Earls Court Exhibition Centre

Exhibition Centre in/near Earl's Court, existed between 1937 and 2015

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Exhibition Centre · Earl's Court · SW5 ·
November
18
2016

Earls Court Exhibition Centre is an exhibition, conference and events venue in London that opened in 1937.

Earls Court Exhibition Centre (2008)
Credit: Fernando Pascullo
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 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 hosted events at the 1948 Olympic Games and the volleyball events of the 2012 Olympic Games.

The final owner of the exhibition centres at Earls Court and Olympia, Capco, 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 8000 residential flats, retail outlets and possibly a new convention centre.

The redevelopment 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.

Despite the opposition, London Mayor Boris Johnson approved the redevelopment plans in July 2013.

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Earls Court Exhibition Centre (2008)
Fernando Pascullo

Citations and sources

Gillian Bebbington's 1972 work on street name derivations

Links and further reading

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VIEW THE EARL'S COURT AREA IN THE 1750s
The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1750 map does not display.

VIEW THE EARL'S COURT AREA IN THE 1800s
The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1800 map does not display.

VIEW THE EARL'S COURT AREA IN THE 1830s
The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1830 map does not display.

VIEW THE EARL'S COURT AREA IN THE 1860s
The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1860 map does not display.

VIEW THE EARL'S COURT AREA IN THE 1900s
The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.

 

Earl's Court

Earls Court is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Earls Court was once a rural area, covered with green fields and market gardens. For over 500 years the land, part of the ancient manor of Kensington, was under the lordship of the Vere family, the Earls of Oxford and descendants of Aubrey de Vere, who held the manor of Geoffrey de Montbray, bishop of Coutances, in Domesday Book in 1086. The earls held their manorial court where Old Manor Yard is now, just by the London Underground station.

The construction of the Metropolitan District Railway (MDR) station in 1865–69 was a catalyst for development. On 12 April 1869, the MDR (now the District Line) opened tracks through Earl’s Court as part of a south-westward extension from its station at Gloucester Road to West Brompton where the MDR opened an interchange with the West London Extension Joint Railway. In the quarter century afterwards, Earls Court was transformed into a densely populated suburb with 1200 houses and two churches. Eardley Crescent and Kempsford Gardens were built between 1867 and 1873, building began in Earls Court Square and Longridge Road in 1873, in Nevern Place in 1874, in Trebovir Road and Philbeach Gardens in 1876, and Nevern Square in 1880.

Following WWII a number of Polish immigrants settled in the Earls Court area leading to Earls Court Road being dubbed ’The Danzig Corridor’. During the late 1960s a large transient population of Australia and New Zealand travellers began to use Earls Court as a UK hub and over time it gained the name ’Kangaroo Valley’. It was at the time one of the cheapest areas close to central London, and up until the 1990s remained a somewhat down-at-heel district compared to its more upmarket neighbours to the North and East.

Today, while there are still significant numbers of students or other people on temporary visas, many of the Australians and New Zealanders appear to have moved on to now-cheaper areas further North and West.

The change in the area’s population is largely owed to rocketing property prices during the first decade of the 2000s and the continued gentrification of the area. The scale of change is illustrated by the economic divide between the eastern and western areas of Earls Court.
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