The history of Hearts is a story that many in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland are familiar with, from the club taking its name from the Old Tolbooth (tax-house) of Edinburgh to the first kick of the ball at East Meadows. While there can be no doubt that the history of Heart of Midlothian is long and illustrious, Hearts fans also take pride in the history of their spiritual home, Tynecastle.
While league and cup winning sides have come and gone, Tynecastle is part of the history and very foundations of all that Hearts stand for. But how much of it do you know? Here’s just a very brief look at the stadium that Hearts fans across the world hold so dear.
Although there can be no doubt about the spiritual home of the Jam Tarts, the club were not actually on the site of the current ground until 1886. The club initially used the Edinburgh Association Ground at Powburn, off West Savile Road, before securing space in an area of land that was being leased by the Edinburgh Corporation for housing and industry. The initial cost of laying the pitch was just £200 and in 1886 over 5.000 fans attended the opening game at Tynecastle on April 10 which saw Hearts beat Bolton 4-1,
With record victories and the success that followed, Hearts began to work on Tynecastle expanding the capacity of the stadium to 10,000. Two wooden stands were erected next to each other on the McLeod Street Side of the ground separated by an entrance tunnel. As well as a running track, a new area to watch the game was added.
A Scottish Cup win in 1890 allowed the club to add to their stadium with a new clubhouse and facilities. In 1891 the first press box was constructed with the South Stand also getting a roof a year later. This led fans to aptly call the stand ‘The Covered Stand.
In the Championship winning season of 1894-5, The Edinburgh Evening News installed the first telephone on the ground.
1896 saw a banked running track added to provide a cycle raceway and allow more supporters entrance. The cinder banking on which most of the spectators stood was also built up with crush barriers and advertising hoarding added to the ground. 1901 saw the North Stand of the ground replaced by a covered structure with a standing enclosure. The cost of the entire construction was just under £650. The first turnstiles were added to the ground with the Gorgie Road and McLeod Street entrances adding turnstiles. Terracing was also brought into the ground.
With further success and popularity, in 1903: Hearts built a new stand, pavilion and press box, joining the North Stand to the South Stand. Three years later, the ground would be further enlarged by the lowering of the banking around the pitch and the removal of a cycling track.
1908 saw the introduction of the half-time score board and the arrival of the first regular club programme. Tynecastle School was built just behind the site after the North Embankment was sold by the club to the School Board. ‘The Iron Stand’ a closed enclosure was built a year later. Holding over 4,000 fans.
After securing a 19-year lease for the ground, Archibald Leitch, was commissioned to design a new Main Stand for the club to deal with demand and to modernise the ground. These plans were submitted with the new stand opening in October 1914. Reports indicate that the final cost of the Main Stand was over £12,000 and if football been suspended due to the war, Heart of Midlothian may not have survived.
After the Great War, Hearts saw a drastic rise in their attendances. Tynecastle was bought for just £5,000 in a deal that meant football must be played on the site. A year later, following criticism of overcrowding, work began to expand Tynecastle Over four years from 1926-28, full terracing was added to the banking and the Iron Stand was demolished. In 1927, Tynecastle saw the first BBC radio broadcast from the ground. Three years later, PA systems were introduced.
For the next few years Hearts struggled to gain permission to expand or work on the ground. In 1936 planned expansion to Tynecastle was vetoed after the Education Committee deemed that roofing the ‘School end’ of the ground would block light coming to classrooms. Plans for a new super ground at Saughton Mains were also delayed due to the consideration of a new stadium being created for the Empire Games. All plans to expand or move to a new location were postponed in 1939 due to the outbreak of World War II.
Following the conflict, Hearts spent £1,400 improving safety in the ground with new crush barriers and seats added to the stand. New drainage systems were added to the pitch and work was carried out to repair the ground. This eventually led to the concreting of the terraces in 1951. As a result, Tynecastle was the first concreted stadium in Scotland.
Expansion to the ground finally got under way once more in 1959: A covered enclosure for 15,000 spectators was built on the distillery side at a cost of £23,000. Two more score boards were also added. In 1970, a shop was opened at the ground.
The passing of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act led to significant work being carried out at Tynecastle in the 1970s. The club spent £100,000 to ensure that a Safety Certificate was granted. Terraces were sectioned off and fenced with additional barriers placed around the ground.
In the summer of 1994 the Wheatfield Stand was built adding 5,902 seats and providing new floodlight gantries and the main television platform. This work was followed up by the construction of the Roseburn Stand adding another 3,676 seats. The Gorgie Stand was completed in September 1997 and led to an additional 3,300 seats and a new Hearts store.
2005 saw new plans produced for a new Main Stand that could take the capacity of the stadium up to 25,000. 280 seats were moved from the front of the Gorgie and Roseburn Stands to allow the length of the playing pitch to be expanded to meet UEFA Cup requirements. Currently, Tynecastle is having work carried out on a new stand as Hearts look to maintain their stay in their spiritual home.