Ernest G. Roy

Ernest G. Roy was a British film producer who was Managing Director of Kay (West End) Laboratories, Kay Carlton Hill Studios Ltd and Nettlefold Studios. He headed production for Kay's after the Second World War, overseeing films made at the company's Nettlefold Studios in Walton-on-Thames which had previously been the Hepworth Studio, often in collaboration with Butcher's Film Service (a production and distribution company). The studio had produced silent films on its two glass-house stages. When Talkies came in it was re-structured, soundproofed and an extra stage added. Notable amongst them were a series of Paul Temple films. He produced Laurence Harvey's first starring film, There Is Another Sun. His final film at Kay's was Marilyn (1953).[1]

Ernest G. Roy

Nettlefold Studios had been owned by the Birmingham Industrial family and in 1926 acquired film studios from Cecil Hepworth at Walton-on-Thames. The studios were requisitioned by Vickers-Armstrongs in 1940 to build Wellington Bombers. Roy seems to have bought Nettleford in 1947 and films that may be remembered from this period include Tom Brown's Schooldays (1951), Alastarir Sim's version of Scrooge (1951) and The Pickwick Papers (1952.)

Roy produced a number of top secret films at a studio in Devon which was destroyed by bombing in 1942. Production was moved to the Maida Vale Studios in London.

He was born in Clerkenwell, London, in 1892, son of Charles (1857-1932) and Lucy (1859-1942). He was brother to Eliza, Alfred, Charles, Elsie and Gladys and knew Charlie Chaplin in his youth, through his association with the ensemble Eight Lancashire Lads. Prior to World War I he was manager to J. W. Jackson who had various troupes of dancers working throughout England, America, Germany and France including the Eight Lancashire Lads in which Chaplin performed.

In 1912 he worked in Paris at the Chatelet Theatre and then in the Marigny Theatre where Mistingeutt was appearing. After a year in Paris he returned to England and appeared at the old Alhambra Theatre in Leicester Square with various reviews including Eightpence a Mile and Keep Smiling. He toured all over England, Scotland and Ireland. His sister Edith Elsie Roy (1896-1925) also danced and performed with him, as did her husband whom she married in 1916, Percy Frederick Smith.

He left the stage in 1914 to join up as a soldier.

Following World War I he joined Kay Laboratories in 1919 as general manager and director under chairman David Martineau, with Alan and Louis Martineau on the board. The company was located in Red Lion Square, Holborn, London but soon moved to 22 Soho Square and had premises in Greek Street, London as well as processing facilities in Finsbury Park, North London.

Under his leadership Kay's went from being a processor of orthochromatic film to a sophisticated processor of colour film. Its name is seen on many colour films of the post-war period. The processing facility was started in 1916 and was one of the first to install colour processing equipment under the vision of George Hawkes (technical director) with A.W. Smart and Charles Parkhouse.

Ernest frequently visited 20th Century Fox in Hollywood to foster contracts with British film producers and distributors. He was awarded a Fellowship by the British Kinematograph, Sound and Television Society. His family home was Dukes Place in Wortham, Kent and he had an apartment over the studios in Greek Street, London.

He produced many films around the time of World War II.

See films produced by Ernest G. Roy

Selected filmography


  1. Chibnall & McFarlane p.66


  • Chibnall, Steve & McFarlane, Steve. The British 'B' Film. Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.
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