Wembley Stadium architectural salvage to be auctioned by the Brooking Trust
Charles Brooking's Architectural Museum Trust is to sell nine lots of architectural salvage from Max Ayrton's 1923 Wembley Stadium at a sporting memorabilia auction organised by Graham Budd on 8 November at Sotheby's in London.
The biggest lot at 10m by 5m is the Royal Tunnel Gates by Samuel Elliott & Sons Ltd of Reading, estimated at £5,000-10,000, while one of the round windows from the iconic Twin Towers, also by Samuel Elliott & Sons Ltd is estimated at £3,000-5,000. Also included are several pieces from the Royal Retiring Room such as doors, windows and wall panels plus a fanlight from the Long Bar and a balustrade and lights that were situated by the Royal Box.
Charles Brooking acquired the gates and other items from the original Wembley Stadium prior to its demolition. A spokesman from the Brooking Trust said: "Regrettably it is the size and weight which negates their retention in the collection. It is with sadness that they and the other pieces are being released; we have held them for the last eleven years hoping to find a way of displaying them, but without success."
Graham Budd, said: "I am delighted to be selling the gates from the most famous sporting venue in the UK, if not the world. This is not the first time that I have been asked to sell such wonderful architectural objects. I sold the Ascot Racecourse entranceway to the winner's enclosure in 2005 for £280,000. Unfortunately as these items are so large, they will not be on view at Sotheby's during the auction viewing."
Wembley stadium was opened on 28 April 1923, built as part of the British Empire Exhibition by Sir Robert McAlpine. The stadium cost £750,000, designed by architects Sir John Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton. Originally it was intended to demolish the stadium at the end of the Exhibition, but it was saved when Arthur Elvin started buying the derelict buildings one by one, demolishing them, and selling off the scrap. The stadium had gone into liquidation, after it was pronounced "financially unviable". Elvin offered to buy the stadium for £127,000, using a £12,000 downpayment and the balance plus interest payable over ten years. The Wembley Company then bought it back from Elvin, leaving him with a healthy profit. Instead of cash he received shares, which gave him the largest stake in Wembley Stadium and he became chairman. The stadium closed in October 2000, and was demolished in 2003 for redevelopment. The top of one of the twin towers was erected as a memorial in the park on the north side of Overton Close in the Saint Raphael's Estate.
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