Earls Court Exhibition Centre
||It has been suggested that Events at Earls Court Exhibition Centre be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since May 2013.|
Earls Court Exhibition Centre pictured in April 2008
|Location||London, United Kingdom|
|Opened||1 September 1937|
|Owner||Capital & Counties Properties|
|Architect||C. Howard Crane|
Earls Court Exhibition Centre is an exhibition, conference and events venue in London that opened in 1937. It is located within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and is the largest such venue in central London. It is served by two London Underground stations: Earl's Court and West Brompton, opposite its entrances on Warwick Road and Old Brompton Road.
Earls Court and the nearby Olympia are operated by EC&O Venues. Earls Court is widely known as serving as London's premier exhibition hall for many decades, hosting the Ideal Home Show, the Brit Awards up to 2010 and a number of other well-known events and concerts. It was used as one of the venues for both the 1948 and 2012 Olympic Games.
In July 2013, plans to demolish Earls Court were approved in order to make way for a new residential and retail estate, which is expected to be completed in 2033.
Earls Court was largely a waste ground for many years. With the introduction of two stations, it became a mass network of rail on derelict grounds. The idea of introducing entertainment to the area was brought about by John Robinson Whitley, an entrepreneur who used the land as a show ground for many years. Whitley did not profit from his efforts, yet his desire had decided the future of Earls Court and its purpose in later years. In the late 19th century the site had been home to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show and a huge observation wheel. A plaque in the press centre commemorates both of these facts and that Queen Victoria was a frequent visitor to the show.
In 1935 the land was sold and the new owners decided to construct a show centre to rival any other in the world and to dominate the nearby Olympia exhibition hall. The plan was to create Europe's largest structure by volume. The project did not go exactly to plan; it ran over budget and was late in completion. Designed by architect C. Howard Crane with over 40,000 square metres of space over two levels, Earls Court finally opened its doors to the public for the Chocolate and Confectionery Exhibition on 1 September 1937. The Motor Show and Commercial Vehicle show soon followed. In spite of all the problems in the latter part of construction, the project was completed at a cost of £1.5 million.
Following the construction of Earls Court Two, this original building became known as Earls Court One.
Earls Court Two
In response to the drastic need to increase Earls Court's exhibition space, Earls Court Two was constructed at a cost of £100 million. The striking new barrel-roofed hall which links with Earls Court One via folding shutters is large enough to hold four jumbo jets, and the hall's 17,000-square metre floor is entirely column-free. The hall was opened by Princess Diana on 17 October 1991 for the Motorfair.
Earls Court Two is situated on part of the former Lillie Bridge.
A cycle of grand opera began at Earls Court in 1988 with Aida. Earls Court was also the venue for a series of concerts in 1994 during Pink Floyd's "The Division Bell" tour. Queen, Oasis, Muse, the Rolling Stones, Morrissey, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and Madonna also played there. When Madonna performed there in 2001 while on her Drowned World Tour.She sold out her dates in record time – six shows in six hours. Madonna made history with the fastest-selling show ever at Earl's Court, as 97,000 tickets were sold.
The owner of the exhibition centres at Earls Court and Olympia is Capital & Counties Properties PLC, also known as Capco, which opened discussions in 2010 with the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea to demolish the existing centre and redevelop the area with up to 8,000 residential flats, retail outlets and possibly a new convention centre.
The demolition of Earls Court is opposed by the Earls Court Action Group, made up of local residents and interested parties who will be affected by the exhibition centre's destruction and subsequent 20 years of proposed redevelopment. The group has an ongoing petition hosted by 38 Degrees.
Nicky Gavron, a Labour party member of the London Assembly, argues that “losing Earls Court would be a huge setback for the London and UK economy. Earls Court brings in £1bn a year, provides a shop window for UK industries and sustains thousands of long-term jobs in the local area. This economic benefit cannot and will not be replaced by a one-off construction project. There is no evidence London needs less exhibition space. Britain’s competitors are currently expanding their own capacity because they understand the economic benefits these centres create.” Darren Johnson, a Green party member of the London Assembly, wrote to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and argued that “the Earls Court demolition plans are a recipe for a disaster, with massive economic, social and environmental consequences. The winners will be the wealthy developers and overseas property speculators while the losers will be the community, local businesses and Londoners who will lose one of the capital’s key exhibition centres.”
The Guardian's London blogger Dave Hill cited concerns over the number and relative affordability of the housing that will be constructed on the site after the proposed demolition of Earls Court, as well as concerns over the views of local residents.
Despite the opposition, on 3 July 2013 Johnson approved the redevelopment plans. He could have chosen to turn the scheme down or call for a public hearing when he met with his planning team, but gave the go-ahead for the demolition of the centre and construction of the proposed four "villages" and "high street" which could take 20 years to complete.
It is not yet known when the demolition work will commence.
- The Official Report of the Organising Committee for the XIV Olympiad: p. 43
- Carmichael, Sri (22 January 2010). "On the Bill: Earls Court Demolished To Make Way for 8,000 Flats". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- (registration required) Hatcher, David (19 June 2009). "Olympian Effort". Property Week. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- "Earls Court demolition plan approved by Mayor of London". BBC News. 3 July 2013. Retrieved 4 July 2013.
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