Like the Pavilion, the current Grand Stand at Lord’s is the third to stand on the site.
The first was opened in 1867, its construction funded by a private syndicate of MCC Members from whom the Club bought the stand two years later. The stand was 175ft long by 30ft high, contained a private box at the top for the Prince of Wales and offered the first permanent accommodation on the Ground for a printing office and the press. The second Grand Stand, designed by Sir Herbert Baker, architect of the Grace Gates, became one of the most recognisable buildings in cricket after it opened in 1926. With its long sweep of tiled roof and Father Time perched above the scorers’ box, Baker’s stand was truly a thing of beauty, loved by all who gazed upon it. But its charms were less apparent to those who watched cricket from it. 43% of its seats had an obstructed view of the playing area, and by the 1990s much of the structure was rotten.
With Lord’s scheduled to host the 1999 ICC Cricket World Cup Final it was clear that two particular areas of the Ground were badly in need of an upgrade - the media facilities and the tired Grand Stand. The working brief for the new stand demanded that work be carried out over two successive winters, with seating in the lower tier complete for the 1997 season. Architect Nicholas Grimshaw decided therefore that his design would need to be based upon off-site prefabrication of its major elements, which could then be simply assembled at Lord’s. Even this was not straightforward; uncertainty over planning permission for an integrated scoreboard meant at one point that two sets of prefabricated parts had to be prepared, one set including the scoreboard and one without it.
The lower terrace was completed on schedule, with 4,200 seats in use during the 1997 season. The following winter the remainder of the construction was put in place and the new Grand Stand was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh on 18 June 1998 to great acclaim. “Even the mizzle of a grey London morning could not deny the splendour of the new stand,” wrote Michael Henderson in The Times. MCC was delighted with the appearance of the stand, but just as pleased by the fact that the project had come in within budget and in time for the England v South Africa Test Match. Its predecessor’s construction had overrun – perhaps due to the General Strike of 1926 - and been completed too late for that year’s Test with Australia. Which might be why its architect Sir Herbert Baker saw fit to present the Club with the gift of Father Time.