In 1947 Club Director G. Wagstaffe Simmons wrote his history of Spurs. In it he referred to the club as a whole ‘In the future may its star of destiny shine with even more effulgence than its enviable past.’ I think he would approve of my use of that statement not just as Spurs set out on a new season but as the White Hart Lane he knew gives way to the newer structure that will carry his club into the 21st century as we continue our celebration of our famous home. In previous articles we examined how the club came to reside at The Lane and how they set about converting it ready for football. This time around we look at some of the developments that saw the ground evolve towards the home we know and some images from across the years.
As Tottenham set out on a successful period on the pitch they were also very busy off it as they started to develop the ground. Tottenham were very busy over the next five years off the pitch developing the ground.
‘The Romance of Football’(1) includes some quotes from the former Chairman Charles Roberts which talk about those early days in our new home. “Tons of concrete had to be blown up in making the ground. John Over supervising the work had the time of his life superintending this work. Little did we think it would make the best pitch in England.”
Left - Millwall at The Lane in 1904. You can see part of the East side is covered.
That period saw the capacity at the ground raise to 32,000. The three stands along the west side were merged into one and corrugated sheeting covering 5,000 along part of the east. A temporary stand was also erected at the Park Lane end while the corners of the ground saw the earth banks increased. The end of the 1903-04 season saw the pitch ‘re-drained and re-turfed’(1).
Right - Chelsea 1910. This is the game we won 2-1 to stay up and send them down to Division 2.
The club was aware that the ground needed further development as the club handbook for 1904/05 explained ‘the benefit the club was likely to derive from the new electric tramway system that had been started and that the ground capacity had been increased by 10,000.’ The club’s lease however strictly controlled developments. The club announced a share scheme to raise the £8,900 to acquire the freehold and another £2,600 for some addition land at the Edmonton End. The next stage saw the banking increased at the Paxton / Edmonton End his mirrored the Park Lane opposite and the grounds capacity reached 40,000.
Returning to Roberts in 1921 “Adjoining land at both ends had to be acquired from other owners. For economy, wooden stands were erected. The upkeep however was alarming. On the eve of one important cup tie we were served with notice of certain defects in the treads, hundreds were marked. But friend John (2) was not beaten. Gangs were employed and after long hours all were replaced before the match with just time to notify the authorities that same was completed.”
Left - The South End, In a game with Clapton Orient in Feb. 1912.
Right - More up to date the old Board Room.
The book then reveals ‘About this time the Spurs Players Social Club (which stood at the junction of White Hart Lane and the High Road) was opened. Directors Roberts and Deacock were prime movers in this.’
They were even some references in various reports during this period which referred to the ground as the Hotspurs ground, the High Street ground and even the White Hart ground after the public house that stood on the High Road and acted as a marker to the entrance. We know some people referred to the ground as the High Street ground purely as a geographic reference but it never caught on. For more on when White Hart Lane became the ‘commonly used’ name for the ground see Gilpin Park.
And to see how the East side has changed over the years this is from 1982.
The next part of this celebration of The Lane we discover when international football first graced our arena.
Previous articles include – 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,
Talking Tottenham - At The Lane, White Hot Lane,
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Notes - 1 – ‘The Romance of Football’ published in 1921 by the Weekly Herald.
2 – John Over
3 – Bob Goodwin’s complete record.
Thanks to ‘Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, its birth and progress 1882-1946’ by G. Wagstaffe Simmons. As well as Tony Mathews, Phil Soar, Andy Porter and THFC.
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