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Earls Court Exhibition Centre is a closed exhibition, conference and events venue in London that originally opened in 1887 and was rebuilt in 1937 in its most recent art deco style exterior. It is located in Earls Court within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and was the largest such venue within central London. The founder was John R. Whitley and the first exhibition included performances by Buffalo Bill Cody as part of the 'American Exhibition'. This was followed by 'Four National Exhibitions', the title of C. Lowe's 1892 book about Earls Court and its founder. Earls Court is widely known for serving as London's premier exhibition hall for many decades, hosting the Royal Tournament and Motor Show, Ideal Home Show, the Brit Awards (until 2010) and a number of other notable events and concerts. It was also used as one of the venues for both the 1948 and 2012 Olympic Games. It was served by two London Underground stations: Earl's Court and West Brompton, opposite the entrances on Warwick Road and Old Brompton Rd respectively. 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. With so many landmark sites in London it's simply a case of waiting for the next one to reach the end of it's life cycle. Earls Court exhibition centre's fate has been doomed for a while now, the hoarding went up last year and we'd nearly forgotten all about it until Maniac mentioned it in a conversation recently. Probably just big empty rooms with nothing in them we said to each other, but then as the conversation continued we started to wonder actually what might be lurking underneath the place and whether or not we might be able to access the roof. We made it a priority and got ourselves down there pronto with ojay and sirjonnyp. It's an absolute beast of a site (check out the aerial view later) and we weren't wrong in thinking there might be more to it. It took two long visits to get around the majority of it and I'm sure we still missed some bits. The main arena was like a scene from the apocalypse, rain falling from above and twisted metal railings strewn across the place. The labyrinth of service tunnels were hiding some epic plant and boiler rooms amongst other things. The roof contained the most gigantic gantry I've ever seen which enabled you to climb to the very top of the structure, happy days! A really satisfying explore this one and perhaps a last glimpse of one of London's most famous venues before it disappears off the planet. 1. Epic external shot found on google images, standard. 2. Entrance Hall 3. Main arena 4. 5. 6. Restaurant posters 7. 8. Some machines and bits around the perimeter of the arena 9. 10. 11. Service tunnels underneath 12. 13. Some old photos presumably taken here 14. Restaurant kitchen 15. There were 7 of these huge boiler tanks (I'm guessing that's what they are....), you can just about see through the door how long they are 16. 17. Plant room 18. Found this little control panel in there 19. The Roof 20. 21. Up on the gantry, I used incandescent white balance on this shot 22. 23. 24. The last climb to the top 25. Sketchy hand held shot looking down with the arena visible below 26. Taking a break at the very top of the roof inside one of the little black areas seen on the photo below 27.
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.