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Archibald Keir Leitch
|Born||27 April 1865|
|Died||25 April 1939(aged 73)|
|Projects||Ayresome Park, Bramall Lane, Arsenal Stadium, Stamford Bridge, Celtic Park, Anfield, Craven Cottage, Hampden Park, Roker Park, Old Trafford, Villa Park, Ibrox, White Hart Lane, Fratton Park, Valley Parade, Tynecastle Park (Heart of Midlothian), Leeds Road, Dens Park.|
Born in Glasgow, Leitch's early work was on designing tea factories in Deltota in the former Kandyan Kingdom of Ceylon, as well as factories in his home city and in Lanarkshire, the sole surviving example of which being the category A listed Sentinel Works at Jessie Street, Polmadie, south of Glasgow city centre. In 1896 he became a member of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland, and later of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He moved into stadium design when he was commissioned to build Ibrox Park, the new home ground of his boyhood heroes Rangers, in 1899.
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Leitch's stadiums were initially considered functional rather than aesthetically elegant, and were clearly influenced by his early work on industrial buildings. Typically, his stands had two tiers, 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.
Leitch's reputation as an architect was damaged as a result of the Ibrox disaster of 1902, when 25 people were killed when a bank of wooden terracing collapsed due to substandard pine being used in the terraces. Leitch, in attendance at the disaster, convinced Rangers to hire him to build the replacement stand. Leitch patented a new form of strengthening terraces for the Ibrox rebuild. 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, including:
- Anfield, Liverpool
- Arsenal Stadium, Highbury, London
- Ayresome Park, Middlesbrough
- Bramall Lane, Sheffield
- Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff
- Celtic Park, Glasgow
- Craven Cottage, Fulham, London
- Dalymount Park, Dublin, Ireland
- Deepdale, Preston
- The Old Den, New Cross, London
- Dens Park, Dundee
- The Dell, Southampton
- Ewood Park, Blackburn
- The Double Decker stand (The Kop), Filbert Street, Leicester
- Fratton Park, Portsmouth
- Goodison Park, Liverpool
- Hampden Park, Glasgow
- Home Park, Plymouth
- Hyde Road Football Stadium, Manchester (General ground improvements 1911-1914 and was planning a complete rebuild of the ground to accommodate 100,000 but war broke out, bringing a halt to those plans)
- Ibrox Park, Glasgow
- Hillsborough Stadium, Sheffield
- Lansdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland
- Leeds Road, Huddersfield
- Molineux, Wolverhampton
- Old Trafford, Trafford, Greater Manchester
- Park Avenue, Bradford
- Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
- Roker Park, Sunderland
- Rugby Park, Kilmarnock
- Saltergate, Chesterfield
- Selhurst Park, South Norwood, London
- Somerset Park, Ayr
- Stamford Bridge, Fulham, London
- Stark's Park, Kirkcaldy
- Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London
- Tynecastle Park, Edinburgh
- Valley Parade, Bradford (Midland Road stand and other extensions)
- Villa Park, Birmingham
- West Ham Stadium, Custom House, Newham, London
- White Hart Lane, Tottenham, London
- Windsor Park, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Many of his works have since been demolished for redevelopment, especially in wake of the Taylor Report and the move to all-seater stadiums. For instance, the Trinity Road Stand at Villa Park, considered his masterpiece, was demolished in 2000. The main stand and pavilion at Craven Cottage, the facade of the main stand at Ibrox (although the stand itself has been remodelled) and the Bullens Road and Gwladys Street stands at Goodison Park survive; they are now listed buildings, as was the Leitch-designed main stand at Heart of Midlothian's Tynecastle Park; however, in 2016 permission was granted for that structure to be demolished and replaced.
- "The chronicles of Archibald Keir Leitch: Remembering Britain's legendary football architect".
- "Sentinel Works, 61-89, Jessie Street, Polmadie". Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
- "Dictionary of Scottish Architects - DSA Architect Biography Report (November 7, 2015, 2:04 pm)". scottisharchitects.org.uk.
- "Reinforced Concrete Football Stand at Bradford", Concrete and Constructional Engineering, Vol. V., No. 1, January 1910, pp. 16-22.
- Sheils, Robert (November 1998). "The fatalities at the Ibrox disaster of 1902" (PDF). The Sports Historian. British Society of Sports History. 18 (2): 148–155. doi:10.1080/17460269809445801.
- Brocklehurst, Steven (25 April 2019). "Archibald Leitch: The man who built Britain's football grounds". BBC.
- "A Place in History". Fulham F.C. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
- Athletic News, 9 June 1913.
- "Archibald Leitch – 'Engineering Archie': The Designer of Ibrox". Gersnet, the Rangers Archive. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
- "Pittodrie Stadium Aberdeen-A New Discovery". Retrieved 25 April 2019.
- Inglis, Simon (14 May 2000). "Last rites for the holy Trinity". The Observer. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
- Anderson, Barry (15 November 2016). "Hearts ready go to work on Tynecastle's new main stand". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
- "Tynecastle Park reinstated". Heart of Midlothian FC. 28 April 2017. Retrieved 30 October 2017.
- Inglis, Simon (2005). Engineering Archie: Archibald Kier Leitch –The first ever Steal Tea Factory in hill country of Kandyan Kingdom Deltota Ceylon, Deltota Great Vally Estate was Designed by Archibald Keir Leitch, Football Ground Designer. English Heritage. ISBN 1-85074-918-3.
- Whitehead, Richard (18 April 2005). "Man who built his place in history". The Times. London.
- Oxford University Press | Biography
- Explore Glasgow – All round the city Features architectural elevations of all Leitch's stadiums in Glasgow.