Secret London: Wembley

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Little Known Facts about Wembley

Wembley, London
  • At the end of the 19th Century, the Wembley Park Estate was purchased by the Metropolitan Railway to create pleasure grounds. Its chairman, Edward Watkin, planned to build a 1,200 foot steel tower to rival the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Park opened in 1894, but the tower had to be abandoned due to instability after it had reached only 61m (200 feet). It was known as Watkin’s Folly and was left as a tourist attraction in its own right until in 1907 it was dynamited away.

  • The Pleasure Gardens became the site of the British Empire Exhibition in 1924-5, and eventually what is known today as Wembley City.

  • During World War II, 9,000 bombs fell on Wembley.

  • In addition to being the home of English football, the old Wembley Stadium witnessed great events such as the first Papal visit to the UK (Pope John Paul 11), Bob Geldof presenting his Live Aid concert and Nelson Mandela presenting a speech following his release from prison.

  • The most visibly striking feature of the new Wembley Stadium is the 133 metre tall arch that sits above the northern half of the stadium and is visible across London. The arch is lit for major events and special occasions.

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