The foundation stone was laid in 1861 - although a large part of the building had already been completed. It occupies a Grade II listed building formerly known as the Royal Agricultural Hall, which opened in c.1861 (but the date on the clock is 1862). According to the official Islington Libraries compilation The Royal Agricultural Hall had its origins when in 1798 the Duke of Bedford, Sir Joseph Banks and other nobles and gentlemen decided to form the Smithfield Club which would hold annual exhibitions of livestock, agricultural produce and agricultural implements.
Following some forty years of exhibiting, first in Smithfield at Wooton’s Livery Stables near Smithfield Meat Market then at a site in the Barbican, it moved in 1839 to premises in Baker Street. However it outgrew these and it was then proposed that the Club erect a hall large enough to accommodate their annual display and also to be available for other shows. It was then one of the largest exhibition halls in the world. It was this building that was the original basis of the present hall, which has expanded on this site since the foundation stone was laid (though most of the building had already been completed) in 1861. The main exhibition hall covers . It hosted the Royal Tournament from its inauguration in 1880 until the event became too large for the venue and moved to Olympia in... Read More