Lillie Bridge Grounds

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Location of the Lillie Bridge Athletic Ground, adjacent to the railway line close to West Brompton station. (Click to enlarge).
The then newly opened Stamford Bridge can be seen a little to the south ("London Athletics Club"). Detail from Charles Booth's 1889 descriptive map of London.

The Lillie Bridge Grounds was a sports ground in London near to present day Stamford Bridge, opened around 1867. The ground started to fall into disuse after the opening of Stamford Bridge, and after a riot on 18 September 1887 which destroyed the track and grandstand, it finally closed in 1888.[1][2]

Lillie Bridge is these days better known as a London Underground (LUL) maintenance depot, and the Earls Court 2 annexe of the Earls Court Exhibition Centre complex was built over the railway lines.[3] It is also now home to the Empress State Building completed in 1961.

Actually, Charles Booth's map suggested that Lille Bridge Ground was located south of Lille Road and to the East of Seagrave Road, which is latterly a car park for the Earls Court Exhibition Centre and Avis' local more car centre. The site is bound on the south side by Brompton Park Crescent (formerly a hospital) and the District (Wimbledon Branch). Earl's Court and Empress State Building site to the North of Lille Road and adjacent to the LUL maintenance depot.

Sports contested at the venue included athletics, bicycle racing, football and cricket.[4] The ground also hosted hot air balloon festivals and county fairs in the Victorian era.


The ground held the first ever amateur boxing matches in 1867, cups being supplied by the Marquess of Queensberry, which is where the phrase Queensberry Rules comes from.


The Wanderers, after winning the first FA Cup final in 1872, were allowed to defend the cup in the second final of 1873 with choice of venue. Not having a ground of their own, they chose Lillie Bridge and Oxford University were defeated 2–0. The low 3,000 attendance was attributed to the Boat Race occurring later in the same day, so few turned up or in fact stayed for the whole duration of the game.

Results of FA Cup Finals at Lillie Bridge

Year Attendance Winner Runner-up
1873 3,000 Wanderers 2 Oxford University 0


Middlesex County Cricket Club moved to Lillie Bridge in 1869 before leaving in 1872 due to the poor quality of the turf. The club nearly folded at this time, a vote for continuing being won 7–6.


Lillie Bridge was the home of the Amateur Athletic Club which organised the Amateur Championships before they were held under the auspices of the Amateur Athletic Association. The London Athletics Club moved in in 1869 before leaving for Stamford Bridge in 1877.

From 1867 to 1887, the annual athletics varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge Universities were held here before moving to Queen's Club on the ground's closure.

Many world records were set at Lillie Bridge, including for example, 6' 2.5" in the high jump in 1876 by Marshall Brooks in front of a crowd of 12,000.


External links[edit]

Preceded by
The Oval
FA Cup
Final Venue

Succeeded by
The Oval

Coordinates: 51°29′07″N 0°11′39″W / 51.4854°N 0.1943°W / 51.4854; -0.1943