1948  London Summer Olympics

1948 Summer Olympics - Olympic Venues

Venues of the 1948 Summer Olympics


A total of twenty-five sports venues were used to host the events of the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom. For the first time in the history of the modern Olympic Games, the diving, gymnastics, swimming, and water polo competitions were held indoors. These Games have since been nicknamed the "Austerity Games" for the tight control of costs at a time when the host nation was still under rationing, which resulted in a total expenditure of around £750,000. All of the venues were already in place and required only temporary modifications. The organizing committee decided not to build an Olympic Village; instead, foreign athletes were housed in makeshift camps at military bases and colleges around London, while local athletes were told to stay at home. Despite these measures, the combined venues of the 1948 Summer Olympics recorded the highest attendance figures for a Games at that time 

A stadium on a sunny day, two large white towers can be seen with one either side of the entrance.

The twin towers of Wembley Stadium, previously known as Empire Stadium, in 2002


The Empire Stadium (later to be known as Wembley Stadium) was chosen as the main venue, ahead of the White City Stadium, which had assumed that role during the 1908 Summer Olympics. This was due to the Empire Stadium's ability to hold a greater number of events, reducing the need for additional venues to be found. A new approach road was required to connect the stadium to the nearby Wembley Park tube station, so it was agreed that Wembley Stadium Ltd. would cover the costs in return for a share of the proceeds for the events held there. Motorcycle and greyhound races usually held at the Empire Stadium were highly profitable events, which meant that a cinder running track was not laid down until two weeks before the opening ceremony. Lacking an infield lighting system, cars were driven inside the stadium to illuminate it for the last two events of the decathlon. The cycling tandem event, which was held in the dark, was another example of the main venue's lighting issues. After the Games it was used as the English national football stadium, hosting numerous concerts and sporting events, including the 1966 FIFA World Cup Final and the British leg of Live Aid in 1985. It was closed in 2000, and demolished three years later to allow the construction of the new Wembley Stadium. Adjacent to the stadium was the Empire Pool, which hosted the Olympic aquatic events and was the first-ever indoor Olympic pool. The pool was longer than the Olympic standard of 50 metres (160 ft), so a wooden platform had to be built to reduce the overall length. Due to lack of space, the pool was covered over so that boxing events could take place. The blackout paint which covered all of the venue windows – still remaining from the Second World War – had to be removed before the Games. The Olympics were the last event to make use of this pool, before it was concreted over.

Aldershot was chosen over Windsor Great Park to host most of the Equestrian events. The central sports ground at Aldershot Command was selected to host the equestrian events with the exception of the team jumping events, and a demonstration by the individual dressage gold medalist, which were both held at Empire Stadium on the last day of the games. It was also chosen to host several events in the modern pentathlon event; the venue had previously hosted the British Championship in 1947.

Bisley and Henley had both been previously used as venues during the 1908 Games. Bisley hosted most of the shooting events while Henley hosted the rowing competition. Henley continues to host the Royal Regatta, which started in 1839, and remains in use as of 2010 for global competition, including the Diamond Sculls event. The Harringay Arena was built in 1928 and staged sporting events until its demolition in 1958.[22] Built in 1891, the Herne Hill Velodrome hosted track cycling. After falling into disrepair by 2011, a modernization plan was implemented to make extensive structural repairs to the site and install a new track surface so that it could used by British Cycling, the national sport governing body.

For London 2012, the Empress Hall (now Earls Court Exhibition Centre) and Empire Pool (now Wembley Arena) were once again used as venues. The former hosted the volleyball events while the latter hosted badminton and rhythmic gymnastics

London-based venues

List of venues of the 1948 Summer Olympics in London
Venue Sports Capacity[a]
Arsenal Stadium Football 73,000
Champion Hill Football 3,000
Craven Cottage Football 25,700
Empire Pool Boxing, diving, swimming, water polo 12,500
Empire Stadium Athletics, equestrian (team jumping), field hockey (medal matches), football (medal matches) 82,000
Empress Hall, Earl's Court Boxing, gymnastics, weightlifting, wrestling 19,000
Finchley Lido Water polo Not listed
Green Pond Road Stadium Football 21,708
Griffin Park Football 12,763
Guinness Sports Club Field hockey Not listed
Harringay Arena Basketball, wrestling Not listed
Herne Hill Velodrome Cycling (track) Not listed
Lynn Road Football 3,500
Lyons' Sports Club Field hockey Not listed
Polytechnic Sports Ground Field hockey Not listed
Royal Military Academy Modern pentathlon (running) Not listed
Selhurst Park Football 26,309
Wembley Palace of Engineering Fencing Not listed
White Hart Lane Football 36,310

Venues outside London

List of venues of the 1948 Summer Olympics outside London
Venue Location Sports Capacity[a]
Aldershot Command Central Sports Ground Hampshire Equestrian (dressage, eventing, individual jumping), modern pentathlon (riding, fencing, swimming) Not listed
Bisley National Rifle Association Ranges Bisley, Surrey Modern pentathlon (shooting), shooting Not listed
Fratton Park Portsmouth Football Not listed
Goldstone Ground Brighton Football Not listed
Henley Royal Regatta Henley-on-Thames Canoeing, rowing Not listed
Torbay Devon Sailing Not listed
Tweseldown Racecourse Fleet, Hampshire Equestrian (eventing) Not listed
Windsor Great Park Windsor, Berkshire Cycling (road) Not listed

Arsenal Stadium

Arsenal Stadium was a football stadium in Highbury, North London, which was the home of Arsenal Football Club between 6 September 1913 and 7 May 2006. It was popularly known as "Highbury" due to its location and was given the affectionate nickname of the "Home of Football" by the club.The original stadium was built in 1913, when Woolwich Arsenal moved from the Manor Ground in Plumstead, South East London to Highbury, leasing the recreation fields of St John's College of Divinity for £20,000
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During the 1948 Summer Olympics, the stadium hosted the football preliminaries. For the next 50 years, the stadium changed little, although during the Second World War the North Bank terrace was bombed and had to be rebuilt; the roof was not restored until 1956.

Champion Hill


Champion Hill is a football stadium in East Dulwich in the London Borough of Southwark. It is the home ground of Dulwich Hamlet. Dulwich Hamlet began playing at the ground in 1912. 'The Hill' was formerly one of the largest amateur grounds in England, with attendances often reaching 20,000 and beyond. The ground was used for football at the 1948 Summer Olympics, staging a game between Mexico and South Korea.

Dulwich Hamlet v Enfield Town, 27 April 2017 (30).jpg
Main stand and dugouts in April 2017

Craven Cottage


 Craven Cottage is a football stadium located in Fulham, London. It has been the home ground of Fulham F.C. since 1896. The ground's current capacity is 25,700, all-seated, though the record attendance is 49,335, for a game against Millwall, 8 October 1938.

The ground hosted several football games for the 1948 Summer Olympics, and is one of the last extant that did


Empire Pool (Wembley Arena)


The Empire Pool (also known as Empire Pool and Sports Arena) was built for the 1934 British Empire Games at Wembley, by Arthur Elvin, and originally housed a swimming pool, as reflected by its name. The pool itself was last used for the 1948 Summer Olympics. The building is used for music, comedy, family entertainment and sport.

It was designed by the engineer Sir Owen Williams, without the employment of an architect. Williams built a unique structure, with cantilevers meeting in the middle, thus avoiding the need for internal pillars. He also used high quality concrete, meaning that it has aged far better than many more recent concrete buildings.

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Work on the Empire Pool began in November 1933, and it was opened on 25 July 1934 by the Duke of Gloucester. At the time it had the largest span of any similar structure in the world. As with the Stadium, construction was supervised by R.J. Fowler, Wembley's chief building inspector.

Elvin introduced ice hockey to the new Empire Pool in October 1934. In 1976, the Empire Pool was awarded Grade II Listed status, recognising it as a building of special architectural interest, technological innovation and virtuosity. On 1 February 1978, the Empire Pool was renamed Wembley Arena.

Empire Stadium (Wembley Stadium)

The original Wembley Stadium (/ˈwɛmbli/; formerly known as the Empire Stadium) was a football stadium in Wembley Park, London, which stood on the same site now occupied by its successor, the new Wembley Stadium. The demolition in 2003 of its famous Twin Towers upset many people worldwide. Debris from the stadium was used to make the Northala Fields in Northolt, London.

Wembley hosted the FA Cup final annually, the first in 1923, the League Cup final annually, five European Cup finals, the 1966 World Cup Final, and the final of Euro 96. Brazilian footballer Pelé once said of the stadium: "Wembley is the cathedral of football. It is the capital of football and it is the heart of football," in recognition of its status as the world's best-known football stadium. The stadium hosted the 1948 Summer Olympics, rugby league’s Challenge Cup final, and the 1992 and 1995 Rugby League World Cup Finals. It also hosted numerous music events, including the 1985 Live Aid charity concert, and in profes

sional wrestling hosted the WWF’s SummerSlam in 1992.

Wembley was the main venue for the 1948 Summer Olympics, with Fanny Blankers-Koen and Emil Zátopek among the notable winners in athletics. The Stadium also hosted the semifinals and finals of the Olympic hockey and football tournaments, the Prix des Nations event in the equestrian competition, and a demonstration match of lacrosse.

Earls Court Exhibition Centre

Earls Court Exhibition Centre was an internationally renowned exhibition and events venue in London, considered iconic by many visitors, that originally opened in 1887. A permanent structure in art moderne style was not built until 1935–37. Its heritage listing was refused after it was acquired by developers and demolition was completed, in 2017.

Located in Earl's Court straddling the boundary between the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, it was the largest such venue within central London served by two London Underground stations, one of them, Earl's Court tube station, being specially adapted for show visitors and with a direct link to Heathrow Airport.

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The founder was Leeds entrepreneur, John R. Whitley and the first attraction headlined performances by Buffalo Bill Cody as part of the 'American Wild West' Show visited by Queen Victoria and subsequently by members of the Royal Household. This was followed by "Four National Exhibitions", the title of C. Lowe's 1892 book about Earls Court and its founder.

Earl's Court was widely known for serving as London's premier exhibition venue for many decades, hosting the Royal Smithfield Show, Royal Tournament, the British International Motor Show, London Boat Show, the Ideal Home Show, Billy Graham rallies, the Brit Awards (until 2010), Crufts and other notable events such as large scale opera productions and pop concerts in addition to hundreds of trade shows, such as the London Book Fair. It was also used as one of the venues for both the 1948 and 2012 Olympic Games.

Finchley Lido

Finchley Lido is a leisure complex at grid reference TQ266911, just east of the suburb of North Finchley in the London Borough of Barnet.

Currently there is a swimming pool and leisure centre, cinema, several food restaurants, bowling facilities and large amount of car parking spaces. Finchley Lido is extremely popular with the local population of Finchley at weekends, as it is one of the only cinema complexes in this area of North London.

The original 1930s outdoor pool, which no longer exists, was enclosed by an elegant colonnade of Roman Doric columns, with fountains to either side and was used to host the men's preliminaries to the water polo competition for the 1948 Summer Olympics.

The original site with its main pool and children's pool was closed in 1992.

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Green Pond Road

Green Pond Road was a football stadium in Walthamstow, London and the home ground of Walthamstow Avenue until they merged with Leytonstone & Ilford to form Redbridge Forest, a precursor to Dagenham & Redbridge. The ground was often simply called 'The (Green) Pond'. The stadium was used for one game during the football tournament of the 1948 Summer Olympics.

Olympic matches

Date Time Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Attendance
2 August 1948 18:30  Turkey 2–1  Republic of China First round 3,000
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Griffin Park

Griffin Park is a football ground in Brentford, situated in the London Borough of Hounslow, Greater London. It has been the home ground of Championship club Brentford since it was built in 1904. The ground is situated in a predominantly residential area and is known for being the only English league football ground to have a pub on each corner. The ground gets its name from the griffin, featured in the logo of Fuller's Brewery, which at one point owned the orchard on which the stadium was built. File:Griffin Park 1982 - geograph-2023521.jpg

Guinness Sports Club (Park Royal)

Park Royal is an area in northwest London, England. It is the site of the largest business park in London, occupying about 500 hectares (1,200 acres). Park Royal Business Park is promoted commercially by the Park Royal Business Group (PRBG) which is part of West London Business. Park Royal is partly in the London Borough of Brent and partly the London Borough of Ealing.

Park Royal business park has over 1,200 businesses, employing an estimated 35,000 workers. Approximately 500 food companies operate at Park Royal, employing more than 14,000 people. One third of all the food consumed in London is supplied by businesses in Park Royal. Park Royal also has areas of residential housing and amenities serving them.

The Guinness Sports Club hosted some of the field hockey events for the 1948 Summer Olympics.

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Harringay Arena

Harringay Arena was a sporting and events venue on Green Lanes in Harringay, North London, England. Built in 1936, it lasted as a venue until 1958.

However famous the Arena became for boxing, commercial necessity led to a diversification into a wider range of events including:

The basketball and wrestling events for the 1948 Summer Olympics
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Herne Hill Velodrome

The Herne Hill Velodrome is a velodrome in Herne Hill, in south London. It is one of the oldest cycling tracks in the world, having been built in 1891. It hosted the track cycling events in the 1948 Summer Olympics and was briefly the home of Crystal Palace Football Club during World War I

The organising committee of the 1948 Olympic Games chose it as "the only suitable" track. It said "considerable work would have to be carried out to bring the arena, both from a competition and a spectator point of view, up to the required standard for Olympic events." The track was repaired, permanent stands were built - the only permanent construction work carried out by the Games organisers - and the approach roads and turnstiles were improved and extended. A temporary stand was built in the back straight for journalists, who had 12 telephone boxes to report to the world. A small scoreboard was also put up,which the crowd "fully appreciated."

The cycling press said it was disappointed that the Games opened at Herne Hill without ceremony:

What a strange nation we British are! The greatest cycling festival of this century—the XIVth Olympiad—might well have been an ordinary track promotion on the opening day at Herne Hill. Greatest oversight was the omission of any form of opening ceremony. The sparse crowd of 3,000 which gathered to watch the two-hour morning racing session received a lukewarm greeting over the loudspeakers and were then immediately given the draw of the 1,000m sprint.

The racing was reported as good but the organisation poor:

The worst organisation of the entire XIVth Olympiad cycling events resulted in the deciding third heat of the tandem final being held at nine o'clock. It was so dark when the two tandem pairs lined up for the final run that the Italians, in their blue racing vests, were invisible against the background of spectators. To put two tandems on the track under such conditions was a disgrace.

The light was so poor that the photo-finish camera did not work and judges told photographers not to use flash for fear of harming both their and the racers' night vision.

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Lynn Road

Lynn Road was a football ground in the Newbury Park area of Ilford, London. It was the home ground of Ilford F.C. from 1904 until 1977 and hosted football matches during the 1948 Summer Olympics.

Olympic matches

Date Time Team #1 Result Team #2 Round Attendance
31 July 1948 18:30  France 2–1  India First round 17,000
5 August 1948 18:30  Yugoslavia 3–1  Turkey Second round 8,000
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Lyons' Sports Club, Sudbury, London

Sudbury (/ˈsʌdbəri/) is a suburb in the London Boroughs of Brent and Harrow, located in northwest London, United Kingdom. The suburb forms the western part of Wembley and is centred around a kilometre west of Wembley Central railway station.

Sudbury is an historical area having once extended from the 'South Manor- Sudbury' (thought to have been on Harrow Hill) to the area that is now known as Wembley Central. Much of the land that once formed Sudbury Common until the 1930s has now been developed as a relatively green residential suburb of London. Much of Sudbury was once in the ownership of the Barham family who give their name to a number of local landmarks including Barham School and Barham Park.

The Lyons' Sports Club hosted the field hockey preliminaries for the 1948 Summer Olympics

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Polytechnic Stadium (London)

The Polytechnic Stadium is a sports venue on Hartington Road, Chiswick, London.

It hosted the field hockey preliminaries for the 1948 Summer Olympics
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Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS or RMA Sandhurst), commonly known simply as Sandhurst, is one of several military academies of the United Kingdom and is the British Army's initial officer training centre. It is located in the town of Sandhurst, Berkshire, though its ceremonial entrance is in Camberley, southwest of London. The Academy's stated aim is to be "the national centre of excellence for leadership". All British Army officers, including late-entry officers who were previously Warrant Officers, as well as other men and women from overseas, are trained at The Academy. Sandhurst is the British Army equivalent of the Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth, Royal Air Force College Cranwell, and the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines.

For the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, the newly created Academy hosted the running leg of the modern pentathlon competition.

Selhurst Park

Selhurst Park is an association football stadium located in the London suburb of Selhurst in the Borough of Croydon. It is the home ground of Crystal Palace Football Club playing in the Premier League. The stadium was designed by Archibald Leitch and opened in 1924. The stadium has hosted one international football match as well as games for the 1948 Summer Olympics. Part of the stadium incorporates a branch of Sainsbury's. The stadium was shared by Charlton Athletic F.C. from 1985 until 1991 and then by Wimbledon F.C. from 1991 until 2003.
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White Hart Lane

White Hart Lane was a football stadium in Tottenham, North London and the home of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club from 1899 to 2017. Its capacity varied over the years; when changed to all-seater it had a capacity of 36,284 before demolition. The stadium was fully demolished after the end of the 2016–17 season.
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The stadium, which was known amongst Spurs fans as The Lane, had hosted 2,533 competitive Spurs games in its 118-year history. It had also been used for England national football matches and England under-21 football matches. White Hart Lane held capacity records in the early 1960s with numbers entering the 70,000s, but as seating was introduced, the stadium's capacity decreased to a modest number in comparison to other Premier League clubs. The record attendance at the ground was 75,038, for an FA Cup tie on 5 March 1938 against Sunderland. Tottenham's final game at White Hart Lane was played on 14 May 2017 with a 2–1 victory against Manchester United.In the 1930s, football had a popular following, and despite Tottenham's relative lack of success at the time, 75,038 spectators squeezed into White Hart Lane in March 1938 to see Spurs' performance against Sunderland in the FA Cup. The redeveloped stadium was also used for international matches; in 1935 it hosted a game between Nazi Germany and England that England won, 3–0. The venue also hosted some of the football preliminaries for the 1948 Summer Olympics. During the Second World War, Spurs shared the ground with rival Arsenal when Highbury was requisitioned by the government and used as an Air Raid Precautions centre


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