Room for more

This leaflet to advertisers was produced sometime in the early 1900’s when Aston Villa began to harness the revenue stream available to the club from track and perimeter advertising. It lists companies already renting spaces on the ground and, as can be seen from the wide cycle-track perimeter, there was considerable extra space for more potential advertisers.

Villa Park, built on a fishpond

This was the view from Aston Park in 1886, looking towards the houses on Witton Lane. The ornamental pool – once Dovehouse Pool – is now the site of the Villa Park pitch. Th scaffolding on the far side served as a mount for one of the Lower Ground’s giant tableaux.

source: Villa Park 100 Years by Simon Inglis

The Perry Barr Grand Stand

The most imposing structure ever built at Aston Villa’s Perry Barr ground was the Grand Stand, erected in mid-1887, shortly after Villa’s first ever FA Cup Final triumph, a 2-0 win over West Bromwich at the Oval in 1887.

In order to raise the cash Villa set up a Pavillion Fund. This more than paid for the £383 costs of the construction, and guaranteed each individual subscriber a seat.

The stand itself measured some 30 yards long and was designed by Daniel Arkell, a local architect who had, that same year, finished a much grander edifice, the Victoria Hall on Victoria Road (now an Islamic study centre). Arkell advised the Villa for several years while they were at Perry Barr, and was later disappointed when the club chose another architect for the club’s new home at the Lower Grounds. But in 1887 his neatly embellished Grand Stand was quite the most handsome stand in the Midlands.

Its proud opening took place before a representative match, Birmingham & District v Lancashire, on October 22, 1887, watched by 11,000. Deemed by the Birmingham Daily Gazette to be ‘in every respect admirable,’ the new stand had nine rows of seats, accommodating 700-800 spectators (who had to peer past no fewer than 14 slender columns), with a ‘reserve promenande of ashes’ along the front. The flat area, together with two sets of old wooden terraces placed on either side of the stand, held up to 1,500 spectators.

As surviving etchings show, the stand was chiefly characterised by a central pedimented roof gable, on the front of which was a clock donated by a Mr Wray of New Street. Above the gable flew a large pennant-style flag with the intials AVFC. The ridge of the roof was lined by decorative ironwork.

• source: Simon Inglis, Villa Park, 100 Years

Grandstand prices

From The Athletic News, Tuesday, January 10, 1888

Mr D. Arkell, architect, who designed the splendid grand stand at Perry Barr, had the disposal of over 600 reserve tickets for last Saturday’s great match [against Preston North End], and by Friday eveining every one was sold. Of these, 200 were disposed of at 10s. each, and the remainder at 5s.. so that he will have a handsome sum to hand over. The applications for these tickets were from all over the kingdom, among the places represented being Northumberland, Nottingham, Shropshire, Lancashire, Cheltenham, and Leicester. Seven very favourably situated seats went for £5, or nearl 15s. each.

According to the National Office of Statistics, £1 in 1888 is equivalent in purchasing power to about £130.83 in 2020.

In the beginning…

This undated sketch shows a north-westerly view of the evirons of Villa Park, as they might have appeared in the late 18th century. On the left, Aston Hall occupies the so-called ‘upper grounds’, now Aston Park. From Aston Church, two roads fork on either side of Dovehouse Pool (where the Villa Park pitch now lies), forming the triangular area known as the ‘lower grounds’. The road to the right (or east) of Dovehouse Pool, Witton Lane, is marked as such on maps of the 18th century, whereas the road on the left, Trinity Road, was strictly speaking not laid out formally until the 1860s.

source: Villa Park 100 Years, by Simon Inglis