As we continue our celebration of White Hart Lane and its role in the history of the club we turn our attention to the man who designed the ground.
His work can be found the length of the country as he quite simply designed the format for stadiums that we have known all our footballing lives.
Tottenham contracted Leitch to design a West Stand (or as it was known at first the Grand Stand). This opened (after an amazing fast building project) on the day Spurs played their first ever Division One game at the ground, against Manchester United. A fact echoed by the same side being the last league game before its current redevelopment. The stand met with widespread approval and the clubs and the press comments can be found at (3).
The Stand then the largest in the country and the Weekly Herald acknowledged the fact saying It ‘has many admirable features and it impresses one with its bigness.’ Archie would have an influence across the whole ground. The East side was covered over for most of its length and concrete terracing installed before Leitch then turned his attention to the two ends of the ground.
In 1934 his masterpiece, the East Stand was opened. The two tiers including the Shelf, and the seating above became one of the most iconic in football. It also became one of the most intimidating with the fans in full voice. Descriptions of these are scattered throughout the series.
Leitch lived in North London for many years was often to be seen at White Hart Lane, describing the club as ‘a true footballing outfit.’
Left - His drawings for the New Grand Stand.
Below - The stand in 1932 (V Oldham)
Archibald Kier Leitch had been born in South Glasgow in April 1865. He would become a member of His early work included as a marine engineer and designing factories, some of which are still standing (1).
His first steps into football stadiums came in 1899 when he was commissioned to build Ibrox Stadium for Glasgow Rangers, the team he followed as a lad.
This however ended in disaster when the stand collapsed during the Scotland V England game in 1902. Archie was in the ground that day on what should have been one of the proudest of his life. A story we investigated at (2).
Much of materials used were ruled as not been up to standard. Leitch managed to avoid blame but his whole future was endangered. Rangers had faith in him and continued to use him and Archie took the valuable lessons from that day and used them to become the leading architect in his field. Over the next forty years he was involved in around fifty stadiums, many being the major influence.
In addition to White Hart Lane his work could be seen at famous grounds such as Old Trafford, Anfield, Goodson Park, Highbury, Hillsborough and Villa Park. Away from football he also influenced Twickenham, Cardiff Arms Park and West Ham speedway.
Left - The drawing of the East Stand
It also shows the Red House and White Hart Public House.
At one time it’s thought if you visited the 22 first division clubs during the season at least 16 of them were his handiwork. Not to mention six of the eight grounds used in the 1966 World Cup.
Many of his creations would avoid major alterations until the Taylor report was published following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.
Above right - Walter Alsford, George Greenfield and Micelles, July 1934 in front of East Stand.
He would lead the way in stadium design. Many of the victims at Ibrox received their injuries by falling from the elevated stand. Archie ensured in future his stands were built on earth mounts. He used reinforced cement instead of timber flooring. His designs had the staircases and aisles slightly lower than the standing areas thus discouraging people from standing in the exits.
He introduced the tubular steel barriers to replace the wooden crush barriers that were previously used. In short he invented the format of the stadiums that we have known for our footballing going lives.
When he died in 1939 just short of his 79th birthday his passing went largely unnoticed and there were no obituaries. However for generations of football fans his work has stood as a testament to his life and his love of football. His designs at The Lane and elsewhere have become works of art in themselves and his vision helped create the magic of Tottenham.
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Notes – 1 – I also found a reference to him designing some tea factories in the then Ceylon. Although I couldn’t (to date) find a conformation source. I’d like to believe it as I sit here with the rolling tea fields outside the study window.
2 – Sandy Brown and the Ibrox Disaster.
3 – The clubs description of their new stand can be found at -
And the press opinion - @
See also - The Hotspurs Ground, Percy Park, Champions Park, That Hallowed Turf, Under Fire,
The Shelf, The White Harts Ground, Rowels Park, The High Street Ground, Gilpin Park, The Ring,
The Edmonton End, The Marsh Lane End, The East Side, Hotspur Towers 58, 33, 16 and 5.
Hotspur Towers 50 - The Cockerel, Hotspur 46 - Ground Sharing, The German Game,
Talking Tottenham - At The Lane, White Hot Lane,
Flying Down to Rio
History of T.H.F.C.
Tribute to Bill Nicholson
The Road to Turin
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The 100 Year War
Interview with Marina Sirtis
A Long Dark Shadow
By Royal Appointment
School Report: An Insight into the Younger Eric Dier
All Change At Spurs
History Of THFC: Part 1
Passage to India: Rohan Rickets
Thanks For The Memories
Our Tommy Carroll
The AVB Files: Part1
You The Jury
The Hand Of Hugo
Connection - Argentina
Creating a Reputation
Flying Down To Rio