Opened in 1886, the National Agricultural Hall was built with the aim of creating the UK’s largest covered show centre. It quickly changed it’s name and in 1886 it was renamed Olympia. The structure was created using a 1200 tonne frame made of iron and 2500 sheets of quarter inch thick glass. You’d think a building that’s 115ft high and made of glass might be a little flimsy, however in the ‘great storm’ of 1987 the only thing damaged by the wind was a small ventilation hatch!
The first show to be held at the newly named Olympia was the Hippodrome Circus in 1886/7. This was closely followed by ‘An Exhibition of Sporting Dogs’ by the eponymous Mr Charles Cruft as well as equestrian and other sporting events. On June 4th 1888 The Irish Exhibition opened, displaying a reflection of Irish life, industry and work. Then, in 1889, Phineas T.Barnum’s ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ came to London, with the Olympia chosen as the location. 1908 saw the very first Ideal Home show!
During World War One the entire space was requisitioned for use as a temporary internment camp for German nationals and other ‘potential hostile aliens’. This enormous space then spent the rest of the war serving as an army clothing store. Prior to World War Two in 1934, the venue hosted the Blackshirt rally of Oswald Mosely’s British Union of Fascists.
Olympia was then taken over by the army a second time in January 1940, reviving it’s role as a prison camp for the second time. In May and June of 1940 General Charles de Gaulle used it as his assembly point for the ‘French Free Army’. It was damaged by bombs six times during the war with Addison Road station being completely destroyed. Then was rebuilt in 1946 and renamed ‘Kensington Olympia’.
In the 195o’s annual shows became popular with a food fair and hotel and catering exhibition as well as the 1953 Motor Show which was so popular the police instructed the promoters to open the show early as the queues were so long! Jimmi Hendrix and a little known band called The Pink Floyd played in the 1960’s as well as the continuation of Crufts.
The 1970’s saw Lord Sterling take ownership of both Earls Court and Olympia to form Earls Court and Olympia Ltd (EC&O Ltd). The rest of the 20th century saw all manner of shows including a Bedouin reenactment where Saudi Arabia shipped in tonnes of sand to cover the floor. The venue also began to host opera, with The Times reporting that it “made the Royal Albert Hall look like a studio theatre’.
Whatever the event or occasion we at Sussex Transport over the years have had a massive
involvement in assisting our clients with transporting their products in and out of both Earls Court and Olympia… whether their transport requirements have been for a small van or an articulated vehicle we never disappoint and always have the vehicle to suit… we can plan your transport for you from start to finish and can eliminate any logistical concerns you may have… we integrate seamlessly into your business and make it happen which leaves you to concentrate on what you do best.
So if you or anybody you know are looking to source a dedicated transport provider for your Olympia events then we would like to put ourselves and our team of experts forward… Call us now on 0800 915 23 23 and speak to one of our Operations team or fill in one of our contact forms and we will get straight back to you….