Archibald Leitch & Partners, 1926-29, addition of upper deck by Gareth Hutchison 1989-1990. Three-storey, and with later 4th storey, 25-bay, rectangular plan Renaissance Revival football stand with segmental-headed arcade to ground floor and distinctive tall round-headed keystoned window openings to 2nd floor. Red brick; metal framework. String courses and eaves cornice. Parapets over advanced central bay and end bays. Plain pilasters between each bay rising from string course to eaves cornice.
Entrance in central bay with engaged columns and pilasters carrying lintel and mutule cornice above. Balustrade and 4 light windows under large round arch at 2nd floor. Flanking bays with pedimented square-headed windows; similar arrangement in end pavilions with bi-partite pedimented windows. Mosaic shields with lion rampant on return elevations, inscribed '1872 Ready 1928' at W and '1972 Ready 1981' at E. Central parapet with faience panel inscribed 'Rangers FC'.
Metal framed small pane glazing to 1926-29 part.
INTERIOR: timber and leaded glass two-leaf central door to lobby with similarly detailed doors to right and left. 'RFC' in floor mosaic. Simple plaster cornices and timber panelling in most principal areas, some original light fittings etched with 'RFC'. Period staircase with decorative metal panels and timber handrail and newel posts. Blue Room with deeply moulded classically inspired cornice and timber-panelling to picture rail height, timber and marble chimneypiece. Corniced door to Director's room. Boot room with numbered hooks; tiled players' bathing room.
Statement of Special Interest
The Main Stand at Ibrox opened on the 1st January 1929. It is important as it is one of the very few remaining relatively little altered football stands of the early 20th century. The classical exterior elevation was formerly used as the main entrance to the stadium and continues to make an significant contribution to the streetscape. Designed by the leading architect of football stadia at the time, Archibald Leitch (1865-1939), the stand was built with seating rather than terraces.
There are very few early surviving buildings associated with football. This is in some part due to the recommendations of the Taylor Report following the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 which resulted in the banning of standing terraces at all major football stadiums. However, well before the Hillsborough disaster Ibrox had already implemented many of the safety features noted in the Taylor Report because of previous accidents at the ground.
Leitch rose to fame as the premier architect of football stands in Britain at a time when the sport gained enormously in popularity in the early decades of the 20th century. He was responsible for stands at many of the most famous clubs including Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Heart of Midlothian, but in fact his stadium career began with the stands for Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox. The first stand at Ibrox was built of timber on an iron frame between 1899 and 1902. However on 5 April 1902 the west terracing collapsed causing the death of 26 people, an event witnessed by Leitch. This incident led to the ban on wooden scaffold type terraces and the substitution of earth banking, the designs for which were largely developed by Leitch as were crush barriers and radial gangway routings.
Despite the accident, Leitch was employed by Rangers as their architect for the next 30 years and most significantly in 1926-29 to build the new south stand. The design of the exterior although simple is well detailed. It has much in common with contemporary commercial and industrial architecture such as that by James Miller combining a pared-down modern style with classical details. It bears a number of Leitch's trademarks in the keystoned windows, small pane glazing and tall pilasters
The historical importance of Ibrox's Main Stand also lies in the fact that from its opening in 1929 until the 1970s it was the second largest stand in Britain, second only to the stand at Hampden Park (now replaced), which Leitch extended in 1927-36, and the largest he designed from scratch.
Ibrox has been the home of the Rangers Football Club since 1887. The Club was formed in 1872 and initially played on Glasgow Green. After playing on pitches in different parts of Glasgow, the club first moved to a piece of ground to the east of the present stand in 1887. Ibrox Park, as it was known between 1899 and 1997 is almost completely different to the Ibrox Stadium of today. It followed the model of most Scottish stadiums of the time, comprising an oval track around the pitch, with a pavilion and one stand along one side. The ground had a capacity of 40,000.
Perhaps more than any other sport, football is a quintessential part of Scotland's social and cultural life. Thousands of fans flock to games and move through the turnstiles every week. References to the sport in historical records date from 1424, however the game expanded rapidly in Scotland from the mid 19th century onwards with the availability of more social leisure time and due to changes in competition and rule making. The establishment of professionalism to standardise the varying forms of the game of football in 1893 gave us the modern game we know today.
In 1903, Scotland became the first country in the world to have a national stadium built at Hampden Park in Glasgow. It was the largest in size and capacity in the world at the time, and the first ever football stadium recorded to have been built of brick. Along with the other local large stadiums of Celtic Park and Ibrox, by 1904 Glasgow could also claim to have the largest stadia in the world.
List description updated as part of the sporting buildings thematic study (2012-13).