Hearts in 50 objects: No.1 – 1939 stadium blueprint

The plans for a new stadium at Saughton Mains
The plans for a new stadium at Saughton Mains
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In 1939, Hearts commissioned architects to draw up plans for a new stadium to be built at nearby Saughton Mains.

Club officials were considering moving away from Gorgie due to the restricted space in the area, which prevented them expanding the ground. In many ways, this was similar to recent years when the club’s home venue and its long-term future have been cause for much debate.

Thankfully, the Hearts board ultimately chose to stay put and, at this very moment, their successors are in the process of building a new £12 million main stand on the original site to properly complete Tynecastle Park.

The plans were for a traditional oval bowl-shaped ground with greater capacity, better car-parking facilities and a separate training pitch for the Hearts players.

The hand-drawn image shows a main stand which would have had 10,000 seats, plus room for a further 10,000 fans in an enclosure just in front. The rest of the terracing would have circulated the pitch, although it is not clear what the total capacity would have been.

There is also detail of a training pitch in the top left, which was to be used as a car park for 570 vehicles on matchdays. Another car park on the other side of the ground was to take 2200 cars.

It is believed this area is between what is now Saughton Road North and Saughton Mains Street. It is now heavily populated by houses but, back in 1939, was spare land which Hearts felt would make an ideal home venue.

The plan at the time was to move Hearts out of Gorgie but only enough to secure enough land and space to build what they wanted. These plans never came to fruition, of course, but they are retained as a remnant of the club’s history, as well as a glimpse of what might have been for supporters.

Subsequent years would show that moving away from the club’s spiritual home was never far from discussion in the corridors of power at Tynecastle. Former chairman Wallace Mercer famously planned to take Hearts out to Straiton on Edinburgh’s outskirts in the 1990s, but was foiled by greenbelt restrictions. Millerhill was also looked at.

In 2004, Mercer’s successor, Chris Robinson, had agreed a deal with property developer Cala Homes to sell Tynecastle and the land it stood on. His intention was to relocate to Murrayfield Stadium, the home of Scottish Rugby, on the other side of the Western Approach Road.

After a vociferous backlash from fans, including the Save Our Hearts group forming to oppose Robinson, the plans were shelved when Vladimir Romanov bought his shareholding and pledged to keep Hearts at Tynecastle.

Fast forward to 2017 and Hearts are aiming to have Tynecastle’s new bespoke main stand finished and open in early September. It will take stadium capacity up to just more than the 20,000 mark and give a finished look to the ground after its other three stands were built in the 1990s.

The new main stand will have hospitality suites, a roof terrace, large modern dressing-rooms and a media centre to cope with the demands of a modern-day football club.

• See more great items from Hearts’ history at the club’s museum. For opening times, go to www.heartsfc.co.uk/pages/museum

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