04 Oct Slough – The Trading Estate that Housed a Television Genius
Slough often gets a lot of bad press, but it is a bustling and important place. The trading estate is huge, and is the largest in Europe – home to companies both large and small from GlaxoSmithKline to UK TDL couriers Slough has much more to it than you might think.
Something that very few people know, is that it is an important place in the history of children’s entertainment and was the filming location for many of the favourite TV shows of supermarionation master, Gerry Anderson!
Gerry Anderson founded AP films with Arthur Provis, who shortly after that left the company. Gerry moved from Maidenhead to Slough and set about creating the Fireball XL5. Lew Grade who was head of ATV invested money into this series, meaning that the premises in Slough could be set up.
The studios were based on Stirling Road Slough trading estate were the place where programmes such as Stingray, Thunderbirds, Joe 90 and Captain Scarlet were all brought to life! These programmes were a huge part of the 60s culture and part of many happy childhood memories for people all over the world. The futuristic ideas behind the shows were a huge part of the culture of the time – the space race and the cold war rumbled on in the background, and a lot of the futuristic imaginings behind the shows helped to ignite the imaginations of kids at the time.
The programmes made by Gerry Anderson were incredibly forward thinking in many ways – for a children’s show to have special effects that were so ahead of the times in the 1960s made them a firm favourite – the explosions and action scenes were all created at the studios in Slough, and the sets were created painstakingly to make the worlds that the puppets inhabited very realistic.
In 1963, Gerry Anderson created the first series that was filmed in colour – Stingray. The adventures of the brave submariners of the World Aquanaut Security Patrol, or ‘WASP’ were another huge hit, and the underwater scenes of battles were enjoyed by kids everywhere.
After Stingray, the most famous of all Andersons puppet series was created – Thunderbirds. As popular with kids today as it was back in the 1960s, the International Rescue team living on their secluded paradise island and armed with state-of-the-art technology went on to save people in trouble, and the world from dastardly villain the Hood. As well as many scenes being filmed on the land and underwater, Thunderbirds also took the action into space, with both Thunderbird 5, and Thunderbird 3.
After Thunderbirds came another huge hit – Captain Scarlet. The indestructible captain working for Spectrum, doing battle with the Mysterons of mars, and of course the famous Joe McClaine who had the expertise and knowledge he needed directly beamed into his head, Joe 90. At the end of the 1960s, Gerry Anderson went onto making live action programmes that were as popular as the puppet series – Space 1999 and UFO were both favourites.