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Highbury: from start to end with previously unseen pictures of the end of the stadium.

Photographs by Richard Smith, text by Tony Attwood; AISA Arsenal History Society.

Arsenal’s move to Highbury has been covered in detail on this site – but I am returning to this topic now and pulling the articles we have published on this together because a member of Arsenal Independent Supporters’ Association has just made available a unique, and previously unpublished, set of photos showing the end of Highbury as a football ground.

The pictures taken from our colleague’s nearby house represent an extraordinary record of the demolition of the ground that had been home to the club from 1913.  The link to the portfolio of photographs is given at the end, but first, in the hope that you have a moment to spare, here is a quick run down of the articles that relate to the move to Highbury, that we have published as part of the on-going series on Henry Norris at the Arsenal.  Sadly we don’t have pictures of the evolution of the ground to which we have the copyright, but I think this is the most complete record there is of the way the move to Highbury took place and indeed some new analyses as to why Norris chose Highbury.

I have added a few brief notes on particular issues that are covered in some of the articles, particularly where they involve findings that have added to or even overturned previous standard histories of the club.

But as I say, if you are here to see the previously unseen pictures of the end of Highbury just scroll down to the end.

1912

With Woolwich Arsenal’s first chairman now returned to the club to work alongside Henry Norris, Arsenal prepared the groundwork for the move by having a director elected onto the Football League’s most important committee.

Why exactly did Arsenal decide on Highbury as opposed to anywhere else?  I’m not sure that any of the many previous articles on this subject have fully answered the question, largely because they have focused on one issue: the transport problems related to Plumstead.   There was something much more important than that in Henry Norris’ mind at the time.

And protests were there many, but Henry Norris had planned the move well, and knew that while Clapton Orient, Tottenham Hotspur and the local gentry didn’t want Arsenal on their land, the local shopkeepers, tradesmen, restaurants, transport companies and public houses most certainly did.

The match fixing saga that dominated the football headlines in 1915 and which was ultimately a significant element in Arsenal’s election to the first division in 1919 actually began at the end of the 1911/12 season, a factor that is missed from the histories of the period.

1913

Persuading a religious foundation to allow its grounds to be used for, of all things, football.

This article includes extracts from the first programme produced for a Highbury match as well as what I think is the first ever analysis of the crowds in the final season at Plumstead.

Continuing with the theme of the crowds this piece shows just how huge a boost the move to north London gave Arsenal in terms of income, despite the club now playing in the second division.

Arsenal’s last season at Highbury was famously played in redcurrent shirts.  But did Arsenal ever play in redcurrent at Highbury in 1913?  It seems not.

1914

The ground had been built in an enormous rush and as the article on Highbury opening shows, it simply wasn’t ready for the first match – although that match was indeed played at Highbury.  But then one of the walls fell down.


On to the end of Arsenal at Highbury

Our current series of articles on Henry Norris at the Arsenal, continues with one being published every two or three days, and at the moment of writing this (24 October 2017) we have reached May 1917.

But now let us leap forwards to the end of Highbury.

What follows is a collection of photos offered to the AISA Arsenal History Society by Richard Smith, a committee member of AISA.

This unique collection demolition of Highbury, taken as stills from Richard’s back window in Highbury Hill.  Here it is

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9peugPafIY

On behalf of AISA, and indeed of all Arsenal fans who are interested in the history of our club I’d like to thank Richard for making this unique collection available.


Details of the many series of articles that have been published on this site concerning Arsenal’s history are given on the site’s home page.

If you would like to know more about Arsenal Independent Supporters Association, and indeed if you would like to join AISA, there are full details here.

 

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