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Wembley Stadium 1923-2003 | by brizzle born and bred
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Wembley Stadium 1923-2003

The stadium's first turf was cut by King George V, and it was first opened to the public on 28 April 1923. First known as the British Empire Exhibition Stadium or simply Empire Stadium, it was built by Sir Robert McAlpine for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 (extended to 1925).

 

The stadium cost £750,000, and was constructed on the site of an earlier folly called Watkin's Tower. The architects were Sir John Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton and the Head Engineer Sir Owen Williams. It was originally intended to demolish the stadium at the end of the Exhibition, but it was saved at the suggestion of Sir James Stevenson, a Scot who was chairman of the organising committee for the Empire Exhibition. The ground had been used for football as early as the 1880s.

 

At the end of the exhibition, an entrepreneur Arthur Elvin (later to become Sir Arthur Elvin) started buying the derelict buildings one by one, demolishing them, and selling off the scrap. The stadium had gone into liquidation, after it was pronounced "financially unviable". Elvin offered to buy the stadium for £127,000, using a £12,000 downpayment and the balance plus interest payable over ten years.

 

After complications following the death of James White the original Stadium owner, Elvin bought Wembley Stadium from the new owners, (Wembley Company) at the original price, since they honoured Elvin's original deal. They then immediately bought it back from Elvin, leaving him with a healthy profit. Instead of cash he received shares, which gave him the largest stake in Wembley Stadium and he became chairman.

 

The electric scoreboard and the all encircling roof, made from aluminium and translucent glass, were added in 1963.

 

The stadium's distinctive Twin Towers became its trademark and nickname.

 

Also well known were the thirty-nine steps needed to be climbed to reach the Royal box and collect a trophy (and winners'/losers' medals). Wembley was the first pitch to be referred to as "Hallowed Turf", with many stadia around the world borrowing this phrase. In 1934, the Empire Pool was built nearby. The 'Wembley Stadium Collection' is held by the National Football Museum. The stadium closed in October 2000, and was demolished in 2003 for redevelopment.

 

The top of one of the twin towers was erected as a memorial in the park on the north side of Overton Close in the Saint Raphael's Estate.

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Taken on November 8, 2011