White City was the place which defined the modern Marathon.
Bloemfontein Road is one of the main roads of the White City Estate.
In 1908, the site of the future estate was the site of the Franco-British Exhibition
. The main roads of the estate are named after imperial possessions featured in the exhibition: Australia Road
, Canada Way
, India Way
and Bloemfontein Road. Once the First World War came along, the exhibition site fell into disuse.
In 1935, the London County Council (LCC) bought the redundant site and planned a 52 acre estate of 2286 flats in 49 five-storey blocks.
23 blocks were completed when the Second World War broke out. In 1953, the estate was completed but with only 35 blocks. The 2011 built homes housed a population of just under 9000.
The White City Estate represented the LCC’s first attempt to apply ideas of slum clearance and comprehensive redevelopment asked for in the 1935 UK Housing Act.
Bloemfontein Road - part of the White City estate
GoArt/The Underground Map
The area now called White City was level arable farmfields until 1908, when it was used as the site of the Franco-British Exhibition and the 1908 Summer Olympics. In 1909 the exhibition site hosted the Imperial International Exhibition and in 1910, the Japan-British Exhibition. The final two exhibitions to be held there were the Latin-British (1912) and the Anglo-American (1914), which was brought to a premature end by the outbreak of the First World War.
During this period it was known as the Great White City due to the white marble cladding used on the exhibition pavilions, and hence gave its name to this part of Shepherd's Bush.
The White City Stadium was demolished in 1985 to make way for the BBC White City building. Today, the 1908 Olympics are commemorated with a list of athletes inscribed on the side of the BBC Broadcast Centre Building, and the athletics finish line is marked in the paving outside the building.
The Marathon from these London Olympics played an important part in the development of the modern marathon race. In the early years of competitive international sport, the long distance marathon race did not have a standard set distance. The distance run at the first seven Olympics from 1896 to 1920 varied between 40km and 42.75 km. The starting point of the race at the 1908 Olympics was at Windsor Castle creating a distance of 26 miles 385 yards to the finishing line at White City stadium. In 1921 this was adopted as the standard distance.
To house the growing population of Shepherd's Bush, a five-storey housing estate was built in the late 1930s, which also took the name of the White City. Streets were named after countries that had featured in the exhibitions.
White City tune station was opened on 23 November 1947, replacing the earlier Wood Lane station. Its construction started after 1938 and had been scheduled for completion by 1940, but the Second World War delayed its opening for another seven years.
The architectural design of the station won an award at the Festival of Britain and a commemorative plaque recording this is attached to the building to the left of the main entrance.