Old Trafford Model 

Known as the 'Theatre Of Dreams' Old Trafford  is one of the great arenas of the modern day. It is the home of one of the biggest clubs in the world.

This beautifully hand crafted model was completed in September 2009, taking an estimated 3000 man hours to research and build. It is built to a scale of 1:220. It is totally hand made with no machined parts. This model was on display at the Manchester United Museum  and was central to the 100 years of Old Trafford centenary celebration exhibition at the ground. This exhibition finished at the end of February 2011.

If you wish to commission a model, or would like to make an enquiry, please see the commissions page for contact details.


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I first visited in 2004 to look into the possibility of building a model of this stadium, although I knew it was big I was still taken aback by its size. It was difficult to focus on any one thing, your eye would be distracted almost straight away by something else and your attention would shift. The sea of red seats when entering the stadium was almost blinding. This was an awe-inspiring arena and having visited four football grounds on my trip, it really put Old Trafford into perspective. I was looking for a new challenge and found it, I had to build this model.

Old Trafford was built in 1909, for the then huge sum of £60,000. It was terraced on three sides with a covered seated main South Stand. The stadium's maximum capacity was 80,000 and was designed by the Scottish architect Archibald Leitch. The original Leitch South Stand roof was replaced in 1930 with the corners also being covered. A partial roof was also added to the north terrace. The stadium was heavily damaged in World War II and didn't reopen until1949. The stadium had been re-built to the same specification  as it was before the war. A roof-post design was put over the Stretford  End in the early 1950's, but by this time there were a lot of obstructed views. In the mid-sixties the club decided to re-develop the North Stand and South Stand with a modern cantilever roof. This new design had a standing terrace at the front with a larger seated section behind. It was the master plan to have the cantilever roof design covering all of the stadium. Old Trafford was also a venue used for the 1966 World Cup hosting three matches. The 1960's,70's and 80's saw the club repeatedly pack in around 58,000 into Old Trafford and it also became the first ground to erect perimeter fences in 1970 to combat crowd disturbances. In the early nineties, as result of the Taylor report, Old Trafford was turned into an all-seater stadium. This meant that the famous Stretford End behind the west goal could now have its cantilever roof and the master plan could now be completed. This, of course, meant the capacity would drop to 44,000 now being an all-seater stadium. Over the next fourteen years Old Trafford would have £114 million spent on it bringing it up to current capacity. 1995-96 saw the construction of the gigantic  three tiered North Stand, holding nearly 26,000, this massive structure towers over the pitch at 200 feet tall. It cost £19 million (plus £9 million to buy the land) and has the largest cantilever roof in Europe. In January 2000 a £30 million redevelopment saw the upper decks on both the East Stand and West Stand go up. This would take the capacity to 68,217.  The final development, in 2005, saw the North East and North West Quadrants  built, at a cost of £45 million, restoring the bowl effect to three sides of the stadium. This brings the current capacity of Old Trafford to 76,211. 

This is an historical building which has undergone extensive modernisation in recent times,  at every turn you are reminded of its past and current acheivements. Everything about this stadium is geared up for success.

Like all my models, I like to focus on the stadium itself and not too much on the surrounding areas, however, there's a railway line with a small station directly behind the South Stand, Sir Matt Busby Way behind the East Stand and a river cutting in behind the North Stand that will all have to be incorporated.  This is going to be a fair size model measuring 42.5x40 inches.  Selected woods are the main materials used to create the platform and main structure for the stands, while thin perspex has been modified  to form the roofs.The development of the new Quadrants at Old Trafford required a second visit to research these new areas and any new unforseen changes put the project on hold for a time. As you can see these new quadrants have now been incorporated into the model.

How the model was madeOT_South_roof_work
I began researching and studying as many aeriel images as I could find along with the photos I had taken on my visit in 2004. I needed to familiarise myself as much as possible with the stadium and also its history. Then I thought about sizing the piece. I decided to work in 1.220 scale and looking into how much of the surrounding area around the stadium I would need to incorporate: the finshed size would be about 4 ft square, which would be a good workable size by the time it was presented in a display case.
The first thing I do with all my models is to put a rough pitch guide in called a prop. This is replaced later with a finshed pitch and surround track.The model is built in sections and is easily dismantled, this is so I can  work easily on any part of the model at any time, and also allows the model to be transportable. The upper decks and both quadrants come out and all the roofs come off: every part of the stadium comes apart in sections so you're left with just the base with its pinewood surround.
I started with the inside of the stadium, first building the South Stand terrace up to executive box level, and continued this all the way around the stadium finishing in the south west corner. I incorporated the players' tunnel area in the south west corner, the disabled area in the south east corner and dugouts on the halfway line. This is the base for the whole stadium and has to be correct so this was more involved than it sounds. I worked out the degree of angle of each section of terrace. The South Stand has three different degrees of angle all joined  on one level and, being the main stand, houses some of the privileged seats and hospitality areas. The other three sides and four corners only have two degrees of angle. The seats are carved in blocks and not individually. With the bowl of the the stadium in place I then built the North Stand, East Stand and West Stand upper decks and their supports, then added their seating in the same way. I added both quadrant terraces with their seating and cut all the vomitary holes; these are the point of entry and exit inside the stadium to the spectators' seats. The seats are painted in a high gloss enamel paint.
I then started forming the outside of the stadium. Because Old Trafford has been rebuilt in stages, each side of the ground is different from the outside and it has very little uniformity. Gradually, I created the outside walls and columns from balsa wood leaving the first level of detail till later. Once proportioned I started thinking about the land surrounding the stadium.
The land is built in one piece using a wooden frame carved to the camber of the land with a separate section behind the South Stand to form the railway and platform area. Both these sections are screwed down to the base. Mounting card is then used to cover the entire frame. Next, I started putting in the first layer of detail to the back of the stands starting with the North Stand. Plastic sheets are corrugated and etched by a scalpel, cut to size and fitted, then painted. This is repeated all around the stadium. I installed the finished pitch, which is fabric based and mounted on balsa wood platform. The  goal post are removable and the nets are made from a very fine nylon mesh.
For the roof structures I had to do lots of experimentation to get these right. I wanted to stay clear of any photo-etching and build all the cantilever  trusses by hand. There are five seperate roofs to this model and all use a cantilever design, so they all have to support themselves individually. I started with the North Stand, using a clear perspex for the general surface area and achieved the corrugated effect with a scalpel, then painted the non-clear sections. A plastic coated wire was used for the basic cantilever structure using cotton threads as guide lines. I strengthend this structure with diagonal rods made of nylon cut precisley to size and glued into place. The East Stand, West Stand and quadrant roofs were made in a similar way but used different diameter rods. The South Stand roof was the hardest to make because the cantilever structure was a lot smaller in diameter. I used brass rods supported with plastic bracings again cut precisley to size and glued. Tweezers were used to to install over 700 individual pieces on this one roof. All the roof structure would take in excess of 350 man hours to complete.
Next I cut and installed the vomitaries, all 111 of them. These are made from 1mm plastic and are all cut using a scalpel. Fascia boards were then printed and installed.
I sculpted the railway lines using modelling clay and  formed the station platform and grass bank behind the South Stand. The canal behind the North Stand is made from 6mm glass and clay is used again to shape the banks.
The turnstiles were printed and cut in. It required another visit to Old Trafford to photograph all the turnstiles and out-buildings. All the turnstiles in this model have the correct signage printed, although they are very small and takes a keen eye to read them. There are also turnstiles housed under the North Stand, West Stand and quadrant areas with the same level of detail.
All the glass panelling was made for the East Stand and quadrant areas and these panels are removable.
All the main features were now made and fitted. It would take me several months to add all the fine detail such as the out-buildings, roads, bridges and tarmac areas, trees and foliage, car parks, signs and other fine detail. The vehicles are all hand-made and painted and people were added.
All of this model, except for the human and canine figures, has been completely made by hand.  

Materials used
A wide range of materials has been used to build this piece. Hardwoods, like balsa, have been used for the main structure, it's light, versatile and easy to work with. Plastics were used in many forms: 2mm clear thick sheets for the roof, 0.5mm to 1mm used in a lot of finishing surfaces. A range of nylon and brass  rods of varying diameters have been used for the cantilever trusses and many different types of paints have been used.

OT_North_canal_