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Rushton excavator at work near Wembley Park steel tower

Rushton excavator at work near Wembley Park steel tower

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L3408. In the foreground of this photograph a Rushton excavator is at work near Wembley Park. The cutting eventually housed a quadruple track which was part of the Great Central's link between Northolt junction (where the Joint Line diverged) and Marylebone station.
The large steel tower seen in the background is the first stage of an ambitious project undertaken by Edward Watkin. During a visit to Paris in 1889, he saw the newly constructed Eiffel Tower, and was inspired to build an even grander structure on land he owned in Wembley Park. Watkin wasted no time in setting up the Metropolitan Tower Construction Company, and held a world-wide architectural competition, inviting designs for his pet project. The winners were Stewart, MacLaren and Dunn who proposed a 1200 ft (compared to the 849ft of the Eiffel Tower) high, 8 legged steel structure. It would have 2 platforms, and a small area at the top on which there would be restaurants, theatres, dancing rooms, exhibitions and Turkish Baths. However, the project was blighted by building difficulties, not least due to the marshy ground on which the tower had been constructed, which caused movement of the foundations. It was doomed never to progress beyond this first stage shown in the photograph, despite the down-scaling of plans to a cheaper, 4-legged building. This first stage of the tower was eventually opened to members of the public in 1896, by which time pleasure gardens had been created around it. Sadly, in the year that this photograph was taken, the tower was declared unsafe - the Metropolitan Tower Company had gone into liquidation and maintenance had been neglected. Levels of visitors had dramatically tailed off, and the steel tower for which Watkin had held such ambitious plans - now dubbed 'Watkin's Folly' was demolished in 1904. Wembley Stadium now stands in its place.
PublisherLeicestershire County Council
Contributor
Creatorpersonalname - Newton, S. W. A.
Date
TypePhotographs - Black and White
Formatdimension.H - 160 mm
IdentifierNewton - 119/1
SourceS. W. A. Newton Collection - Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland
LanguageEN
Relationcopy of - S. W. A. Newton Collection
derived from - glass plate negative
CoverageLocation.Creation Site - Wembley, Middlesex (O.S. Ref: 519000 185300)
Location.Current Repository - Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland
point - 1902-05-21
RightsLeicestershire County Council