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Old Trafford

Manchester United


Self-inspired Piece

Completed 2009

Model Size : 1097mm x 1037mm

Scale : 1:220   Circa 2008

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 and is no other model like it that exist today. 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.


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. This was a 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.


Brief Stadium History

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 stadiums maximum capacity was 80,000 and was designed by the Scottish architect Archibald Leitch. The original Leitch South Stand was replaced in 1930 with 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 re open until 1949. The stadium had been rebuilt to the same specification as it was before the war. A roof-post design  was put over the Stratford End in the early 1950’s, but by this time there was a lot of obstructed views.


In the mid sixties the club decided to re-develop the North and South Stands 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 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 90’s as a result of the Taylor report, Old Trafford was turned into a all-seater stadium. This meant that the famous Stratford End behind the West goal could have its cantilever roof and the mater plan could now be completed. This, of course, meant the capacity would drop to 44,000 now being a all-seater stadium.


Over the next fourteen years Old Trafford would have £114 million spent on it bringing it up to the current capacity. 1995-96 saw the construction on 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 the largest cantilever roof in Europe. In January 2000 a £30 million redevelopment saw the upper decks of the East and West Stands 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 side of the stadium. This brings the current capacity of Old Trafford to 76,211.

The Model

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


Like all my models, I like to focus on the stadium itself and not to much on the surrounding areas, however, there a railway line with a supporters platform directly behind the South Stand, Sir Matt Busby Way behind the East Stand and a canal cutting in behind the North Stand that will all have to be incorporated. 

How the model was made

I began researching and studying as many aerial 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. 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 first thing I do with all my models is to put in a rough pitch guide. This is replaced later with a finished pitch.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. 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 up to executive box level, and continued this all the way around the stadium. I cut in 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.


The seats are carved in blocks and not individually at this scale. This is a process of joining materials together and painstakingly sculpting to form the desired effect.


With the lower bowl of the stadium now in place, I then built the North, East and West Stand upper decks and their supports, then added their seating in the same way. I added both corner quadrants with their seating. Then cut all the vomitory holes; these are the point of entry and exit inside the stadium to the spectators' seats. Then the seats are painted first using a undercoat then a top coat.


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 leaving the detail till later. Once proportioned I started thinking about the land surrounding the stadium.


The land surrounding the stadium 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.


The Pitch

I installed the finished pitch, which is fabric based and mounted on wood platform, then a light layer of water based paint applied. The goal post are removable and the nets are made from a very fine nylon mesh.


Roof Structure

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 separate 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 plastic material 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 thread for added strength as this is a big roof and totally supported from the back. I strengthened this structure with diagonal rods made of nylon cut precisely to size and glued into place.


The East Stand, West Stand and quadrant roofs were made in a similar way but used plastikard (sheet polystyrene) rods in a variation of dimensions for the cantilever trusses.


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 plastikard bracings again cut precisely 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 vomitories, all 111 of them. These are made from 1mm plastikard and are all cut using a scalpel. Fascia boards were then printed and installed.


I sculpted the railway lines using modelling clay and  a self-made template and formed the station platform and grass banks behind the South Stand. The canal behind the North Stand is made from 6mm glass and clay is used again to shape the banks.


Next the turnstile signage were printed and cut in. It required a second 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 glazing was installed 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 turnstile signage and human figures, have been completely made by hand.  


Materials used

A wide range of materials have been used to create this model. Most being sculpted and formed to the desired effect. A selection of hardwoods used for the main structure.

Plastics and metals for the roofs, corrugated by hand. The roof trusses have mainly used selected plastics but also some metals. Modelling clay used to form the railway and canal banks. Even glass has been incorporated in this model.



It has been an massive education building this piece. There is no manual showing how to do it and what materials to use. I’ve had to learn and problem solve. This is a solid model built to last through generations. Although I have no affiliation with the club, I’m very proud of this piece, and hope you enjoy it as much as i’ve enjoyed the challenge.

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