Grandstand at Summers Lane sports ground


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Grandstand at Summers Lane sports ground, south side of Summers Lane, London Borough of Barnet


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Grandstand at Summers Lane sports ground, south side of Summers Lane, London Borough of Barnet
Greater London Authority
Barnet (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Grandstand built in 1930 for Finchley Urban District Council, possibly to the design of the district engineer, Percival T Harrison. Some later alterations. The adjoining single-storey club house to the south is not of special interest and is excluded from the listing.

Reasons for Designation

The grandstand at Summers Lane sports ground, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: for its back-to-back arrangement allowing stands facing two sports pitches, virtually unique in Britain; * Historic interest: as the first example nationally of a grandstand with a reinforced concrete cantilever roof; * Materials: for its innovative use of reinforced concrete; * Historic association: the involvement in the design of Sir Owen Williams, the engineer on the original Wembley Stadium and designer of such iconic buildings as the Boots D10 headquarters building, Nottingham.


In 1928 Finchley Urban District Council purchased 100 acres of glebe land on the south side of Summers Lane from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners with the intention of creating a municipal complex. This was to include a sports ground (opened 1930), a lido with two open-air pools (opened in two stages between 1931 and 1934, and closed in 1993) and a town hall complex which was never built.

The plans for the sports ground were prepared by the District Engineer, Percival T Harrison, who also designed the lido. It is unclear whether Harrison actually designed the grandstand as the design of the lido was far less ambitious than the cantilevered grandstand. The grandstand was intended to be double-sided, serving two sports pitches from the outset, although the capacity was slightly decreased from 1,115 to 1,000 (500 per side) to reduce costs. The initial tender for construction was accepted in January 1930 from the Victoria Construction Co Ltd to build a combined pavilion and grandstand ‘on the Cantilever principle at the sum of £2,793’. In March 1930 Sir Owen Williams, engineer for Wembley Stadium (1923) and later the designer of such iconic buildings as the Boots D10 building, Nottingham (1932) and the Daily Express Building, Manchester (1939), was retained by the Council on a fee of 50 guineas to check the calculations and provide a structural report. Minor changes, including increasing the proportion of cement and raising the seats six inches to improve sight lines, resulted. Shortly after construction started in May 1930, the original contractors withdrew and were replaced by Messrs William Moss & Sons Ltd. The grandstand was opened on 30 December 1930 by the Secretary of the Football Association, Sir Frederick Wall.

A steel-framed extension was later added to the football club stand roof. This first appears on the Ordnance Survey map of 1953. The changing rooms have been much altered subsequently.

When opened, the Summers Lane Grandstand was at the cutting edge of grandstand design and its reinforced concrete roof is believed to be the first in Britain to feature such a roof. The use of reinforced concrete for grandstands was in its infancy in 1930 and the first notable, large-scale grandstand with a cantilevered roof was in Italy at the municipal stadium, Florence (1930-32), designed by Pier Luigi Nervi. The first example at an English professional football ground was not built until 1958 at Scunthorpe United’s Old Showground.

The grandstand was shared after its opening with Finchley Football Club, founded in 1874 and one of the oldest clubs in the country (now Wingate and Finchley FC after a merger with Wingate FC in 1991) and Finchley Rugby Club, founded in 1925.


MATERIALS: reinforced concrete.

PLAN: rectangular and symmetrical in plan, orientated north-south, with a double-span cantilevered roof covering back-to-back stands, serving a football club to the west and rugby club to the east with separate changing rooms located below the stand.

EXTERIOR: the cantilevered concrete roof is supported on twelve T-shaped ribs set into the spine wall which divides the two halves of the stand. The football club stand roof has a later steel-framed, corrugated-iron clad extension with rounded ends supported on concrete columns. Below the roof the seating is set on nine levels of concrete terracing. The football club stand retains the original wooden bench seating in the end sections, set on concrete supports, but the central section has replacement plastic seating, which is not of special interest. The rugby club stand has similar replacement seating, which is not of special interest

The ends of the stands were originally protected by glazed panels set in steel frames. On the rugby club side the northern screen has been removed and the southern has lost its glazing. On the football club side both screens remain, although most of the glazing has been replaced with Perspex panels. Access to the stands is via a pair of centrally placed, splayed concrete stairs which project forward from the stand to create a porch for the entrance to the changing rooms below the stand. This space has been infilled on the rugby club side and a breeze-block tunnel inserted on the football side. Both sets of stairs and the stand parapets have later tubular steel safety railings.

The changing rooms below the stands originally had long narrow windows (five on each side of the central entrance) with metal Crittall frames. The openings remain unaltered on the rugby club side but have replacement uPVC frames (not of special interest). Those on the football club side have been altered to accommodate two additional entrances and have replacement metal frames.

INTERIOR: the changing rooms are laid out symmetrically with home and away dressing rooms either side of central shower/bathrooms with additional kit and referee’s rooms. Little remains of the original fittings. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’) it is declared that the interiors of both sets of changing rooms are not of special architectural or historic interest.


Books and journals
Whiddon, H, One Hundred Years of Playing the Game, 1874-1974: Featuring the History of the Finchley Football Club, the Beginning of Clubs and Leagues in North London & South Hertfordshire, (1974)
Summers Lane Grandstand Opening Ceremony Programme (1930),
Urban District of Finchley, Council Minutes (1928-31) ,


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

The listed building is shown coloured blue on the attached map. Pursuant to s.1 (5A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (‘the Act’), structures attached to or within the curtilage of the listed building (save those coloured blue on the map) are not to be treated as part of the listed building for the purposes of the Act.

End of official listing

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