The NEC celebrates its 40th birthday

The National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in Birmingham – home of the Spring Fair – celebrated its 40th birthday on Tuesday (February 2), marking 40 years since HM Queen Elizabeth II visited the Midlands city to open the venue.

Over the past 40 years, the NEC has grown in size to accommodate an increase in demand for live events, exhibitions and conferences.

The NEC originally consisted of seven exhibition halls but today provides over 182,000sq m of indoor space across 20 interconnecting halls and 34 conference suites.

It occupies a 610 acre site in the borough of Solihull (eight miles from Birmingham city centre) and welcomes around 2.1 million visitors each year to over 500 events.

Commenting on the NEC’s milestone year, Paul Thandi, ceo of the NEC Group, said: “Forty years on, the NEC has established itself as the UK’s number one exhibition centre, one of the busiest venues within the wider European market and by some distance a global go-to business in venue management consultancy.

“It welcomes over three million visitors to some of the biggest and best events in the world each year and it’s also a significant driver to the regional economy.

“All of these well-established characteristics are set to grow significantly with the new entertainment and leisure offering brought on by the newly opened Resorts World Birmingham.”

When the NEC originally opened, Birmingham International Railway Station was still being built, Birmingham Airport was a small airfield known as Elmdon Airport and the M42 didn’t exist.

Kathryn James, managing director of the NEC, said: “The NEC’s surrounding areas have completely transformed since 1976, most recently with the opening of Resorts World Birmingham.

“The new leisure and entertainment complex has turned the NEC campus into a 24/7 destination; it’s a game changer for us and our customers and the start of the next exciting chapter in our history.”

Resorts World Birmingham – the UK’s first integrated destination and leisure complex – opened on the NEC site last October.

The Housewares Innovation Awards 2016, organised by and Housewares Magazine, will be held on the evening of Monday, February 8 at The Vox Conference Centre, located within Resorts World Birmingham.


HM Queen Elizabeth II opened the NEC in 1976


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