Secrets Of Olympia London And One Fake Fact

By Sponsor Last edited 25 months ago
Secrets Of Olympia London And One Fake Fact

This is a sponsored article created in partnership with Olympia London.

Olympia London back in the early days.

Next year sees the 130th anniversary of Olympia London, the colossal exhibition centre that towers over Kensington. It’s just as impressive inside with the 250ft long Grand Hall being a single span of filigree ironwork and glass that stretches over your head and makes you feel like you’ve stepped inside the skeleton of a blue whale.

Alongside the jaw-dropping Victorian architecture, this place has as weird and interesting a history as any building in London. We’ve picked out some of the more curious historical tidbits for you here — with the addition of one nugget we’ve invented. See if you can spot the red herring:

  • Olympia London opened its doors to the public on Boxing Day 1886 when people flocked to see the Hippodrome Circus featuring 400 performers, 300 horses and six ‘funny’ elephants.
  • The venue is the site of the UK's first multi-storey car park and the Pillar Hall is rumoured to be the first film screening venue.
  • The Ideal Home Show was first held at Olympia London in 1908 but only returned to the venue last year following a 38 year absence.
  • Olympia London has hosted a gaggle of rock concerts including Jimi Hendrix, The Cure, Rod Stewart, The Animals and Pink Floyd.
  • The traffic team were recently given a gold award by Vernon Kay for their work directing thousands of cars to the venue each day and co-ordinating things like the 32,0000 deliveries which arrive for the antiques show.
  • Olympia London was built on top of a vineyard: the site in Hammersmith Road was being the famous Vineyard Nursery established in 1745 by James Lee and Lewis Kennedy.
  • Fiery Irish socialite Joan Grubb caused controversy by being the first woman to ride astride a horse in the gentlemen’s style — rather than side saddle — during the Olympia London International Horse Show prior to the first world war.
  • The iconic arch of Olympia London was a result of the architect, Henry Edward Coe’s fascination with rainbows.
  • The most recent painting of Olympia London took 20 decorators 42 days and used 18,000 litres of paint.
  • Wonder Woman, who was born in Olympus, made a pilgrimage to Olympia London for the London Film and Comic Con, a nerdtastic event held in the building in 2012 and 2015.

To find out which one of the facts above is fake, scroll down beneath the picture gallery.

Inside the Grand Hall.
Royals arrving to watch the Horse Show in 1934.
The ultimate Christmas party - Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Animals, Pink Floyd all playing on the same bill in Olympia London.
The Ideal Home Exhibition 1937.
Crufts 1967.
Motor Exhibition 1905.
Woman's Exhibition 1922.
Cleaning windows in the early 1950s.

Answer: The iconic arch of Olympia London was a result of the architect, Henry Edward Coe’s fascination with rainbows (not useful in pub quizzes — we darn well made it up).

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Last Updated 07 January 2016


Many years ago I used to go with my Mum and Dad to the Ideal Home Show every year. As a kid I could never figure out how they built the show houses in there. My Dad also attended the Motor Show every year as he was in the trade, but I never got to go to that (sad face).


Wikipedia says the last show at Olympia was in 1978. If it returned last year, that's a gap of only 36 years. So the 38-year gap is a fake and therefore the story about Coe and rainbows is true. Cool, I must tell everyone.

Adam White

I believe Wonder Woman was born on Paradise Island.