May 14th 2022
It's not just houses that are made from bricks. There are many impressive structures out there that use the building material, even football stadiums.
In our Brick Buildings We Love series we've covered everything from old dock buildings to offices and academic buildings. Often brick is used because of its functionality but great architects have also seen its aesthetic potential.
Of course, most modern stadiums are not made from brick but metal. Most are not celebrated for aesthetic beauty but there are some stadiums that have brick as a central component, and they are impressive specimens.
In this post we look at a few of them. After all, here at Brickhunter we love our footy.
Believe it or not, many of the most popular, well-known teams in the UK had stadiums designed by the same man. Archibald Leitch is a name written in the history books of British football.
Between 1899 and his death in 1939 he designed part of or all of more than 20 stadiums in the UK and Ireland. He was a Scottish architect who had designed factories before his work building Ibrox Park, the stadium of hometown heroes Glasgow Rangers. We've mentioned him before in our post on the brick tunnel at Old Trafford.
Other stadiums he had a hand in included Celtic Park, Goodison Park, Hillsborough Stadium, Stamford Bridge and more. Some have been significantly altered or removed completely, with teams often uprooting and moving to a new ground, when the old one is no longer fit for purpose.
Although his designs were mainly considered functional, rather than elegant, and involved the use of integral metal structures, they have grown in popularity over time. The use of brickwork to provide unique features is of note. We look at some of the best examples below.
The Ibrox stadium is home to Rangers Football Club, one of Glasgow's two historic football teams. It's the third largest stadium in Scotland with a capacity of almost 51,000 and is found on the south side of the river Clyde.
It's been the home of Rangers since 1899 and the tall brick walls of its imposing main stand is a source of admiration. With its grand windows and red brick masonry towering above the street below it echoes the iconic and immovable status of this beloved football club.
Simon Inglis, a writer on stadia, said in 2005 that the Main Stand is Leitch's "greatest work" and is "still resplendent today in its red brick glory under a modern mantle of glass and steel".
Since September 2006 it's been called the Bill Struth main stand and in 1987 it became a listed building.
We also know a bit about the bricks themselves (information that's hard to come by with the others). We can tell you that it was constructed with 1,018,000 red Ruabon bricks which came from the Dennis Ruabon factory in Wrexham, Wales.
Another one of Leitch's crowning achievements was the regal Villa Park, home of Birmingham side Aston Villa since 1897. They certainly don't make them like this anymore. The stunning stately home-like brick façade on the south facing Holte End stand is well kept and the steps and arches leading up to some of the turnstiles are an impressive feature. The tall red brick walls evoke St Pancras station, another brick building we love.
It's not the only part of the stadium that looked like that. The Trinity Road Stand looked much like this but was demolished in 2000 to make way for modernisation. This was certainly unpopular as the architecture was considered some of Leitch's best. Fortunately, remnants of these features remain on the Holte End.
The stadium has held many historic matches over the years and hosts premier league matches once again, after a stint in the championship for Aston Villa.
The famous Anfield stadium was built in 1884 although it was originally used by local rivals Everton. Newly founded Liverpool moved in in 1892 and the rest is history.
Construction of the main stand began under Leitch in 1895 and the world famous Spion Kop was built a decade later. This historic ground has become almost as famous as the club which plays its home matches there. As well as hosting many famous nights for Liverpool Football Club it also hosted matches at the Euro 1996 tournament.
But it's not just Leitch's original brickwork that we find interesting, it's the bricks used in recent redevelopments.
After plans to relocate to a new stadium fell through in the 2010's, Liverpool decided to renovate the existing stadium, completing a reconstruction of the main stand in 2016 and following it up with the currently underway reconstruction of the Anfield Road Stand. Together these redevelopments will take the overall capacity to over 61,000.
The completed work on the main stand also provides the stadium with an impressive new frontage, which orange brick plays a significant part in. This brickwork is an example of how it can be used in modern settings to create an aesthetically pleasing and functional structure that will stand the test of time.
The final stadium we're going to look at is the home of the oldest professional club in London, Fulham FC.
Situated in leafy Fulham, Craven Cottage is probably one of the more picturesque stadiums in the UK and this Thameside stadium is another Leitch masterpiece.
The main source of brick fascination is the façade of the Johnny Haynes stand which runs along the road parallel to the Thames and provides the main entrance for fans. Although just a façade it is delightful and incredibly well maintained. Painted turnstile numbers and lintels compliment the brickwork and elegant details.
And what of the name? Well funnily enough there was and still is a cottage on the grounds. The original Craven Cottage, built by a man named John Craven, was originally in rural surrounds but now sits in the corner of the stadium looking in on the pitch. It's still used on matchdays for changing rooms and contains offices for the club.
So, there you go, some of your favourite grounds and maybe even the football stadium of your own team has bricks at the heart of it. Sure, many modern stadiums are impressive, but these old stadiums are a piece of history and it's great to see them still going, even after so many have gone.
Next time you head to one of these hallowed grounds of football, be sure to appreciate the effort that has gone into these brick structures.
And if this has inspired you to do something brick related, be sure to get in touch with us and we'll sort your bricks out.