Ground Opened: 1913 (as Highbury Stadium)
Ground Renamed: Arsenal Stadium in 1932
Ground Closed: 2006
Number of years at ground: 93
First Competitive Game Played:
Arsenal 2 Leicester Fosse 1, Division Two, 6th September 1913. Attendance 20,000.
Last Competitive Game Played:
Arsenal 4 Wigan 2, Premier League, 7 May 2006. Attendance 38,359.
Record Attendance: 73,295 v Sunderland Division One, March 9th, 1935.
Floodlights first used: 19th September 1951 for a friendly match against Hapoel Tel Aviv.
Highbury Stadium was also where the first live radio broadcast of a match took place on 22nd January 1927, for a league match against Sheffield United.
Highbury Stadium was also where the first live televised broadcast took place on 16th September 1937, for a practice match between the Arsenal first team and Arsenal reserves.
In 1964 Arsenal became the first ground to have undersoil heating installed.
Club moved to: Emirates Stadium in 2006
Distance from Highbury to new Emirates Stadium: 1/4 of a mile.
The West Stand was opened in December 1932. It replaced a large open terrace that had been previously known as the Spion Kop. The new stand was designed by the acclaimed architect Claude Waterlow Ferrier, who had designed a number of prominent buildings. It was he who incorporated into the West Stand, the Art Deco style of design that was popular at the time. Originally the stand contained 4,100 covered seats, which were located above a large terraced area. In 1969 the stand was made all seated when 5,500 seats were installed onto the paddock terrace.
The only real disappointment of this stand is that its external facade is not viewable from the road side, as it is obscured by housing. However there still remains to this day the unusual entrance to the stand located on Highbury Hill Road (pictured right).
The East Stand was opened in 1936, four years after the opening of the West Stand. By this time the architect of the West Stand, Claude Waterlow Ferrier had passed away, but a partner of the same architects firm, William Binie, continued his work. This resulted in the East Stand sharing a similar design to the West Stand, but unlike the West the facade of the East Stand is visible from the road side, and those excellent Art Deco lines can be fully appreciated. It housed the Director's area, players changing rooms and Club offices. It also contained three tiers, with the two seated areas raised above a lower terraced paddock.
The new East Stand replaced the former Main Stand at Highbury which had been designed by the well known football ground architect of the time Archibald Leitch, who had designed other grounds such as Old Trafford, Roker Park, Ibrox and Stamford Bridge. This former Main Stand was two tiered and contained 9,000 seats making it at the time the largest stand in London. Its most striking feature was its multi-span roof (rather than a single large roof, it was made up of a number of sections with a triangular shaped frontage), which can be seen in parts of the Pathe Film of Highbury below which was taken in 1934.
This end was originally known as the College End, after St John's College which was situated behind it. In fact the football ground was built on what was then the playing fields that belonged to the College. The College was destroyed by fire in 1945 and was subsequently redeveloped for housing. In 1936 the Club installed a 45 minute clock, the first of its kind to be seen at a football ground. at the North End of the ground. Subsequently when a roof was built over the North Bank, the clock was moved to the College End and it became subsequently known as the 'Clock End'.
When segregation of fans began in the 1970's, it was the uncovered Clock End in which they were housed. In 1989 a roof and two rows of executive boxes were installed above and behind the terrace. The terrace was then made all seater in 1993.
The photo above of the uncovered Clock End terrace was taken in 1985 at a local derby game against Spurs.
Originally called the Gillespie Road End, it was an open terrace until a roof was erected over it in 1936. Thanks to the German Luftwaffe it was 'made' an open terrace again during the Second World War due to bombing. A new roof was erected over the terrace in 1954. Now firmly called the 'North Bank,' the terrace was demolished in 1992 and replaced with an all seated stand. The photo below shows the original terrace and was taken in the late 1980's:
Previous to moving to Highbury and the new Arsenal Stadium, the Club at the time, played their matches at the Manor Ground in Plumstead. In fact since their formation in 1886 as Dial Square FC (later renamed Royal Arsenal and then Woolwich Arsenal) the Club had always played their games in South East London. In 1910 the Club acquired a new owner in Sir Henry Norris, who set the Club on a course to move to North London and the Highbury site, in order to attract bigger crowds. It was a move that was controversial at the time and one that still rankles with some Londoners to this day. In 1913 the new Highbury Stadium was opened in North East London and 'Woolwich' was dropped from the Club name which was now simply called 'The Arsenal FC'.
Arsenal London Underground Station is of note as it is the only tube station in London that is named after a football team. Originally called Gillespie Road, it was renamed Arsenal in 1932.
Arsenal Underground Station Entrance
Luckily someone had the foresight to get both the facades of the East and West Stands registered as listed buildings, meaning that they cannot be altered or demolished, without Government approval. This has resulted in both the East and West Stands facades being preserved with apartments having been built directly behind them. Both the more modern ends of the ground have been demolished abd in their place modern apartment blocks have been built, but the area of the pitch still remains and has been made into a communal garden. So you can still wander along Avenell Road and enjoy the splendour of the look of the East Stand and get a view of the pitch area.
East Stand Facade
East Stand Apartments
Communal Gardens On Site Of Pitch With West Stand Behind On The Left (North Apartments On Right)
If you possess photos of the old Arsenal Stadium, which you would be happy to share with others via this website, or if you have any general feedback about this page, then please e-mail me at: [email protected].
Special thanks to Owen Pavey for his photos of Highbury that were taken in 1998. Plus Han van Eijden and Keith Last for their contributions.
The archive footage of games played at Highbury in 1934 and 1951 were produced by British Pathe News and are made publicly available via YouTube.