Position of Hillsborough stadium ‘unusual’ jury told

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The unusual position of the stadium at Hillsborough contributed to a build up of supporters at the Leppings Lane end where the disaster happened, a jury heard.

The new inquests into the 96 deaths today heard from John Cutlack, a structural engineer with more than 34 years’ experience.

He took the jury through an extensive collection of diagrams and images which showed how Hillsborough Stadium looked in 1989, ahead of their visit to the Sheffield Wednesday ground tomorrow.

Mr Cutlack, who has designed stands at football clubs including Newcastle United and Arsenal, said while it wasn’t unusual for the Hillsborough Stadium to be in a residential area, he did find it unusual that the stadium was surrounded by ‘quite large lengths of residential property’.

He added: “The orientation of the stadium was not the same as the orientation of the roads around it, so it goes at sort of 45 degree angle across the site on which it occupies.

“This meant that because of the constriction of the houses along Vere Road and along part of Penistone Road, and also with the presence of the River Don, a large proportion of spectators had to approach from the Leppings Lane end.”

The jury was also shown photographs taken in 1989 of the turnstiles at Hillsborough, and of the service roads and exit gates.

They were told the area had changed dramatically and tomorrow Mr Cutlack will use traffic cones, tape and poles to indicate exactly where the features were positioned in 1989.

The jury was taken on a ‘virtual tour’ of the Leppings Lane end using laser technology and 3D modelling.

They were shown the journey fans would have made on April 15, 1989.

They also heard some of the crush barriers in pens three and four of the West End were up to 60 years old and differed in style to the ones at the back of the same pens, which were inserted around 1978.

The hearing continues.