Three Mill Island, home to the studios, is one of east London’s most important historic sites, and London’s oldest surviving industrial centre. With mills on the island since the 11th century, as recorded in the Domesday Book, during its history the site has at time produced flour for Stratford’s bakers, gunpowder for Elizabethan soldiers and gin for Victorian London’s pubs.
The largest of the remaining mills – House Mill – dates from 1776, and is the largest existing tidal mill in the world.
The mills sustained damage during the Second World War, and the site was used for warehousing until, in the 1980s, three studios were founded on the site: Bow Studios, 3 Mills Island Studios and Edwin Shirley Productions. These merged to become 3 Mills Studios in the mid 1990s.
In August 2004, the London Development Agency acquired the studios, and ownership was transferred to the London Legacy Development Corporation – the organisation responsible for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – in 2010. From this point to the end of the London 2012 Games, 3 Mills Studio was the home of the London 2012 Ceremonies Team, who used the space for rehearsals and auditions for the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Legacy Corporation now runs 3 Mills Studios commercially as an important part of its mission to drive economic growth in east London. This has coincided with other work to improve the area around the studios such as the redevelopment of Three Mills Green and the Wild Kingdom play area.