Wembley Conference Centre

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Wembley Conference Centre
Location Wembley Park, Wembley, London, England
Coordinates 51°33′26″N 0°17′05″W / 51.5572°N 0.2847°W / 51.5572; -0.2847Coordinates: 51°33′26″N 0°17′05″W / 51.5572°N 0.2847°W / 51.5572; -0.2847
Capacity 2,500
Construction
Broke ground May 1973
Opened 31 January 1977
Closed 2006
Demolished September 2006
Architect R. Seifert and Partners
Tenants
Benson & Hedges Masters (1979–2006)

Wembley Conference Centre was a conference centre in Wembley Park, Wembley, London, England.

History[edit]

In the later 1970s, modern multi-purpose halls began opening in British towns and cities. The first was Wembley Conference Centre on Empire Way in Wembley Park, designed for the British Electric Traction Company by R. Seifert and Partners. Construction began in May 1973 and it was officially opened by the Duke of Kent on 31 January 1977. Its main auditorium (called the Grand Hall) could seat 2,500 people.[1][2][3][4][5]

The Conference Centre was part of a larger development. Next to it were the 722m² Greenwich Rooms and Elvin House, a futuristic triangular office block,[6] as well as the Wembley Exhibition Centre. Like the Conference Centre, the Exhibition Centre was part of a national trend for such venues.[7]

The addition of the Conference Centre and exhibition hall to the list of visitor attractions at Wembley Park led to Wembley Hill station being renamed Wembley Complex in May 1978.[8] It would retain this name until May 1987, when it was again renamed, this time as Wembley Stadium.

In preparation for a major redevelopment of both Wembley Stadium and the area immediately surrounding it, the conference centre building was demolished in September 2006.[9]

Events[edit]

An early event was the January 1977 Model Engineer Exhibition, which had previously been held at the Seymour Hall in Marylebone.[10] On 7 May 1977 the Centre was the venue for the Eurovision Song Contest, where the United Kingdom came second.[11] On 18 October 1977 it hosted the first ever Brit Awards ceremony (then called the 1977 BPI Awards).[12]

The Centre was used for numerous conferences, trade events, exhibitions, corporate hospitality, annual general meetings, university graduation ceremonies, banquets, indoor sport and popular music. However, a classical music concert by the National Youth Orchestra suggested the Centre’s acoustics were at best mediocre, in addition to which it was hard for classical music to attract large enough audiences to fill the Grand Hall.[1]

In terms of sport, the Conference Centre is perhaps best remembered as being the venue for the Benson & Hedges Masters snooker tournament from 1979 to 2006. Other sports held there included boxing, wrestling, body building and darts.[13]

On 30 August 1995, the Centre hosted the first ever National Television Awards presented by Eamonn Holmes.[citation needed]

On 7 November 1999, it hosted the darts match between the reigning PDC World Champion Phil Taylor and the reigning BDO World Champion Raymond van Barneveld, with a 60-minute clock ticking down to zero and with a short break around the half-way stage. The match was broadcast on ITV. Taylor won the match 21–10 in legs.

It hosted three Ricky Hatton boxing matches where he was victorious. 21 October 2000, he defeated fellow Briton Jon Thaxton by unanimous decision, In 26 March 2001, he defeated Canadian Tony Pep with a fourth round TKO two and a half minutes in and on 15 December 2001, he defeated Australian Justin Rowsell with a second round TKO with thirty six seconds to go.

During Live Aid (13 July 1985) the Conference Centre and exhibition halls were used to provide dressing rooms for the performers.[14]

Between 10 July 2004 and 22 April 2006, it hosted ten Cage Rage mixed martial arts events.

Cage Rage event Date
Cage Rage 7 July 10, 2004
Cage Rage 8 September 11, 2004
Cage Rage 9 November 27, 2004
Cage Rage 10 February 26, 2005
Cage Rage 11 April 30, 2005
Cage Rage 12 July 2, 2005
Cage Rage 13 September 10, 2005
Cage Rage 14 December 3, 2005
Cage Rage 15 February 4, 2006
Cage Rage 16 April 22, 2006

In popular culture[edit]

In 1979 the Conference Centre was considered sufficiently futuristic to stand in for a conference centre on the colonised planet Atlay in the BBC science fiction series Blake’s 7, in an episode called ‘Voice from the Past'.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Barron, Michael (2010). Auditorium Acoustics and Architectural Design. Spon Press. pp. 410–16. ISBN 0419245103. 
  2. ^ Bass, Howard (1982). Glorious Wembley. Guinness Superlatives. pp. 156–60. 
  3. ^ "The New Conference Centre · story · British Universities Film & Video Council". bufvc.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-06-28. 
  4. ^ Knight & Sabey, Donald R. & Alan (1984). The Lion Roars at Wembley. Donald R. Knight. p. 153. 
  5. ^ Hewlett, Geoffrey (1979). A History of Wembley. Brent Library Service. p. 223. 
  6. ^ 2012, Optix Solutions Ltd. "Wembley Conference Centre, Elvin House & Exhibition Halls -  » John F Hunt". www.johnfhunt.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-06-28. 
  7. ^ Bowdin, Allen, Harris, McDonnell, O'Toole, Glenn, Johnny, Rob, Ian, William (2001). Events Management. Heinemann. p. 8. ISBN 0750647965. 
  8. ^ "Notes+News: Wembley Complex renaming". Railway Magazine. June 1978. 
  9. ^ http://www.quintain.co.uk/~/media/Files/Q/Quintain/2013-full-year-results/archive/nov-06-a.pdf
  10. ^ "MEX axed". www.modelengineeringwebsite.com. Retrieved 2016-06-28. 
  11. ^ "Eurovision Song Contest 1977 | Eurovision Song Contest". Eurovision.tv. Retrieved 2016-06-28. 
  12. ^ "History". BRIT Awards. Retrieved 2016-06-28. 
  13. ^ Kinght & Sabey, Donald R. & Alan (1984). The Lion Roars at Wembley. Donald R. Knight. p. 154. 
  14. ^ Wembley Arena 1934-2004 The First Seventy Years (Wembley Arena, 2004) p. 24
  15. ^ "Blake's 7 - Filming Locations". www.hermit.org. Retrieved 2016-06-28. 

External links[edit]