Stamford Bridge is one of the oldest football grounds in the country and has been the home of Chelsea Football Club since our formation in 1905.
Stamford Bridge opened as a sporting arena on 28 April 1877. For the first 27 years of its existence it was used almost exclusively for the traditionally popular Victorian pursuit of athletics meetings by the London Athletic Club.
In 1904 the ownership of the modest ground changed hands when Mr Henry Ausgustus (Gus) Mears and his brother, Mr J T Mears, obtained the deeds, having previously acquired additional land (formerly a large market garden) with the aim of hosting a newer sport they had fallen in love with – football – which had swept the north of England and the Midlands and was growing in interest rapidly in the capital city.
The new arena they commissioned on the 12.5 acre site was designed by renowned Scottish football stadium architect Archibald Leitch (as were many others across the land) and included a characteristic feature of his work in the 120-yard long stand on the east side to hold 5000 spectators, complete with a pedimented centre gable on the roof
After its creation, the stadium remained largely unchanged in appearance until the 1930s when the southern terrace gained a partial covering – a curious structure which would later lead to the nickname the ‘Shed End’.
Ironically, for a name that would become famous in football, the asymmetrical roofing was erected for another sport. Covering roughly a fifth of the terrace area, and designed by the original Stamford Bridge architect Archibald Leitch, it was commissioned by the Greyhound Racing Association who for many decades held dog races on the track that enclosed the pitch. They wanted cover for the bookmakers and their betting customers.
Some 30 years after the structure’s appearance, a letter published in the Chelsea matchday programme from supporter Cliff Webb called for the Fulham Road End of the ground to be known as ‘The Shed’, and for more fans to join a vocal gathering there in order to rival the home end support at other grounds. His requests bore fruit and the stand at the south end which opened to replace the old terrace in 1997 still bears the Shed name today.