"I am tremendously excited by the potential of our White City Campus and how it complements, and indeed enhances, the wider Imperial experience. It is already, certainly coming from the outside, a rich cauldron of world-class research, innovation, start-ups and scale-up, and industry partnerships. It is serving as a magnet attracting both SMEs and large corporates in the wider White City Innovation District."
-Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London
Two hundred years ago, White City was an expanse of empty farmland. It had a single railway track and the main source of work was digging clay to make bricks. Its structures were limited to a few scattered farmhouses and outbuildings.
It was not until 1908 that a Jewish-Hungarian émigré, Imre Kiralfy, spied an opportunity. At the turn of the century, London was gripped by a craze for public exhibitions. Kiralfy turned 140 acres of scrubby farmland near Shepherd’s Bush into a ‘Great White City’ – a development with some 120 exhibition buildings and 20 pavilions, covered in white plaster finish. It was a “shimmering stucco fantasy… the Disneyland of its day”. Two underground stations were built and people flocked to White City from around the world. The 1908 Franco-British exhibition featured a team of physicists from Imperial College London, hosting a display of science and technology.
After the Second World War, exhibitions gave way to social welfare and new forms of enterprise. White City became known for some of the most ambitious social housing developments in Britain. In 1960, the BBC opened its iconic Television Centre, which would serve as its TV headquarters for half a century. As well as a cultural and artistic hub, White City became the site of Queens Park Rangers, a world famous football club, and Westfield, the largest shopping centre in Europe. At every moment in its history, from exhibition site to global innovation quarter, White City has been at the forefront of new thinking and community ambition.