Historical Projects

Wembley Stadium and the British Empire Exhibition

The acknowledged home of football for more than three quarters of a century, the construction of Wembley Stadium and the British Empire Exhibition showcased Britain as world leaders in concrete construction.

The acknowledged home of football for more than three quarters of a century, the construction of Wembley Stadium took just 12 months. 18 months later, we completed the British Empire Exhibition’s two Palaces, which included the largest reinforced concrete building in the world.

The construction of Wembley Stadium formed part of a wider contract which included the buildings for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924, and both were to become part of the British Empire Exhibition themselves. Both buildings were designed and built entirely of concrete, showcasing British skill and invention. Lamp posts, bridges, and ornamental features within the Exhibition grounds, including the famous Wembley lions statues, were cast in the concrete.

The stadium itself boasted a spectacular entrance, flanked by the once-famous twin concrete towers, at each end by the outside wall of the stadium. The outer wall stretched half a mile and included 37 massive arches. The designer adopted the company’s technique of scoring the surface of the walls, giving the entire stadium the appearance of one being built with masonry blocks.

Wembley Stadium was completed in just 300 days and over 25,000 tonnes of concrete went into its construction along with 600 tonnes of steel reinforcement rods. The Exhibition’s Palaces, which included the largest reinforced concrete building in the world, also built entirely of concrete, steel and glass, and were handed over to the organisers just eighteen months later.

The Stadium and the Exhibition were a vast undertaking, at its peak 12,000 employees and 4,000 subcontractors worked on this unique project which involved the daily delivery of 280 railway truck loads and 300 lorry loads of building materials.

Capable of accommodating 125,000 spectators, Wembley Stadium was completed in time for the famous ‘White Horse’ FA Cup Final of 1923 and in its extraordinary lifetime the stadium hosted events including the 1948 Olympic Games, the 1966 World Cup Final and Live Aid in 1985.

Project Summary

    • Sector: Leisure
    • Location: London
    • Theme: Historical Projects
    • Service: Construction
    • Completion date: 1924

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A Portrait of Achievement

  1. Historical Projects, 1946-1970

    From iron and steelworks to power stations and motorways, we played our part in helping rebuild Britain's industrial strength after the Second World War.

    Read more about Historical Projects, 1946-1970