Don’t Stand So Close

After posting the last photographs of the old Sealand Road ground I was provided with some more superb photos of the Stadium by Fraser Warburton. There are plenty of photos of the main stand being demolished but it’s rare to see pictures of its construction behind the old wooden stand.

Building work started on the new stand towards the end of the 1978/79 season and Fraser’s three photographs were taken in May 1979 after the final home game against Sheffield Wednesday. In the short term the method of construction proved beneficial as it allowed the ground to remain fully functional but when the wooden stand was demolished it created an awful no-mans land which destroyed the character of the ground. The overall appearance was hardly helped by the chicken wire fence erected parallel to the touchline in front of the stand.

The first photo is one of the best pictures I have seen and was taken from the corner by the open Kop end.  It shows the east wing still in place in front of the new structure.

The second photo is a closer view of the new construction taken at the same time as the first picture.

The next picture is actually taken from the Cheshire Observer and although the quality is not particularly good I thought it was interesting because it was obviously taken after the first two photographs but before the final one. It shows the west wing of the wooden stand (nearest the Sealand Road End) was the first section to be demolished.

Fraser’s final picture shows that demolition had progressed slightly and most of the west wing had been cleared but the metal struts holding up the roof were still in place as was the metal crossbeam following the old roof line. In addition the new stand roof had now been erected.

It’s interesting to see the edge of the central section of the wooden stand which was in place 10 years before the wing extension was built. This marked the end of the original stand which was the only seating available in the 1920s when Chester played in the Cheshire County League. The west wing was the first of the extensions to be built, in 1931, with the east wing added a few months later in time for Chester’s entry into the Football League. The banner photograph for this website shows work being completed on the second wing.

The final picture is taken from the Chester v Walsall League Cup programme, the first game in front of the new stand. It was taken 12 days before the start of the season. By now the old stand had been completely removed but there was still a certain amount of work that needed completing and very few seats were in place.

Once again if anyone has memories of the construction of the new stand I would be interested to hear from them. Even better, I would be fascinated to see any more pictures.

I will be adding more photos of the ground in future blogs but I have a long list of things I want to cover so I’ve no idea when this will happen.

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