- White City Stadium
name = White City Stadium
broke ground = 1907
opened = 1908
closed = 1983
demolished = 1985
surface = grass
1908 Summer Olympics
White City Stadium (originally The Great Stadium) was built in White City,
London, for the 1908 Summer Olympics. Completed in 10 months by George Wimpey, it was opened by King Edward VII on 27 April 1908. The cost of construction was £60,000.cite journal | last = Zarnowski | first = C. Frank | year = 1992 | month = Summer | title = A Look at Olympic Costs | journal = Citius, Altius, Fortius | volume = 1 | issue = 1 | pages = 16–32 | url = http://www.aafla.org/SportsLibrary/JOH/JOHv1n1/JOHv1n1f.pdf | accessdate = 2007-03-24] Upon completion, the stadium had a running track 24ft wide and three laps to the mile; outside it was a 35ft wide, 660yd cycle track. The infield included a swimming and diving pool. The original running track continued until 1914. There were attempts to sell the stadium in 1922, but several athletes in the team for the 1924 Summer Olympicsused it for training. Many events of the 1908 Olympicswere at the stadium itself (except for several football games hosted at Shepherds Bush Green), whereas nowadays there are many arenas. The Olympic rugby union final between Australiaand Great Britain ( Cornwall) was held in the stadium on 26 October 1908[The First Hundred Years - The story of rugby in Cornwall by Tom Salmon 1983 (published by the Cornwall RFU)] and events such as archery and gymnastics took place at White City, while some others took place at Queens Club.
The stadium was constructed to seat 68,000, built for the Franco-British Exhibition and was considered a technological marvel. It is viewed as the first modern-seater stadium but could hold more than 130,000 with large swathes of terracing.
From 1927, the track was grassed over for
greyhound racingand speedway, while in 1931, a 440yd running track was installed for the Amateur Athletic AssociationChampionships, held there from 1932 to 1970. Also in 1931, Queens Park Rangers F.C.began the first of two spells playing at the stadium, until 1933 (the second spell was from 1962–63). QPR eventually decided against a permanent move to White City and stayed at Loftus Road. The 1934 British Empire Gameswere held at the venue.
The position of the finish line is commemorated by a marker in the plaza that now stands there — part of the reason the Marathon is 26 miles 385 yards. The medal table for the
1908 Summer Olympicsis also listed on a nearby wall. Photographing either is not allowed without prior permission.
In 1933, Wigan Highfield, a
rugby leagueside, nearly became bankrupt. White City Company, owners of the stadium, decided to move the club to White City. Previously, only rugby unionhad been popular in southern England, professional rugby leaguebeing the preserve of northern industrial towns. Wigan Highfieldbecame London Highfieldwith their debts paid. Their first try was scored by George "Porky" Davies, who went on to play for Liverpool Stanley and then St Helens from 1938 to 1947. The White City Company lost money on the venture and decided not to continue with rugby league. London Highfield were precursors to Harlequins Rugby League, another rugby league side in London.
The stadium features in the climax to the 1950 film "
The Blue Lamp". It also appears in an episode, named "Man From the Dead", of 1960s television spy series " Man in a Suitcase", and was used in the 1973 film " Steptoe and Son Ride Again". In 1966, Wembley's owner's refusal to cancel regular greyhound racing meant the match between Uruguay and France in the 1966 FIFA World Cupwas played at White City.
From 1976 until 1978, the stadium was home to
White City Rebelsspeedway team. [Bamford, R & Jarvis J.(2001). "Homes of British Speedway". ISBN 0-7524-2210-3]
The stadium was demolished in 1985 for
BBC White City. The Poguesmade a song about the stadium and its demolition, called "White City". It can be found on their 1989 album " Peace and Love".
Possible new stadium
In the first years of the 21st century there were rumours that a 40,000-seat stadium might be built, possibly for Fulham alone or to share with
QPR. This would have been near White City tube station. By 2005 this was not expected to proceed.
Rugby union at the 1908 Summer Olympics
* [http://www.la21.org.uk/whitecity/stadium.html White City Stadium and BBC radio]
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