Event at Wembley Stadium in Wembley Park

The History of Wembley Park

Dive into the history of Wembley Park

Early Wembley

1792

The wealthy Page family employed Humphry Repton to landscape their estate, and on his advice, called it Wembley Park.

1880S

The Metropolitan Railway opened a line across the estate in 1880, and its chairman, the Victorian magnate Sir Edward Watkin, bought the rest of Wembley Park with the vision of creating a pleasure ground for Londoners.

1894

Watkin had seen the newly-built Eiffel Tower in Paris. He wanted to build a bigger one, and the estate’s hill top seemed the ideal place. In May 1894 Wembley Park station was opened to bring people from London and beyond to these new pleasure grounds. Although the tower was not ready, the park offered a variety of sports facilities, refreshment rooms, a music hall and bandstands in gardens with a boating lake. In 1895 it attracted 120,000 visitors.

Watkins Folly design for Wembley Park in 1880s
Plans for Watkins Folly in Wembley Park

1896

May 1896 saw the first stage of the tower open. Visitors could take a lift to a viewing platform 47 metres above the hill top. The final height of the tower was meant to be around 350 metres, but work stopped after its foundations started sinking. Even before Sir Edward died in 1901 there was no money left to carry on with the project, which was already being called “Watkin’s Folly”. Demolition of the tower began in 1904, and ended with the foundations being blown up with dynamite in September 1907.

Early 1900s

1921

The British Government designated the lands at Wembley Park as the location for the British Empire Exhibition. Works begin to transform the parkland setting into a major exhibition park with associated buildings.

1922-23

The new Empire Stadium (later to become Wembley Stadium) opened the year before the Exhibition for the 1923 FA Cup Final. Designed by Sir Owen Williams KBE, the Empire Stadium was opened by King George V. Its famous twin towers became symbols of the nation’s aim to turn outwards and welcome the world. Local roads were widened to allow access for new bus services and the growing number of cars. Visitors were impressed by Wembley’s transport connections into central London, and it became a popular place to live.

Empire Stadium (now Wembley Stadium) 1923 in Wembley Park
Wembley Stadium in 1923

1924-1925

In 1924-25, Wembley Park hosted the British Empire Exhibition, with over fifty nations from around the world taking part. 27 million visitors came to see wonders of engineering, arts and commerce. Exhibits included Queen Mary’s dolls house (with a working piano and flushing toilets) and a life-size sculpture of the Prince of Wales in butter. Plasticine was seen for the first time. A special railway loop line and station were built as well as the screw-driven ‘Never-Stop-Railway’. Visitors enjoyed the open boulevards and excellent transport connections, and Wembley Park evolved into the world’s first internationally-recognised venue.

1924 Empire Exhibition Map at Wembley Stadium in Wembley Park

1934

The Empire Pool, later renamed Wembley Arena, and now called The SSE Arena, Wembley, was built for the second Empire Games, later names The Commonwealth Games. This 60m pool had Europe’s first wave machine and a diving pool, providing a draw for the whole of London. The venue was designed to host a wide range of events, from ice skating to horse shows and boxing; and its original pool is preserved today under the Arena floor. The first music concert staged in Wembley Arena was ‘The Record Star Show’ in 1959.

Empire Pool in Wembley Park
The Empire Pool inside the now-known The SSE Arena, Wembley

1948

Wembley Hosts the 1948 Summer Olympics, also known as the ‘Austerity Games’. Dutch athlete Fanny Blankers Cohen, also known as the ‘Flying Dutch Woman’, who changed perceptions of women in sport by being the first woman to win four gold medals at the Olympics. Kingsway is renamed Olympic Way.

Late 1990s

1960s

Beatles, Stones, The Who, Cliff Richards, Status Quo all play their first shows at Wembley.

Beatles in 1960s playing at Wembley Stadium in Wembley Park

1966

England’s football team, captained by Bobby Moore, wins the World Cup at Wembley, a high point of post-war English history.

Bobby Moore holding World Cup Trophy after 1966 win at Wembley Stadium in Wembley Park

"Some people are on the pitch, they think it's all over. It is now!"

BBC commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme's now world-famous quote.

1970s

Led Zeppelin, Abba, Bowie all perform at Wembley. Wembley Hill Station is renamed Wembley Complex before being renamed Wembley Stadium Station in 1987.

1982

Wembley Stadium provides the setting for the first open-air Mass of Pope John Paul II's visit to Britain. The stadium welcomed 80,000 visitors to attend the event.

1985

Live Aid, one of the largest ever live global satellite broadcasts of all time, is visited by 72,000 spectators, reaching an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion, across 150 nations, raising ₤150 million for famine relief.

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1980’s

All the biggest stars of the 1980’s perform at Wembley, including Michael Jackson, Madonna, Simply Red, Tina Turner.

1990s

Nelson Mandela Attends Charity Concert. Throughout the 90s Wembley continued to host global names including Oasis, Blur, Take That, The Spice Girls and Michael Jackson.

1996

Wembley hosts UEFA EURO 1996 Gazza scored an amazing goal which became part of football folklore. Just don’t mention the penalty shoot out. Despite developments such as the Conference Centre, the Stadium gradually became outmoded, and it was ready for regeneration.

The old Wembley Stadium in Wembley Park
The old Wembley Stadium with the famous twin-towers
2000s

2002

Quintain purchases the land around the stadium site with the vision - shared with Brent Council - of Delivering a long-term future for this iconic location, alive as a 365-day neighbourhood rather than just on event days.

2006

Wembley Arena, now renamed The SSE Arena, Wembley was refurbished by Quintain at a cost of £34m and its entrance turned around to open onto a new square facing the Stadium, creating an attractive new public space. Depeche Mode performed the first concert in the refurbished Arena to a sell-out crowd.

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2007

The old stadium was demolished by the FA in 2003 and reopened with a new landmark arch in 2007.

Wembley Stadium Arch in Wembley Park

2008-10

Two apartment buildings, Forum House and Quadrant Court, opened, creating 525 new homes, welcoming Wembley Park’s first residents.

2000s

Wembley welcomes the world’s most successful artists of the decade, including Britney, Beyonce, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Madonna, Kylie, Cher, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, Take That, and One Direction.

Event at Wembley Stadium in Wembley Park
2010s

2012

Hilton London Wembley is completed on time for the London 2012 Olympics. A new public realm is added to create new places and green spaces for people to enjoy, including Wembley Park Boulevard and Wembley Lawns.

Hilton London, Wembley and The SSE Arena, Wembley at Wembley Park
Hilton London, Wembley

2013

Quintain opens London Designer Outlet in October 2013, bringing a unique new leisure and retail offering to north west London. By 2016, the LDO already welcomed over 7m visitors per year. The success of the development inspired Brent Council to relocate its offices to Wembley Park, creating an award-winning building connecting into Arena Square, Brent Civic Centre.

London Designer Outlet in Wembley Park

2014-15

A new, all-weather children’s playpark and public event space opened next to London Designer Outlet, and construction started on the next 475 homes at Wembley Park, due for completion in early 2016. Market Square opens.
Construction of Emerald Gardens begins around a landscaped courtyard garden.

2016

Quintain Living launches, welcoming the next generation of residents to Wembley Park. Development gathers pace with the construction of Alto and Elvin Gardens.

Quintain Living Hub in Wembley Park

2018

Boxpark Wembley opens, the largest in London to date. Much-loved community centre, The Yellow, opens its doors in a new, purpose-built home in Elvin Gardens.

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2019

Bread Ahead bakery and cooking school opens as well as Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre with the National Theatre’s War Horse. Weaver Walk welcomes independent retailers such as Twenty3C, ChopChop and Wembley Park Market opens/

Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre Exterior in Wembley
2020s

2020

White Horse pub opens.

2021

Quintain provides significant upgrade to Olympic Way and together with London Borough of Brent, delivers the Olympic Steps - Wembley Welcomes the postponed UEFA Euro 2020 in Summer 2021.

Amazon Fresh opens showcasing ‘Just Walk Out’ technology

The Olympic Steps in Wembley Park
The future

2024

A brand-new 7-acre public park will be completed adding to the total 42 acres of public realm.

2025

The next phase of the area’s masterplan sets out an exciting future which will include a new Youth Centre and 200 additional nursery places, as well as a GP Surgery.