March 22, 1927
Building programme of the Liverpool Football Club
The premier football clubs of the country not only have to compete in the games provided by the League and the Cup competitions, but they must also compete, though to a lesser degree, in their ground accommodation, for their supporters to view the games with as little obstruction as possible, and in reasonable comfort.
If you inquire of George Patterson, the secretary to the club, he will tell you that the “Spion Kop” at Anfield has, since its inception, been particularly devoid of comfort on a wet day. The migration of its spectators, those who had braved the uncertainty of the elements, was a heavy load and a distraction to all who had the interest of the club at heart, directors, shareholders, and perhaps particularly so, to the spectators most intimately concerned.
The Spion Kop 1927.
Imagine 19,000 spectators on the local “Derby” day match or any cup-tie, at this most popular end of the ground, and a sudden deluge, that may occur any time, turning the enclosure into chaos by spectators pressing through to the Anfield Road covered stand, when this is possible. Umbrellas are useless as they obstruct the view of the game, and wet others, who would gainsay the desirability of the new roof. Many years ago a scheme for roofing the Kop was afoot; however, it is perhaps well that the delay occurred, as methods of roofing have vastly improved since pre-war days, as will be seen in the scheme by the architect, Mr. J. Watson Cabre. At the end of the last close season a preliminary contract was let to Messrs. J.B. Johnson, Ltd, of Liverpool, for the erection of heavy foundation and piers, so that a later main contract embodying about three-fifths of the work of extending the grand stand and roofing over “Spion Kop” could be carried on throughout the playing season, without the loss of a single unit of accommodation. This contract has now been let to Messrs. Tysons (Contractors), Ltd, of Liverpool, who have been badly delayed owing to the poor delivery of steel, all British stocks having been used up during the coal strike.
The “Spion Kop” roof will be the greatest advance in modern football stand roofing that has been attempted in recent years. One huge roof span of 131 feet, of which 51 feet is clear overhang, as a cantilever reaching down almost to the touch-line, and utilising the weight of the net span roof for its balance; consequently more than half of the spectators will find cover without a post in front of them to obscure their view of the game. This overhanging roof alone would cover over the majority of the modern football grand stands. The four main stanchions to the roof each carry 230 tons, and are 90 feet apart in line, with 80 feet to the back of the Kop – easily a record unit area per stanchion. Their founding level is 22 feet deep, and keyed into the rock below, with a base 11 feet square, and stiffened at ground level by a mass concrete bed, &c. In addition, all the work will be of a permanent and fireproof nature throughout; neither corrugated iron, wood, nor any other temporary material will be used.
The new concrete terracing is of a standard of workmanship and finish perhaps never previously attained in works of a like nature; the contractors for the preliminary contract will be the sub-contractors for the granite terracing under the main contract, which this ensures continuity of finish throughout.
The roofing will be of A.P.M. maroon-coloured sheeting, in large sheets of metal, triple coated in bitumen and bitumen impregnated asbestos canvas, with silvered underside, proof against atmospheric elements without constant painting; and even with that ordinary corrugated iron has but a short life, nor is the material either brittle or nailed on. It has the advantage of being a local product by the Ellesmere Port firm, the Wolverhampton Corrugated Iron Company.
The steel contract has been let to Messrs. McIntyre and Sons, of Liverpool, who also provided the earlier steel for the preliminary foundation. With the exception of the roof trusses and the four stanchions in the terracing, all of which will, however, be painted with selected local bitumastic rust-proof paint from the Mersey Varnish Company, Bootle, the remainder of the steel is completely buried in the concrete casings. This construction is also of an ultra modern nature. The elevations to Walton Breck Road, and also to Lake Street and Kemlyn Road, are of a permanent nature, and of a simple and dignified architecture in advance of the local surrounding property rather than the reverse, which is too often the case in the purely engineering and utilitarian facades to similar structures of the preset day. The whole of the facades are finished in white cement and white-painted red brick panels, with secondary simple orders in the same materials. The metal windows, with diagonal bars, will add to the classic appearance, and the whole theme has been for brightness, efficiency, and permanency.
The block is 375 feet long by 131 feet deep, and straddles over the existing mass of “Spion Kop” and its new side extensions. The top of the Kop will be straightened to the full extent of its length as against only seventy-five feet of full height existing. The ridge height reaches seventy feet, and continuous lighting is obtained at back of stand and also in the roof; the latter extending right down to the playing pitch, where the gutter is thirty-five feet above the touch-line, thus allowing the topmost spectator about eight feet of clear vision above the crossbar of the far goal. A portion of the old grandstand roof will be jacked or raised up a few feet to give sight line to all the playing pitch throughout from the extended side of the Kop.
“Spion Kop” and new extension.
* Existing on Kop … 19,000;
* Additional by new wings, &c. and relaying out Kop … 8,000.
* Total … 27,000.
* Existing under cover on “Spion Kop” … nil;
* New covered accommodation on “Spion Kop” … 27,000.
A new wing is to be built joining up with the Kop to accommodate seating for 600. The total accommodation of the ground will then be over 68,000, of which over 58,000 spectators will be under cover.
The whole of the work is under the personal direction of the architect, Mr. Joseph Watson Cabre, of Great Crosby, Liverpool, who has been associated with the improvements effected at this ground during the last four years. Until the new structure is sufficiently advanced a clay model and a bird’s eye perspective by the architect illustrate generally the completed effect produced at this end of the ground.
The perspective published shows, in addition, an improved stand at the Anfield Road entrance of the ground; this, and in part only, will, it is hoped, be erected in the not too distant future.
The Liverpool Football Club are certainly to be congratulated on this great improvement to the popular end of the ground, for theirs will be the first roofed “Kop” in the country. It is probably the largest of these huge mounds of made ground that were named after “Spion Kop” on the Tugela River in South Africa, brought into historic prominence during the south African campaign, and christened by the “Echo” with a name that “stuck” and will never lose its point.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: March 22, 1927)