And the band played on in range of venues
NAILSWORTH Silver Band gave the inaugural performance from the new £60,000 bandstand in Gloucester Park this month in 2010.
By tunefully doing so they were continuing a tradition in the city that dates back to Victorian times.
Many local people will remember the present bandstand’s brickbuilt predecessor, which dated from the 1920s.
But the original was built in 1863, a year after Gloucester Park opened, at the expense of Charles Walker, a local timber merchant and industrialist who owned the Norton Court estate.
A Gloucester guide book of the 1960s tells us: “Besides arranging arts balls, ballroom championships, junior competition dances, midnight matinees, lectures, orchestral concerts, street decorations at Christmas and a weekly Saturday dance at the Guildhall, the City’s Entertainments and Publicity Committee arrange band concerts and a carnival in Gloucester Park, which originated with the Holidays at Home weeks during the war.
“Normally held in the last week of July and first week of August, outdoor entertainment is provided on the stage of the Bandstand”.
If your memory stretches back to the 1960s you may recall the Battle of the Bands that accompanied the summer carnival when local pop groups played from the bandstand for cash prizes.
The bandstand you see in this photo of Tewkesbury’s Victoria Gardens was erected in 1904 and funded by a series of concerts played by the Corporation Band.
At a meeting in January of that year it was revealed the cost of “a good serviceable stand in character with the gardens could be erected for about £40 or £50”. The first fundraising event was a civic ball attended by the great and the good. Other events followed, including a Promenade Concert on The Bell Hotel bowling green, Chaceley Garden Fete, the Working Men’s Club’s 14th Annual Regatta and Sports and the Twyning and District Fruit and Flower Show in Twyning Park. Sunday afternoon concerts from the bandstand in Victoria Gardens were a regular feature of Tewkesbury’s summertime calendar and from 1922 to 1934 the town band gave 55 public appearances.
Perhaps the grandest occasion was the parade to celebrate the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937.
When the Second World War broke out the band disbanded.
Apart from a brief reunion shortly after hostilities ceased, Tewkesbury was without a band.
That was the situation until 1974 when the town band was reformed by popular request – and with a promise of £2,500 from the borough council to buy instruments - at a meeting in the Watson Hall.
But by then the bandstand had disappeared from Victoria Gardens.
At least 10 bandstands have appeared in Cheltenham over the years.
Some were erected and demolished, while the one you see pictured on the sea front at Bognor originally stood in Imperial Gardens, near the Town Hall.
The pagoda-shaped structure was made at Walter Macfarlane and Co’s Saracen Foundry in Glasgow and installed in the Cheltenham pleasure gardens at a cost to the borough council of £1,850 in 1920.
Between the two world wars regular concerts were staged on its elegant platform.
Believing the fashion for bandstands had passed the council sold it to Bognor in 1948 for just £175.
Today Cheltenham has two bandstands.
The example in Pittville Park was built by Collins and Godfrey, building contractors of Tewkesbury, and erected in 1900.
It was first sited directly in front of the Pump Room, interrupting the view of Cheltenham’s most important Regency building.
The following year the bandstand
was relocated to its present position. It’s unusual in a number of ways. Firstly, it’s wood, whereas most Victorian bandstands are cast iron.
And it’s not big enough to be a proper bandstand, in fact there’s barely room to swing a euphonium, which is why to this day two-tier performances are given when bands play from the venue with a few of the musicians up on the bandstand and the majority sprinkled below like icing sugar round an ornate cake.
Cheltenham’s other bandstand can be seen in Montpellier Park.
It was built in 1864 and is the oldest still in use in Britain.
The decorative cast iron panels were made by the Coalbrookdale Company of Ironbridge and the eight columns that support the roof by John Acton Butts’ Kingsholm Iron Foundry of Sweetbriar Street, Gloucester.
During the Edwardian era the town’s archery club stored its paraphernalia in Montpellier’s bandstand in the basement beneath the stage.
During the Second World War the same space was used to house the winch for a barrage balloon.
Having been allowed to fall into disrepair, the Montpellier bandstand was given a thorough makeover in 1994 and since then has continued to look resplendent and do the job for which it was intended.
Other bandstands in the county can be seen at Newent, Stroud’s Stratford Park and Cirencester’s Abbey Grounds.
Pittville Pump Room with the bandstand to the left with, inset, the former Imperial Gardens bandstand in Bognor Regis. Left, Tewkesbury’s bandstand
Gloucester Park’s second bandstand and, inset above, the present and original version
Cheltenham Winter Gardens, top, Montpellier Gardens and, top right,the bandstand in Stratford Park in 1990