Franco-British Exhibition

Image dated 1908

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Franco-British Exhibition

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Photo/Image · White City · W12 ·
APRIL
19
2015

In 1908, the Franco-British Exhibition was constructed over a 140-acre site at White City in London.

The ’flip-flap’ and the Elite Garden can be seen here with a bandstand in the foreground.


Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence


Franco-British Exhibition

Franco-British Exhibition
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White City

White City was the place which defined the modern Marathon.

The area now called White City was level arable farmfields until 1908, when it was used as the site of the Franco-British Exhibition and the 1908 Summer Olympics. In 1909 the exhibition site hosted the Imperial International Exhibition and in 1910, the Japan-British Exhibition. The final two exhibitions to be held there were the Latin-British (1912) and the Anglo-American (1914), which was brought to a premature end by the outbreak of the First World War.

During this period it was known as the Great White City due to the white marble cladding used on the exhibition pavilions, and hence gave its name to this part of Shepherd's Bush.

The White City Stadium was demolished in 1985 to make way for the BBC White City building. Today, the 1908 Olympics are commemorated with a list of athletes inscribed on the side of the BBC Broadcast Centre Building, and the athletics finish line is marked in the paving outside the building.

The Marathon from these London Olympics played an important part in the development of the modern marathon race. In the early years of competitive international sport, the long distance marathon race did not have a standard set distance. The distance run at the first seven Olympics from 1896 to 1920 varied between 40km and 42.75 km. The starting point of the race at the 1908 Olympics was at Windsor Castle creating a distance of 26 miles 385 yards to the finishing line at White City stadium. In 1921 this was adopted as the standard distance.

To house the growing population of Shepherd's Bush, a five-storey housing estate was built in the late 1930s, which also took the name of the White City. Streets were named after countries that had featured in the exhibitions.

White City tune station was opened on 23 November 1947, replacing the earlier Wood Lane station. Its construction started after 1938 and had been scheduled for completion by 1940, but the Second World War delayed its opening for another seven years.

The architectural design of the station won an award at the Festival of Britain and a commemorative plaque recording this is attached to the building to the left of the main entrance.
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