This fifth and final blog on selected iconic buildings of London modelled by Timothy Richards is of the now departed Wembley Twin Towers. The model in its larger size shown here was presented to various dignitaries at the ceremonial events at the time of their demolition in 2003 – a noble souvenir of what had once been noble. Smaller bookend versions are still available.
Unlike the buildings in my previous blogs, the Twin Towers are very unlikely to be resurrected, not least because very little remains of them. Nor did they find a new use which might have prevented demolition. However you could say that as with Temple Bar and Euston Arch, the idea of a highly visible construction lives on in the new Wembley Stadium Arch. I suspect more Londoners have seen the arch, albeit at a distance, than the towers – unless you were a football fan.
A new icon?
Of course the Arch may not become such an iconic building as the old Twin Towers, but usually that is for history to tell us. The world changes and certainly the Wembley area, like elsewhere, has seen its fair share of change over the years.
In the right light……
It looks good in the sunshine and with great lighting!
The tower that never was
In one sense the new Stadium Arch brings to Wembley what the Towers’ predecessor, Watkin’s Tower or Folly, tried to do. This was the partly-built tower on the style of the Eiffel Tower, never finished and demolished in 1907, almost a century ago. If completed like in Paris this would have been a landmark for miles. We might note that Eiffel’s masterpiece was not only completed (in 1889) but withstood plans for early demolition and still stands 127 years later. The Eiffel Tower was of course a pioneering construction, which is not something you could claim for Watkin’s Tower nor the Wembley Arch.
Compared to Temple Bar (200 years in Fleet Street, 125 years in a rural park, restored at the age of 330) and Euston Arch (125 years in place, 34 years underwater, another two decades so far in storage), the Twin Towers were mere 75 year old youngsters. Interestingly, like the Eiffel Tower, the 1923 Wembley Stadium, built specifically for the Empire Games, was slated for demolition in 1925, but was saved from this early demise. The stadium made it into the second Millennium, but though the plan to demolish the towers was first met with considerable opposition, they finally succumbed to progress. The concrete icons eventually became mere rubble, just as the Euston Arch was used to plug a hole in an East London river. Plans to preserve some parts of the Towers for display have apparently been ground into dust.
A video set to music records the demolition, and much was made of the fact that it was a German digger that began the demolition. 1966 anyone?
A pile of rubble becomes a playground
What I do know, from researching this blog, is that every time I leave London on the A40 Western Avenue, not long after I have passed the Hoover Building of the previous Building Blog No 4 , I pass the main graveyard of the old Stadium, the rubble helping to build the Northala Fields mounds. Bet you didn’t know that either. The Twin Towers moniker hasn’t died totally, labelling some of the new tall buildings steadily surrounding the stadium.
So thanks for the memory
The Twin Towers moniker hasn’t died totally, labelling some of the new tall buildings steadily surrounding the stadium. Likewise there is now a bar and restaurant, with a strong Irish and sporting theme, called Watkin’s Folly, and a Watkin Road. Perhaps the strongest memories will live on in the minds of the many thousands who enjoyed their football, watched the Empire and Olympics Games or listened to their favourite rock group under the watch of the twin towers of Wembley. And the models hold up my old books nicely.
That’s all folks, for now
That’s it for now for my five part series of blogs on a few models of iconic past and present London buildings, or more fully, buildings, towers and arches. Buildings that have been demolished, moved, relocated, resurrected, changed to survive or just plain disappeared off the face of the Earth … or have the Twin Towers just gone underground? There’s more to our buildings than meets the eye. And do take a look at all the other wonderful models that Timothy Richards has on offer!
The Five Building Blogs
- Temple Bar and the end of geography
- Euston Arch, a hub of controversy
- Floral Hall, Orchids to Oysters to Opera
- From Hoover to Tesco
- Wembley: Twin Towers to Single Arch