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Bourne Wood gives boost to local economy and UK film industry

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Waverley Councillors visit Bourne Woods

Councillors from Waverley Borough Council visited the Forestry Commission’s Bourne Wood, near Farnham in Surrey, on Wednesday, 27 October, to hear about its continued success as one of the UK’s top filming locations and the millions of pounds it contributes to the local economy.

The Forestry Commission manages Bourne Wood as one of the nations top filming locations while also balancing its management with the production of sustainable timber, preserving the environment for plant and wildlife and maintaining access to the woodland for local people.

Councillor David Munro, Waverley’s councillor responsible for economic development and community, said:

“We all enjoy seeing local places we know and love on the big screen but rarely get a measure for what goes on behind the scenes.  Bourne Wood is a real asset to our local economy contributing directly to local business during production but also indirectly for years to come creating tourism to the area.”

The Forestry Commission's Bourne Wood became recognised as a major international filming location when Sir Ridley Scott, film director, and Russell Crowe, actor, shot the opening scene of Gladiator here in 1999.  Since then Bourne Woods’ unique and timeless features have been shared with millions of people worldwide on screen. 

Jo Nolan, Chief Executive of Screen South, said:

"Bourne Wood is recognised internationally as a unique filming location. The co-operation and flexibility of the Forestry Commission is second to none and has seen several world class, big budget feature films attracted to the region. Because of the quality of service this type of international treasure provides, the multimillion pound filming projects support ongoing employment and local company contracts for the South East".

It’s appeal to international filmmakers has continued for over a decade with scenes from Harry Potter shot here and Sir Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe returned to film Robin Hood last year.

For a film as big as Robin Hood there were more than 750 people behind the scenes required for the production and a cast of a thousand, many of these people will have used local restaurants, shops, pubs and hairdressers.  Local tradesmen were also employed to construct the set including a medieval castle and thatched village.

Figures from Screen South, the film and media agency for the South East of England, reveal more than £76 million was generated from production companies on location in the South East between 2008 and 2009. And 77 per cent of Britons say they have chosen holiday destinations and day trips after seeing them in a movie or television series.

Production companies come from all over the world to take advantage of Bourne Wood’s unique setting. From the central clearing there are no views of modern civilisation, which means it can reproduce settings from any point in history. Over the last 11 years Bourne Wood has been a backdrop for both World Wars, a werewolf on the rampage, explosions, fires, battles, car chases and has been a variety of different countries throughout Europe and America, as well as being used for advertising campaigns and TV series.

Usually Bourne Wood is open to the public and it is only closed when it is essential for large scale filming. The income from filming helps to support and maintain nature conservation and recreation projects on Forestry Commission land across the South East.  It also ensures that the Forestry Commission can continue to deliver public access cost effectively, at Bourne Wood it is free of charge.


  1. About Bourne Wood
    Bourne Wood is a small mainly coniferous woodland on the edge of Farnham. It is a much-loved woodland and provides walking and other recreational opportunities for local people.

  2. About the UK Film Industry
    According to The Economic Impact of the UK Film Industry Report published in June 2010, the core UK film industry contributes particularly to employment in London and the South East. Around 26,300 jobs (including employees and self-employed), or 55% of the total, are concentrated in the London area, with a further 5,800 (12%) in the South East. This disproportionate concentration of film employment is common to most of the major film-producing countries, most notably of course the US which is clustered around Hollywood, but also countries like France, whose film industry is centred to a large extent upon Paris.

  3. About Screen South
    Screen South is the film and media agency for the South East of England. Its aim is to stimulate a competitive, successful and vibrant UK film industry and culture, and to promote the widest possible enjoyment and understanding of cinema in the region.

  4. About the Forestry Commission
    The Forestry Commission manages over 250,000 hectares (600,000 acres) of woodlands in England. Most of this land is open for public access and the Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in the country. For further information visit
    The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.

    Jo Spouncer, Press Officer, Forestry Commission South East
    T: 01420 23666 M: 07828 762045 E: