One last gasp for Earls Court

Earls Court

This iconic and now historic venue opened in 1937, and joined in 1991 by Earls Court Two, still Europe’s biggest unsupported roof span.

Giant Wheel at earls court

The site had previously contained various attractions, one being the Giant Wheel 300 ft high (the London Eye being 450ft) constructed in 1896, but dismantled and cut up for scrap in 1906/06.

constrof EC(7)

In 1935 plans were drawn up and construction started. Interesting to see an almost open expanse in the land around the site.

Constr of EC

Despite 4 sets of railway tracks crossing the site, a huge steel construction was formed to go over these.

Constr of EC(4)

The plan was to build a show centre (not just bland halls) to rival any in the world, it was also to create the largest structure by volume.

How very sad, the loss of Earls Court will be, for many years we have worked in this historic venue, you feel the history when your in there, bland venues like Excel give forth no more atmosphere than a shopping mall.
Capco who bought the 77 acre ‘site’, have done so purely do perform a sort of asset strip, to clear the land to build chicken cages, in the form of flats, no doubt they will have a small percentage of affordable homes. Trust that Eaton twit Boris Johnson to usher through plans, some have in fact questioned his role as Tfl chair, and the windfall they will receive from this deal.
Constr of EC(5)

Constr of EC(2)

Despite the over run of budget and time, the UK had a ‘Show Space’ to be envied the world over.

Enough of the political rant, the loss of Earls Court will see the loss of £1 billion a year income, 2.5 million visitors, and 30,000 exhibitors (all those exhibition display graphics 🙁 to West London.

From a contractors working perspective, access to the halls at Earls is so much better than Excel, who’s limited access ramp forces a time slot scheme, causing no end of stress when loading and unloading, it never seems enough time, the jobs worth in High Vid jackets constantly hovering. Seagrave Road seems such a more pleasant place to wait – than stuck on that landing strip at Excel, the wait at such can be as much as 2 hours – due to the limited access ramps, not so at Earls Court, we have never had to wait more than half hour to gain access – whether for set-up or breakdown days.

As a venue it is purpose made, I can think of no other venue in the UK with such facilities – right in the heart of London, where such a venue should be, like the Frankfurt Messe, not stuck out on some windswept deserted and disused dock.
Looking at the structure of Earls Court it was designed for putting on shows, the Stage Doors house huge cranes and access ways.
Which other venue houses a vast 60x30mt swimming pool, hidden under its floor, huge 750 tonne floor sections moved at the press of a button.

E Court Pool

Huge 750 tonne floor sections move away at the press of a button to reveal a 60x30mt swimming pool beneath the halls floor.

earls court pool

And the pool full, taking 4 days to fill up and 2 1/4 million gallons

Winter Calvalcade scaffolding

Build up of the Winter Cavalcade at Earls Court – 1938, the ski run structure rose 100ft into the roof space. A blockbuster success, 350,000 people came to the show – despite war looming.

Winter Calvalcade slope finished

The slope ran the length of the hall.

B U F meeting

Sir Oswald Mosley packed Earls Court on the 16th July with a final rally to the British Union of Fascists. During the war years huge Barrage Balloons were built, repaired and inflated inside the 119ft high halls

Eric Pickles is due to decide whether to have a public enquiry, but I get the sad feeling its all a done deal, and another of London’s iconic landmarks will disappear beneath the bland construction of glass and concrete and the occupants who fuel the demand,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *