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Engineering Archie: Archibald Leitch - Football Ground Designer

Engineering Archie: Archibald Leitch - Football Ground Designer (Paperback)

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Professional football provide one of the Victoran era's most mesmerising spectacles, developed at a time when the British public has at its disposal more free time and spare pennies than ever before. But as the bread became more plentiful, it needed someone to build the circuses.

That man was Archibald Leitch.

Born in Glasgow in 1865, Archibald Leitch - a consulting engineer and factory architect by profession - became to football what Frank Matcham was to theatre; in effect, its designer in chief. Millions of spectators sat or stood in Leitch's structures, built for such famous clubs as Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, Aston Villa, Hearts and, not least, Glasgow Rangers, where his stadium career began in 1899, and nearly ended just three years later, when one of his stands gave way, leading to the death of 26 spectators. Leitch witnessed the tragedy and vowed never to let it be repeated.

But while his pedimented gables and criss-cross steelwork balconies formed a recognisable and much-admired style, and his own patented crush barriers were so ubiquitous as to be virtually invisible, until now little has been known of Leitch himself. Moreover, following the modernisation of football grounds as a result of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, only a dozen of his buildings survive.

In this timely and entertaining study of Leitch's life, his works and his legacy, Simon Inglis has unearthed a surprising number of hitherto unseen plans, documents and archive photographs, many of them rich in detail.

Architecture & DesignArchitecturePublic buildings: civic, commercial, industrial, etcBiographyBiography: generalSport & HobbiesSports & outdoor recreationFootball or Soccer incl Association football Publisher: Historic England Publication Date: 15/03/2005 ISBN-13: 9781850749189  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Simon Inglis is Britain's foremost expert on football stadia and is the author of Football Stadiums of Britain (Harper Collins) and Sightlines (Yellow Jersey). He has also written the official history of Aston Villa FC.

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