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Thursday, 3 May 2012

Archibald Leitch’s Latticework

Regular visitors to Goodison Park will notice the latticework’s on the front of the Bullens Road stand. In recent years the billboards that have hidden the true beauty of the latticeworks have been removed and the stand looks much the better for it.

The front of the Gwladys Street also has the distinctive looking latticeworks to a lesser extent at the front of the Upper tier although at the moment this is covered by hoardings.

The man behind these iconic looking latticeworks is a Glaswegian named Archibald Leitch. Leitch who was famous for designing football stands. Many football fans will recognise the criss-cross style latticework’s at the front of football stands which became his trademark over the years.

Originally Leitch began designing factories and such in his home city of Glasgow in Scotland. However it was in 1899 that he moved into designing football stands when he was asked to build Ibrox, the home of Rangers Football Club in Scotland.

Leitch was praised for the practical uses of the stands and stadiums rather than how they looked. In general most of his stands had two tier with criss-crossed steel balustrades at the front of the upper tier, and were covered by a series of pitched roofs, built so that their ends faced onto the playing field; the central roof span would be distinctly larger, and would incorporate a distinctive pediment.

His first project in England was the design and building of the John Street Stand at Bramall Lane, which provided 3,000 seats and terracing for 6,000 and was dominated by a large mock-Tudor press box.

Even after the Ibrox disaster of 1902, when 26 people were killed when a bank of terracing collapsed, Leitch was still in demand.

Over the next four decades he became Britain's foremost football architect. In total he was commissioned to design part or all of more than 20 stadiums in the UK and Ireland between 1899 and 1939.

Sunderland has some of the latticework from Roker Park outside the Stadium of Light and if Everton do eventually move to pastures new then it would be nice if the club could make a similar gesture to remember our history and the iconic work of Archibald Leitch.

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