I recently teamed up with football author Paul Smith regarding a project I had been considering for some time. My aim was to create a series of posters focussing on English football stadiums that are no longer with us.
Paul kindly agreed to let me use some of the source materials / maps he and his wife had collected over the years during his own research. I will keep adding additional clubs to the project dependent on demand, so please drop me line or use the comments section below if you would like your own club included
Forgotten Fortress #1 – Maine Road
I decided to choose Maine Road as my starting point, for no other reason than i found it aesthetically pleasing.
However, I soon became involved in a conversation with MCFC historian Gary James (author of Manchester – The City Years) and was pleasantly surprised to hear that I had struck gold with the layout I had chosen (full transcript below).
Gary also unearthed a wonderful quote from City legend Bert Trautmann shown in the bottom left corner of the print which reads – “It’s Where I Belong, It’s Where I Grew Up”
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Transcript (Gary James)
That’s a very important layout of Maine Rd. It is accurate for 1934 & shows the corner Platt Lane roof on plan. In 1935 the rest of Platt Lane was roofed, so the ground was only like that between 1931-35. This is exactly as it was when 84,569 attended Citys record crowd game in March 1934. You’ve picked the right plan/year.
When I researched and wrote Farewell To Maine Road (Pubd 2003) I spent quite some time trying to piece together the various ground developments. Prior to that book most articles, books, MCFC official histories etc. claimed that the old Platt Lane Stand was built at some point ‘before the second world war’.
Using photos and then plans from Manchester Town Hall, I uncovered that the main developments in the first 20 years were:
1923 – Main Stand built and roofed (as photo posted)
1931 – Platt Lane / Main Stand corner re-profiled to have a higher rake, seating installed on part of the new profiled steps, a higher tunnel wall (anyone who remembers Platt Lane will remember that the corner tunnel and corner terracing were different to the rest of the ground/stand), a new roof, and a ladies toilet (quite a big deal in 1931). Capacity must have been approx 85,000
1935 – The rest of the Platt Lane Stand was built by extending out the back on wooden frame and then roofing rest of stand. Capacity was increased to about 88,000.
The plan was then to roof the Main Stand/Scoreboard (North) Stand corner in 1939, roof the North Stand c. 1944 and then tackle the Kippax c.1950 (by enlarging it – aim was for Maine Road to hold over 100,000!).
Those plans never happened because of WW2 and when peace resumed chance of improving Maine Road disappeared until the Kippax was extended (slightly) and roofed in 1957.
Capacity had reduced by that point because of legislation following Bolton disaster (another forgotten disaster sadly – so much has been made of football not learning from Hillsborough but football also didn’t learn from Burnden Park disaster or Ibrox….).