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Earls Court exhibition centre, London, April 2015

Maniac

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After hearing this was closing at the end of last year, it went straight on my list and then promptly got forgotten about until I suddenly remembered about it when chatting with The_raw and others a few weeks back. So we set a date and went and had a look round. Probably shouldn't have left it so long really, demolition is well underway although they are only nibbling at bits of the structure at the moment and the roof has been removed from some of it.

Unfortunately I didn't get to see any of the cool bits in the basement areas of Earls Court one, as the_raw and others covered those on the second night when I was otherwise engaged which was a shame as they look to be the most interesting bits. None the less it was pretty cool to have a look round the place. I have seen several bands here over the years so it brought back a few memories of those gigs as well as the time I went to the motorshow with by best friend when I was about 13 (21 years ago now!)

Earls Court for those that don't know was the premier exhibition space in London for decades and hosted many prestigious events such as the royal tournament, the London motor show, the London boat show and many concerts and other events. It consists of two parts, Earls Court one which was built in its current form in 1937 and Earls Court two which was opened in 1991 (much later than I thought!) the two spaces were linked and could be used as one space or as separate spaces as required. The building for Earls Court one has a very distinctive art deco styling which I personally love and I will be quite sad to see this place go. I do understand why they've chosen to redevelop it as if you look around the place it is very antiquated when you compare it to modern exhibition centres and venues such as the Excel centre, but still it is a shame.

One unique feature of Earls Court one was the concealed pool in the middle of it which was formed by lowering part of the floor in the middle of the space and then flooding it. The floor is supported on a combination of hydraulic jacks with lock-in rigid supports, enabling it to be used in its 'up position' for 'heavyweight' events such as the Royal Tournament, then lowered and flooded to give a 60 m long and 30 m wide pool between 2.5 m and 3 m deep (depending on usage). The 750-ton concrete exhibition floor can be removed and reinstated at the push of a button. When used it takes four days to fill and four days to empty and 2 1/4 million gallons of water are needed to fill it!

Visited with The_Raw, JohnnyP, Ojay and then joined later by Sentinel

Anyway, on with some photos :)

Earls Court One









They are evidently preparing to put a tower crane in the middle of it, they've knocked a bloody big hole through the building.





The base of the crane to go in was sitting next door in Earls Court 2.



We managed to get onto the roof. It wasn't great as rooftops go, but was a nice mooch.

View down the side of the building



Various bits of plant were on the rooftop - they made buildings properly in those days, put this on the roof of a modern building and it'd end up on the ground floor!



This was right at the very top of the place, these flaps opened to allow heat out of the building I think.



Found the water tanks and plumbing for the sprinklers including some lovely old guages.



Roof space which was a maze of gantries.



I had a good mooch round the roof space, pretty sad but years ago I always used to look up and wonder how they strung up all the wires for things they hung from the roof for exhibitions etc. Well now I know. There were also various hefty power supplies for music events etc. concealed up here. This was possibly my favorite part of the explore even if some of of the walkways were very sketchy indeed.

Then onto Earls Court two. This building is comparatively bland, but it was still quite nice to just walk round for a bit.





Plant hidden behind the walls at the side



Walkways either side of the hall



Structure



Cheeky shot on the roof in front of the sign



And then there was this. I just snapped this photo randomly of one of the signs and didn't think anything of it, then when I got home just out of interest I delved into my ticket collection to find the tickets for the earls court gigs I'd been to and well . . . .





So that's it, Earls court.

Thanks for Looking,

Maniac.

 
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The_Raw

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Liking these Mike, a few bits here that make me want to go back again! Still think there's a lot more to be uncovered in there :)

 

hamtagger

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Pretty damn good that mate, love that old gauge :)

And what a coincidence with that ticket!

 

The_Raw

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According to Wikipedia "In 2013 controversial plans to demolish Earls Court were approved in order to make way for a new residential and retail estate on the site, which is expected to be completed in 2033. Demolition work began on the site in December 2014."

 

skeleton key

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I remember reading somewhere that The 02 had started being a more popular venue and had started hosting alot of the events that previously had been held at Earls court so the owners turned to the developer in the end.

Had some good times at Earls and does seam strange seeing it like this.

Great stuff there Mike and funnily enough also saw the Chilli Peppers here in July 2006 but I think was on the Friday just before.

Cool share and nice work guys (y)

 
OP
Maniac

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I remember reading somewhere that The 02 had started being a more popular venue and had started hosting alot of the events that previously had been held at Earls court so the owners turned to the developer in the end.
I don't think that's entirely true, it won 'venue of the year' only 2 years ago and was still highly regarded by quite a few as a premier exhibition space because of it's accessibility. OK so some of the larger exhibitions have migrated to the Excel centre and larger gigs have gone to the O2, but it was still a useful size and was still highly regarded at least by some as a premier exhibition centre. I think they only opted to develop it for the ££££'s unfortunately.

 
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