The historic Anglesea Stand at the RDS in Dublin, from which spectators have witnessed the Dublin Horse Show since 1927, will soon be no more, writes Jack Burns.

For today (Wednesday) the Royal Dublin Society applied to Dublin City Council for planning permission for the redevelopment of the Anglesea Stand as part of the overall RDS Main Arena redevelopment.

RDS sources envisage that completion of the planning stage could take as long as 12 months before reconstruction starts, so it is likely that the old Angelsea Stand will witness one more Aga Khan trophy competition before the new stand is erected sometime in 2018, all other things being equal.

Speaking about today’s application for planning permission, Michael Duffy, CEO of the RDS, said: “Designing a stadium to meet the unique design requirements of the RDS Main Arena is a complex and challenging task. We have today submitted a planning application for a redeveloped Anglesea Stand which will create a top class experience for visitors and positively impact on the Dublin Horse Show, Leinster Rugby and any other events held in the Main Arena.”

RDS Horse Show 2012
Cian O’Connor and Blue Loyd with part of the Anglesea Stand in the background (2012).

The present capacity of the entire arena is 18,500, and this is expected to increase to 21,000.

The capacity for the Dublin Horse Show currently stands at around 13,000 and this will increase to 15,000 once the reconstruction is complete.

The RDS will be solely responsible for managing the redevelopment of the Stand, the total cost of which is expected to be in the region of €26 million.

The RDS indicates that not only will capacity increase, but also spectator facilities, enhancing the whole viewing experience for show jumping fans.

Since completing the international architectural competition for the redevelopment of the RDS Main Area, won by the consortium of Grimshaw / Newenham Mulligan Architects, the RDS has been working with the design team to develop the detail of the initial design concept.

The final redevelopment design has to meet the specific requirements of Leinster Rugby, the Dublin Horse Show and other commercial considerations of the RDS, all contained on a tight building footprint and in a busy working environment.

There is speculation that selling of naming rights to the arena may also be a key component in funding the €26 million project.

The RDS arena was originally developed to host equestrian events, primarily the annual Dublin Horse Show, which was first held there in 1881. The site had been acquired in 1879 by the Royal Dublin Society.

The Grandstand, which faces the Anglesea Stand, was rebuilt in 2006 for the 2006–07 rugby season, to replace the old wooden stand when Leinster Rugby first became permanent tenants. A roof was added during 2008-09.

In 1881 the first viewing stand was erected on the site of the present Grandstand. It held 800 people.

In 1925 Colonel Zeigler of the Swiss Army first suggested holding an international jumping event. The Aga Khan of the time heard of this proposal and offered a challenge trophy to the winner of the competition. In 1926 international competitions were introduced to the show and this was the first time the Nations’ Cup for the Aga Khan Challenge trophy was held.