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Books on Bandstands


Shire Publications


Bandstands are a distinctive feature of public parks and seaside promenades all over Britain. But what do we actually know about them? Why did they appear in our earliest parks? When were they erected, and who made them? This book explores and provides answers to these questions, showing how the bandstand evolved from the buildings of the early Victorian Pleasure Gardens, how it in nearly every public park of the time, how its design was influenced by the great landscape designers, and how a very small number of Scottish foundries cornered the market across the world, from Bradford to Brazil. From parks, seaside resorts and civic spaces, bandstands have appeared and disappeared - but are once again re-appearing, being restored and enjoying a new lease of life. This book, the only on the subject, is a timely reminder of an essential component of the British park.


  • Introduction

  • Bandstands in Parks

  • Seafront Bandstands

  • Great Foundries of the ‘Iron Age’

  • Decline and Revival

  • Further Reading

  • Gazetteer

  • Index

Bandstands of Britain

The History Press


Bandstands of Britain is a historical celebration of one of the best-loved features still found in many of our Victorian parks, open spaces, squares and seaside towns. They are a reminder of a forgotten age of outdoor music and theatre. They act as a lingering memory of the class and sophistication that prevailed in the Victorian age. This book celebrates the bandstand in Britain – showcasing the elaborate and iconic pieces of Victorian architecture for what they are. Beautiful full-colour images are accompanied by a potted history of the evolution and devolution of the British bandstand.


  • Foreword by David Mitchell of Historic Scotland

  • Introduction

  • Scotland

  • England and Wales

  • Gazetteer of UK Bandstands

British Bandstands

Amberley Publishing


Bandstands have been a feature of the British way of life for well over a century but after the Second World War an increasing number fell into disuse and were neglected. Sadly, many were demolished as public parks and seaside resorts went into a spiral of decline in the 1980s and 1990s. However, in 1997 the Heritage Lottery Fund started investing in our public parks and gardens and this has seen the rediscovery of bandstands which has continues to this day. Former Director of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Dr Stewart Harding has described them as ‘wonderfully exotic structures that are at once very familiar and also alien in their strange designs - looking like UFOs, Moorish temples, rustic cottages or Chinese pavilions’.

Many have been restored in the last 20 years, over 120 funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, from Aberdeen to Aberystwyth, Nairn to Nottingham, Watford to Worcester. These restorations mark a rebirth of the British Bandstand and this is celebrated in this book with imaginative restorations, designs and new usage for one of our most iconic British landmarks – the British bandstand.

Parkitecture - Buildings and Monuments of Public Parks

Amberley Publishing


What are the ingredients of our great British public parks? We often think of the wider landscape of trees, grass, lakes, meandering footways, bedding displays and herbaceous borders. But they are much more than this … so much more. Among the parkitechture featured here are some of Britain's finest lidos, paddling pools and outdoor swimming pools; bowling greens; bandstands; gates, railings and boundaries; fountains; glass houses, palm houses, winter gardens and conservatories; refreshments rooms; lodges and pavilions; bridges and boathouses; aviaries; children's play areas, and statues, memorials and monuments.

This book acts as a long overdue celebration of the buildings and monuments of our public parks.

Bandstands - Pavilions for Music, Entertainment and Leisure

Historic England


A number of books have been written on the role of the great Victorian reformers from the early part of the 19th century and the impact of recreation on reform. These books touch on the move from traditional recreation and leisure to the more ordered and attempts at rational recreation. The growth of towns and cities and the subsequent parks movement was at the core of this and activity within them – and more than often involved the role of music and ultimately the bandstand. The bandstand has a history of its own and has barely been covered by except by this author. What this book will cover is however significantly different to the previous books and adopts an academic approach to the subject rather than basic nostalgia focused history. What it does cover is the link to earlier eighteenth and nineteenth-century bandstands with broader histories of popular music in public gardens and 

parks, two vital sources on this being Lynda Nead’s Victorian Babylon: People, Streets and Images in Nineteenth-century London (2000), David Coke’s Vauxhall Gardens: A History (2011), and Jonathan Conlin’s The Pleasure Garden: From Vauxhall to Coney Island (2012). Many of the earlier Pleasure Gardens such as Vauxhall and Cremorne were centred on music, entertainment, often described as having “Eden-like atmospheres” but were only available to the great and good and who paid to use them. These were however, the first examples of models of public parks and entertainment therein. This book therefore has a number of potential key themes. What it will cover is the following:-

  • The transition from popular recreation to rational “ordered” recreation, the role of the reformers, Temperance Societies, Puritans, Sabbatarians etc and the growth of music in pleasure gardens and parks;

  • The evolution of the bandstand as the creative focus for music in parks – from the essentially private Pleasure Gardens to Public Parks;

  • The growth of seaside towns and dramatic changes in leisure – bandstands by the sea;

  • The art and architecture of the bandstand – rustic to ornate to art deco to brutalist;

  • The great foundries – Saracen to Hill & Smith – where did they all go to? Export and overseas bandstands. The export of bandstands from Britain across the world, more particularly to Britain’s formal and informal imperial colonies;

  • The impact on society of music in parks and the many seaside towns – eg the growth of the Brass band movement;

  • Decline and revival of bandstands (linked to changes in leisure, the impact of new forms of recreation and the subsequent decline of parks and seaside towns); and

  • Public entertainment in parks today. The relevance of the bandstand to a 21st century society.

This will be an important book in my opinion. Why? Books on Victorian leisure cite the importance of parks and seaside towns but then go into little detail of what went on within them, what their impact was, and how they were used, what the social benefits were? It is a gap in knowledge. I have written two books on bandstands and five on parks histories and it is clear that this is an area that needs to be covered. Parks historians such as Hazel Conway, Harriet Jordan, Susan Lasdun all touch on the importance of the parks movement and refer to the advent of the bandstand but do not go into any detail. There is significant archive material in old parks minutes and newspaper reports (eg Jack Donaldson of the Daily Express writing in his Music and Notes Column in 1937). A clear example would also be that we know the London County Council had a Director of Music in their parks to ensure that the appalling standard of music in parks was improved and that the terrible sound of street music was dissipated. Crowds of 40,000+ would turn up for band contests in places like Corporation Park in Blackburn, and crowds of 10,000 were regularly seen in the Arboretum in Lincoln. But there is little detail about their impact on local communities and the bandstands themselves.

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