Arthur Elvin

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Sir Arthur Elvin MBE (born 5 July 1899 Norwich, England[1] - 4 February 1957) left school at the age of fourteen. After a few different jobs joined the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. Elvin was shot down over France and was a prisoner of war for two years. He died at sea whilst on a trip to South Africa.

Wembley Stadium[edit]

In 1924 He was working at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in a cigarette kiosk.[2] The following year he decided to buy his own shops within the grounds, eight for a total of £100. By the end of the Exhibition he had made over £1000 profit from his shops.

At the end of the exhibition a buildings entrepreneur bought the grounds and Elvin became a buildings demolition contractor to clear the site. He bought the derelict buildings one by one and sold off the scrap. Wembley Stadium went into liquidation at the end of the Exhibition after it was pronounced "financially unviable".[3] Elvin offered to buy the stadium for £127,000, using a £12,000 downpayment and the balance plus interest payable over ten years.[1]

After complications following the death of the original owner, Elvin bought Wembley Stadium at the agreed price with the new owners, (Wembley Company) who honoured Elvin's original deal. They then immediately bought it back from Elvin leaving him with a healthy profit. Instead of cash he received shares which gave him the largest stake in Wembley Stadium and he became chairman.[1]

Wembley Arena[edit]

Main article: Wembley Arena

In 1934 Elvin opened the doors to a new indoor multipurpose sports arena alongside the main stadium at Wembley. The Empire Pool and Sports Arena was built for the 1934 British Empire Games. It was later renamed the Wembley Arena

Greyhound racing[edit]

The first sport Elvin introduced to the stadium was greyhound racing. Elvin had noted the popularity and success of greyhound racing at the Bellevue race track in Manchester and recognised the sport as a good business proposition. The opening meeting was in 1927 and 50,000 people attended to watch the first race won by a greyhound named Spin.[4] The dog racing provided the stadium with its main source of regular income, especially in the early days, and continued to attract crowds of several thousand up until the early 1960s.


In 1929 Elvin decided he wanted to operate a speedway team from the stadium. With the help of speedway promoter Johnnie Hoskins, he constructed a speedway track at a cost of £250,000.[2] Elvin announced that the Wembley Lions would enter the new Southern League. The Speedway World Championship was held at Wembley Stadium from 1936 until 1960 and then seven times more afterwards.[1] The ashes for the speedway track were supplied by Richard Biffa Ltd who's operating base at the time was in Wembley Hill Road. Richard Biffa later became Biffa Waste Services.

The stadium saw a crowd of 85,000 for the first World Final in 1936 while the largest crowd was for the 1981 World Final when some 92,500 saw the last final held at the great stadium. For one Lions' league meeting in 1948, against the West Ham Hammers, it witnessed a crowd of 85,000 inside and another 20,000 outside unable to get in.[4]

Ice hockey[edit]

Main articles: Wembley Lions and Wembley Monarchs

The Empire Pool and Sports Arena was housed two teams, the Wembley Canadians (later called the Wembley Monarchs), and the Wembley Lions. In 1990 he was inducted into the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.[5]


Arthur Elvin was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1945 and received his knighthood from King George VI in 1947 for the efforts in staging the 1948 Olympic Games.


  1. ^ a b c d Jacobs, N & Lipscombe, P (2005). Wembley Speedway : The Pre-War Years. Stroud: Tempus Publishing ISBN 0-7524-3750-X
  2. ^ a b Morgan, Tom (1947) The People Speedway Guide, Odhams Press, p. 79
  3. ^ de Lisle, Tim (2006-03-14). "The height of ambition". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  4. ^ a b Harris, Neil (2000-10-06). "Magnificent monument to vision of one man". The Independent. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  5. ^ "Sir Arthur Elvin MBE". Ice Hockey Journalist UK. Retrieved 2008-09-29. [dead link]

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