White City Stadium
(originally The Great Stadium) was built in
City, London, for the
Olympics, often seen as the precursor to the modern seater
stadium and noted for hosting the first modern distance
Team captains shake hands after a
Canada-United States American football game at White City Stadium,
14 February 1944
Completed in 10 months by George
, it was opened by King Edward VII
on 27 April 1908
. The cost of
construction was £
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 Olympics
used it for
training. Many events of the 1908 Olympics were 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 Australia and Great Britain (Cornwall) was held in
the stadium on 26 October 1908 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
standing with large swathes of terracing.
From 1927, the track was grassed over for greyhound racing
, while in 1931, a 440yd running
track was installed for the Amateur Athletic Association
Championships, held there from 1932 to 1970. Also in 1931, Queens Park Rangers F.C.
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 Games
were held at the
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.
table for the 1908 Summer Olympics is also listed on a nearby wall.
Photographing either is not allowed without prior permission.
In 1933, Wigan Highfield, a rugby
side, nearly became bankrupt. White City Company, owners
of the stadium, decided to move the club to White City
. Previously, only rugby union
had been popular in southern
England, professional rugby league
being the preserve of northern towns and cities. Wigan Highfield
became London Highfield
with their debts paid.
Their first try was scored by George "Porky" Davies, who went on to
play for Liverpool
and then St Helens
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
was used in the 1973 film Steptoe and Son Ride Again
Wembley's 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
From 1976 until 1978, the stadium was home to White City Rebels speedway
stadium was demolished in 1985 for BBC White City.
made a song about the stadium
and its demolition, called "White City". It can be found on their
1989 album Peace
Possible new stadium
In the first years of the 21st century there were rumours that a
42,000-seat stadium might be built, possibly for Fulham
alone or to share with QPR
. This would have been
near White City
By 2005 this was not expected to