The History of Twickenham Stadium

From its humble beginnings as a market garden, Twickenham has evolved over the last 115 years into an award-winning, world-class sports stadium.


RFU purchases a 10 ¼ acre market garden in Twickenham for £5,572.12.6. Committee member William Williams was largely responsible for acquiring the land, against much opposition. It becomes known as "Billy Williams' Cabbage Patch".


The first stands at Twickenham are built. Covered stands were built in the east and the west of the stadium with a terrace to the south. Transport considerations were made with the addition of a car park to the west with enough space for 200 carriages.


Events at the stadium are put on hold at the outbreak of the First World War. In the absence of rugby matches the pitch was used to graze cattle and horses.


The construction of the North Stand is completed. The new 10,500 seat stand meant that for the first time there were buildings surrounding the pitch. With the opening of the stand Twickenham received a record crowd of 60,000 to see New Zealand play England as part of the Invincibles tour.


The Rowland Hill Memorial Gate is unveiled. George Rowland Hill was Secretary of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) from 1881 to 1904 and became President in 1904. Hill gave 49 years' service to the RFU and upon his death in 1928 the Union wanted to make a fitting and lasting tribute to him at the stadium.


The West and South Stands have an upgrade. An investment of £75,025 into the stadium meant that the new West Stand had a second tier of seating and was able to hold an extra 12,000 fans. The extension of the South Terrace increased capacity by a further 20,000. Staff offices were located within the stadium for the first time.


The stadium becomes a civil defence depot at the outbreak of the Second World War. Function rooms within the stadium were turned into dormitories and common rooms. The East Car Park was dug over to make allotments and help with food shortages whilst the West Car Park became a coal dump.


Twickenham celebrates its Golden Jubilee. 50 years after the first match at the stadium, Twickenham celebrates its Golden Jubilee with a rematch of the first game between Harlequins and Richmond.


The Rugby Football Union celebrates its centenary. The lion on top of the Rowland Hill Memorial Gates was a centenary gift to the RFU from the Greater London Council. Installed in 1971 it measures 1.7m long by 1.6m high and is made of Coade stone. It was gilded for the World Cup in 1991 at a cost of £6,000.


Planning permission is granted for the new South Stand. As well as the stand being covered for the first time, the new plans include an extra tier for seating.


Sir Hector Munro opens the new South Stand. Sir Hector Munro, Minister for Sport and former President of the Scottish RFU, officially opened the new South Stand at Twickenham. It contained a banqueting suite called the Rose Room with seating for 400 people.


The new North Stand is opened. After demolition of the old North Stand in 1988, HRH Princess Anne opened the new stand before the annual Calcutta Cup match between England and Scotland. The new stand provided 14,800 seats. After hosting the Rugby World Cup final, the East Stand is demolished.


The new East Stand is completed. The new stand provided 25,000 seats and was officially opened by the HRH Queen Elizabeth II in 1994 before the England v Wales Five Nations match.


The new West Stand is opened. After demolition in 1994, the new stand was opened before the England v Western Samoa match. The new stand accommodated 25,000 seats, dressing rooms, a medical suite and fitness centre.


The Museum of Rugby was opened to the public by The Right Hon Virginia Bottomley MP JP in March.


Twickenham hosts its first concert. The stadium became an outdoor music venue for the first time playing host to the Rolling Stones in August on their 'Licks' tour.


The South Stand is demolished. The old South Stand was demolished in a single explosion. The RFU had planned a series of festivities around the demolition but these were cancelled due to the 7/7 London attacks.


The South Stand is officially opened. Tessa Jowell MP officially opened the South Stand on 5th November. Seating capacity in the stadium became the highest it had ever been at 82,000. In 2008 the Rugby Store took up residence in its new 7,000ft home in the South Stand complex. It was joined in 2009 by the Marriott hotel and Virgin Active gym.


The Core Values Statue is unveiled. The massive 27ft bronze statue, created by Pop artist and sculptor Gerald Laing, was officially unveiled in June. The statue represents the five core values of England Rugby: teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship.


The dressing rooms are completely renovated. As part of the renovation works for the 2015 Rugby World Cup both the Home and Away Dressing Rooms were completely renovated. In the Home Dressing Room a new technical area was added for the coaches, a recovery area for the players, as well as hydrotherapy baths. The Away Dressing Room was extended and a coaches' area added.


New larger screens installed in the North and South Stands along with LED floodlighting. In order to host the 2015 World Cup, the RFU committed to delivering a state of the art stadium. The new LED banners installed in 2012 to replace the static advertising panels were the first step in this process. This was followed in 2014 by floodlights and new screens. These were hung from the roof of the stands and allowed for the addition of an extra 445 seats.


The Rose and Poppy Gates are unveiled. Installed as part of the Rugby Football Union's First World War commemorations, the gates were designed by artist Harry Gray. The gates commemorate rugby players who died during the First World War.


The East Stand Development project begins. After planning permission was granted in 2016, the East Stand Development project began in 2017. Now completed, the new development added 11,600m2 over 6 levels of hospitality areas.

With thanks to the World Rugby Museum for providing content. Book today to visit the museum or take a tour of Twickenham Stadium. Book here

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