Grandstands - Played in Britain

Grandstands - Played in Britain

Grandstands In the post war period spectators became accustomed to seeing Leitch balconies painted in a variety of club colours. As far as can be asce...

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Grandstands In the post war period spectators became accustomed to seeing Leitch balconies painted in a variety of club colours. As far as can be ascertained, however, the majority were originally painted a dull shade of matt green. At some locations, for example Twickenham (page 155) and the Baseball Ground (page 168), the timber backing was also painted green. Only one club ever chose to cover their Leitch balcony as a design statement, and that was Aston Villa, whose curved wooden panelling added a genuine extra dimension (page 144). Alas, in modern times, another, much less welcome development has been for the balconies to be covered by advertisements, as is the case at Fratton Park (page 159).

Leitch’s trademark balcony truss – a feature of all his steel-framed double-decker stands – appeared first at Bradford Park Avenue in 1907. These drawings, however, relate to Goodison’s Bullens Road Stand, built in 1926. Although highly distinctive, the design was

purely functional. The inclined ties work in tension, the vertical struts in compression, while the protruding lateral restraints (marked ‘outrigger’ on the section, right) act as a lateral restraint for the top boom, which formed the handrail for front row spectators. The classic Leitch balcony truss on the Bullens Road Stand (top) still looks out over Goodison Park today, a feature instantly familar to football fans all over the world. Backed by timber boarding, the criss-cross detailing is a perfectly expressed example of riveted steel structural design. Its robust form may follow function, yet, when extended to the full length of a

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grandstand, some 300-350 feet long, it appears both traditional, and modern at the same time. Also shown is a section from the Main Stand at Roker Park (above and page 126), displayed proudly, if somewhat incongruously, in the car park of Sunderland’s Stadium of Light, where its surprising bulk and height, 1.25m tall, can be truly appreciated.

Of the 17 Leitch stands featuring this balcony, four survive: at Fratton Park (above), at Ibrox Park (pages 180ff) and at Goodison Park (page 104ff) where in addition to the Bullens Road Stand there is a refined version at the Gwladys Street End, built in 1938, in which sheet steel replaced the timber backing and inclined stays. Spurs’ East Stand was similar. Engineering Archie 47