White City Stadium

Stadium in/near White City, existed between 1908 and 1985

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Stadium · White City · W12 ·
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2019
White City Stadium was built for the 1908 Summer Olympics, and hosted the finish of the first modern marathon.


It was designed by J.J. Webster and completed within 10 months by George Wimpey on part of the site of the Franco-British Exhibition.

The stadium had a seating capacity of 68,000 was opened by King Edward VII on 27 April 1908. Upon completion, the stadium had a running track 24 ft wide and three laps to the mile. Outside the stadium there was a 660 yard cycle track.

Many events of the 1908 Olympics were held at the stadium. Even swimming was held at White City Stadium, in a 100-yard pool dug into the infield. The distance of the modern marathon was fixed at the 1908 Games and calculated from the start of the race at Windsor Castle to a point in front of the royal box at White City.

The original running track continued in use until 1914. There were attempts to sell the stadium in 1922, but several athletes in the team for the 1924 Summer Olympics used it for training.

From 1927 to 1984, it was a venue for greyhound racing, hosting the English Greyhound Derby.

In 1931, a running track was installed for the Amateur Athletic Association Championships which were held there from 1932 to 1970. In 1934 the second British Empire Games and the fourth Women’s World Games were held at the venue.

Also in 1931, Queens Park Rangers (QPR) 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.

Between 1932 and 1958 the stadium hosted major British boxing events, with attendances peaking as high as 90,000 for the second meeting between Len Harvey and Jack Petersen in 1934.

In 1933, Wigan Highfield, a rugby league side, decided to move the club to White City. Wigan Highfield became London Highfield. The White City Company lost money on the venture and decided not to continue with rugby league. London Highfield was the precursor to London Broncos, later a leading rugby league club in London.

In 1966, the Wembley stadium owner’s refusal to cancel regular greyhound racing meant the match between Uruguay and France in the 1966 FIFA World Cup was played at White City.

The stadium was demolished in 1985 and the site went onto be owned by the BBC.

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VIEW THE WHITE CITY AREA IN THE 1750s
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VIEW THE WHITE CITY AREA IN THE 1800s
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VIEW THE WHITE CITY AREA IN THE 1830s
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VIEW THE WHITE CITY AREA IN THE 1860s
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VIEW THE WHITE CITY AREA IN THE 1900s
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White City

White City was the place which defined the modern Marathon.

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.
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