport business, the demolished premises at Twickenham was re-built. This was mostly in the evenings and weekends by Andrew & Bernadette, with press ganged input from the crew at the studios.
We installed those top pre- built, windows from ladders down in the yard: no scaffolding. Dick George was always keen to show off his climbing prowess and drag us along with him.
Oh! the abandonment of youth…..
76 The Green, is still the studio, workshop and head office for Shepperton Design Studios.
With regular income from the film business, Andrew gave up production of the `Bullock` sports cars he had been building since leaving Art School.
Although the `Bullock` cars performed well, even on the track. After making 52 of them, Andrew decided the film business was far more lucrative.
So he bought an Aston Martin. - well sort of….
He actually swapped it for some acrylic Aeroplane canopies he made for `Chipmunk` training aircraft.
Film props & more….
Andrew`s Building No. 11 was next door to the Old House at Shepperton Studios. This was occupied by Holoco ( The Who), and Andrew started to develop a set a carbon fibre trumpet shaped drums for Keith Moon, the drummer.
Unfortunately Keith died before completion, and so the project was abandoned.
The dream solution for Andrew`s business was to use the film industry to provide R & D funding for his own design of products.
Thus pushing the boundaries of composite structures, and building a range of products for a world wide market.
After the film `Krull` in 1981, Andrew decided to leave Shepperton Studios and the film business.
The business was now well established and so he moved the factory to Medomsley Rd, Consett, where he designed and built an impressive Reaction Injection Moulding plant to provide production for his new outlets in Berlin, Germany and Washington DC. USA.
Andrew had nothing more to do with the film industry and was unknown in that industry until 2004, when George Lucas claimed the Intellectual Property rights for Andrew`s creations on Star Wars.
That took another 9 years litigation to sort out. Andrew`s win in the Supreme Court spawned the creation of a new business to supply film memorabilia to the fans and collectors market.
Before leaving the site at Shepperton Studios, Andrew set up sales outlets in the USA and Germany with the products to be supplied from the factory in Consett, UK.
The site at Shepperton had done its job and given the company a sound beginning.