Thursday, 4 May 2017

Bandstands ........... Nu 1 Victoria Park Swinton, 1897

Now anyone old enough to remember municipal bandstands in their hey day will have watched their slow decline.

It was a combination of things from that war time push to recycle old iron which robbed the stands of their ornate pillars and roof, to successive budget cuts and finally that simple fact that they fell out of fashion.

So when I was growing up our band stand which had long ago had become just a brick and stand was just somewhere that on rainy days you played.

No one sat in deck chairs enjoying a selection of music as the sun was reflected on the shiny brass instruments and park authorities looked upon them as old unfashionable blots on the landscape.

But not so Victoria Park.  Here as Antony’s photograph reveals is a fine example of what many of us will remember.

Built around 1897 when the park was laid out it embodies all that civic pride which said there was more to life than work, mean streets, and dark horizons.

According to one new book on public parks, the bandstand owed much to the 19th century’s fascination with the Orient.  The basic design may have been copied from “the raised –platform kiosks seen in Turkey and across the Ottoman empire” but was overlaid with influences from Indian palaces and temples.*

The French had shown one of these Turkish stands off at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1855 and what followed was a succession of developments over here with the first unveiled at the Royal Horticultural

Show in South Kensington and later moved out to parks in Southwark and Peckham where I came across them as a young boy in the 1950s.

All of which leaves me to thank Anthony for the picture and renew my acquaintance with Victoria Park which was made up of the grounds of Swinton Old Hall and opened for business in 1897.

And of course will be the start of a new series on Bandstands.

Location; Swinton

Picture; the bandstand Victoria Park, 2016, from the collection of Antony Mills.

*A Walk in the Park, Travis Elborough 2016, pages 155-56

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