Layer Road Stadium

Colchester, England, UK

Closed 2008, demolished 2012

The Disappointed Tourist: Layer Road Stadium, Ellen Harvey, 2021. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

Layer Road was a Football League stadium that was the home of Colchester United Football Club for 71 years, before being replaced by the Colchester Community Stadium. The last match was played in 2008 after 98 years of use and the stadium was demolished in 2012 with residential housing being built on the site. A statue of Peter Wright (Colchester United’s Player of the Century) by Mandy Pratt was installed on the site in 2015 to commemorate its history. I don’t know where the photograph came from on which I based this painting.

I was first taken to Layer Road by my parents who were both Colchester United season ticket holders. This must have been in the early ’60s. The ground was never what you would call glamorous. Behind one goal the terracing was made of wooden planks, and the roof of the Main Stand was so old that every time a ball hit it those sitting in that area took evasive action, shouting out “Rust!” The sightlines were terrible, and there was only one female toilet! But on the rare occasions that the place was packed, the atmosphere was unforgettable – something sorely lacking at the somewhat cold and sterile ‘Community Stadium’ that replaced it. Nick St. G.