Where, and what, was White City Stadium?

Not many stadia have songs written to commemorate their demolition but, in August, 1989, Anglo-Irish Celtic punk band The Pogues released the single ‘White City’, in which they lamented,’Oh, sweet city of my dreams, of speed and skill and schemes. Like Atlantis you just disappeared from view.’ Speed, skill and schemes, of course, refers to the use of White City Stadium for greyhound racing, which it was between June 20, 1927 and September 22, 1984, shortly before demolition work began.

Officially opened by King Edward VII on April 27, 1908, White City Stadium, or the Great Stadium, as it was originally known, was situated in the north-western part of Shepherd’s Bush, in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The White City, or Great White City, from which the district takes its name was a 200-acre complex of exhibition buildings constructed, uniformly white, according to the creative vision of Hungarian √©migr√©, Imre Kiralfy, for the

Franco-British Exhibition in 1908. The 150,000-capacity White City Stadium was only added as an afterthought, once London, rather than Rome, was confirmed as the host city for the 1908 Summer Olympics.

White City Stadium continued to be used for athletics until the start of World War I and, again, from 1931 onwards, following the installation of a 440-yard running track. However, the stadium was purchased by the Greyhound Racing Association (GRA) in 1927 and thereafter became the pre-eminent venue for greyhound racing in the country, hosting the English Greyhound Derby every year until its closure. Demolition work was completed in 1985 to make way for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) White City building, but original plans for the building to replace Broadcasting House as the home of BBC Radio were scrapped, the Corporation vacated the premises in 2013 and sold them to property developers.

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