Paul Rabbitts    

Park Manager, Parks Historian, Author & Public Speaker

Bad Bandstands

So what makes a bad bandstand? My love for them is undoubted I hope. But there are bad ones out there. I have categorized them into three areas:-

  • Poor or dull designs (this includes all Ollerton models as well as most modern ones);
  • Poor condition (a virtually derelict bandstand is of no use to anyone no matter how historic or important - if its knackered, its a bad bandstand); and
  • Poor maintenance and restoration (restored badly, maintained badly, doesn't get a lick of paint...really?)

The purpose of this page is to name and shame those responsible and hopefully they will actually do something about it. With many over a century old, we should be duty bound to look after them and there is money out there to do it and to get them continually used. Sort it people. 
Please don't get me wrong too, if its on here because its an Ollerton and just plain dull and you are using it - bravo and you should be applauded, but they are really dull. When its time to replace it, take a chance. Billingham is the exception. Awful. 
Recently removed from Bad Bandstands - been done up..... 
  • Horsforth Hall Park, Leeds. Well done guys. 
  • Parliament Hill, City of London - much improved.
  • Cassiobury Park, Watford - stunning.
  • Victoria Park, Ilkeston - back to its original state. 
  • Blake Gardens, Bridgwater - had a paint job.
  • Town Centre, Hemel Hempstead - a new one in place. 

Castle Park - Bristol

Owned by Bristol City Council. I am struggling to find anything I like about this. Quite like the blue - actually no, I don't even like that. 

Brigg, North Lincolnshire    

Owned by Brigg Town Council - an Ollerton bandstand, lovely condition but just dull, so very dull.  

Christchurch Quay - Christchurch, Dorset

Owned by Christchurch Borough Council. A stunning Scottish Lion Foundry bandstand actually being painted when I was there.... but black. Its all black and look at the opportunities with the detail in those baluster panels. 

Myrtle Park, Bingley, West Yorkshire

Owned by Bradford City Council. 

A lovely MacFarlane model right behind the Bradford and Bingley Building Society HQ - I am sure they have a few quid to spare to restore this mess. And those railings? were they spare ones they found in the highways depot? absolutely no class whatsover. 

Small Heath Park (Victoria Park), Birmingham

Owned by Birmingham City Council. I tried so hard with the energetic Friends of Small Heath Park Park to get this one restored and used more but sadly HLF West Midlands did not support. It is such an interesting model - probably a Yates and Haywood model from Rotherham with a double row of columns rarely seen and it is desperately crying out for restoration in this very important local park. 

Sparke Evans Park, Bristol

Owned by Bristol City Council. Another one in the historic city of Bristol. With so many lost in Bristol too you think they would preserve what they had left. Not according to this one in Sparke Evans Park. 

Ryelands Park, Lancaster, Lancashire

Owned by Lancaster City Council. The Council haven't even included this in their restoration plans and ignore my emails. It seems to have slipped through or just been ignored. Maybe they don't even know it exists. Certainly the pigeons love it as the roof was full of them. It has to be the worst one I have seen and deserves better. Utterly disgraceful. 


De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex

Owned and managed by De La Warr Pavilion - an RIBA Award winning bandstand installed in 2001. I just don't like it. It just doesn't fit its surroundings and yet I do like modern architecture. Frankly I look at this and look at what "design" there was during Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian times and this is the best we can do?? really??? It looks like a handkerchief lost momentarily in the wind. 

Cyfarthfa Park, Merthyr Tydfil

Owned by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough - a poor photo as my camera failed so was taken on a blackberry but probably just as well as the roof is appalling and its just lost sat in this lovely hillside park. 

Chatteris, Cambridgeshire

Owned by Fenland District Council. Just dull. Another Ollerton. Enough said. 

Filey, North Yorkshire

Owned by Filey Town Council, with a wonderful summer events programme, but its another very dull design. At least Stefan is enjoying it but he doesn't know any better. 

Overtoun Park, Rutherglen, near Glasgow

Owned and managed by South Lanarkshire Council, this rotting Macfarlane bandstand is one of the few left in the area and with the Scottish legacy bandstands, why is it left like this??? 

Bothwell Road Public Park, Hamilton

Owned by South Lanarkshire Council, this poor yet listed Macfarlane 279 erected in 1912 is a disgrace and yet its origins are only a few miles away and it deserves this??? 

Swanage, Dorset

Owned by Swanage Town Council. This picture doesn't even tell half the story. The Town Council have now removed the roof as its no longer safe while they try and obtain the funding to replace it. This incredibly important bandstand is one of the few remaining Macfarlane 224 bandstands left in the country (Leamington Spa, Sevenoaks and Uxbridge being the others). Flabbergasted that the Council have not been proactive in sorting this out before. Get an HLF bid in and call Yvonne Richardson from the Friends of North Lodge Park in Darlington who sorted out the £200,000+ restoration of their bandstand. 

Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees

Owned by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, but I am not sure they want to brag about it. It has to be the worst most brutal bandstand in the kingdom. I am struggling to find a single redeeming feature of this one. The paving does not even detract from the horror of this. Thank you Deborah Miller, resident of this Borough who clearly has a soft spot for this circular carbuncle. 

Girvan, South Ayrshire

Owned by South Ayrshire Council, an unusual but derelict bandstand on the Ayrshire coast overlooking a small park, empty and derelict and yet manufactured by Scottish foundry J.A. Law. 

Cheetham Hill Park, Manchester

Owned by Manchester City Council. Currently being looked at by Buddleia Consultancy as part of a local arts project but what a mess. Is it beyond repair? Bring in the Lost Art boys. 

Cheetham Hill Park, Manchester

Owned by Manchester City Council. The bandstand hopefully will be restored after local intervention and work by Buddleia Consultancy. Good luck guys. 

Victoria Park, LB Tower Hamlets

Owned by LB Tower Hamlets, in this incredible park and a well used bandstand. But it isn't pretty. Its not worthy of such a park. It looks like something from the film set of Blade Runner. 

Victoria Park, Haslingden, Lancashire

Owned by Rossendale Borough Council. A shocking bandstand and an abysmal replacement for the original which was one of the finest I have seen. 

Victoria Park, Nelson, Lancashire

Owned by Pendle Borough Council. They have even fenced this off, preventing you getting too close to see how badly it is maintained. Same style as the one in Ryelands Park, Lancaster. Both in Lancashire - must be the NW climate or sheer neglect. 

Bancroft Gardens, Hitchin, North Hertfordshire

Owned by North Herts District Council, this bold but brutally designed bandstand is hoped to be part of a wider HLF funded restoration for this park. Beautiful Hitchin deserves better than this and the graffiti and extra foliage in the guttering don't add to its aesthetics. 

Queen's Park, Heywood, Greater Manchester

Owned by Rochdale Borough Council, in this wonderful park recently restored, this really does look like an entrance to an aircraft hangar but as I have yet to see it, I may reserve judgement on it. 

Yeadon Tarn, Leeds

Owned by Leeds City Council, an authority that had nearly 20 bandstands in its parks and now has this one and another in Horsforth Hall Park (see below). The seating is placed that close because you can only get 4-5 musicians on here. Pointless. 

Rugby Rec, Rugby, Warwickshire

Owned by Rugby Borough Council, with the excellent and sensitive restoration of Caldecott Park and its bandstand, located near the town centre, this one seems to have been forgotten. The Rec is a fantastic piece of open space near a busy and popular leisure centre, yet this once important relic of an earlier leisure pursuit and activity, still so relevant, is ignored. 

Gourock Park, Gourock, Inverclyde
Owned by Inverclyde Council, you have to applaud them for having the courage to erect a new one and a bold design, but in the country where bandstands were fabricated and shipped all over the world?? Its not a great design. 

West Ham Park, London

Managed by City of London in this glorious park in Newham, well maintained and extremely popular but this really lets it down - fenced off, seemingly unused and unloved. The original was stunning. This is a dodgy replacement. 

Bridge Gardens, Maidenhead

Looks better than the one in Billingham - marginally

Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, Wales

In the main public park in Ammanford, looking sad and forlorn, this bandstand has been there since 1936 and like many, it really does deserve better. 

Valentine's Park, Ilford

Not much left of this beauty in the LB Redbridge. Park is nice and well used but I am sure loal park users would love to see this restored and reinstated. 

West Park, Jarrow

Taken a few years back but suspect its still a mess. South Tyneside Council have the stunning bandstand in South Marine Park, yet a few miles away in Jarrow's West Park, this sits looking rather sad and the poor relation to its sister in South Shields. 

Finsbury Circus Gardens, London

Just doesn't look good, awful balustrade, nasty white colour, nasty awnings, just nasty. 

Queen's Park, Brent, London

How can you do this to a Walter Macfarlane 279!!! did the local primary school come up with this colour scheme?? 

Warminster Town Park, Wiltshire

Its bad enough, then they add a stupid ridiculous ramp and paint it white and green. Its dull, its unimaginative and basically crap!!

Nuttall Park, Ramsbottom

No idea what was here (yet) but a past history remains.... but only just. What about some imagination and BRING IT BACK! 

Nunsmoor Park, Newcastle upon Tyne

Another lost Macfarlane 279  which I am sure would be welcomed back, and a great loss to this important park. 

Canbury Gardens, Kingston upon Thames

An ugly replacement for a once lovely bandstand, right by the River Thames. Its ok but a little boring. The brick plinth is damn ugly too. 

Scott Park, Burnley

What a stupid place to put a play area Burnley Borough Council. Great bit of planning making this bandstand unusable and useless. 

Queen's Park, Burnley

No soul, but plenty of green, has someone vomited all over it? sickly green, and in one word??? blurghhhhhh!!! 

Ellington Park, Ramsgate

A mess, roof is a state, no balustrade, soundboard falling apart and junk on the roof. Macfarlane deserves better than this. Get a grant and sort it out Thanet District Council. 

Abbey Grounds, Ciencester

Wow!!! whats going on here. A dull bandstand but whats going on with all those steps and railings. Total overkill in such a wonderful setting. 

Lakeside, Cleethorpes

Just boring. Great place to put a toilets sign so at least the band can whizz off for a quick wee mid march. Awful plinth, very dull. 

Gwent Square, Cwmbran

Shopping centre in the middle of Cwmbran - I quite like the roof but the brick pillars are just grim. It does blend into this rather urbane landscape. Grim 

Clarence Park, St. Albans

A lovely park restored and could have had the original bandstand back in but they shoved in this bloody awful Ollerton on a crap plinth. St. Albans..... hang your holy heads in shame. 

The Spires, LB Barnet

Now I have been critical of [email protected] bandstands like Billingham and Brigg, but this was sent to me by friend and colleague Tracey Jolliffe (daughter Tabitha 'enjoying' this pile of shite) and it comes close to those. Do they get bands on here? Fit for one purpose.... pulling down. 

Bathurst Park, Lydney

This beauty dates back to 1892 - not sure if this is it but it is rather odd and not sure what its purpose is. Fantastic placement of seats and benches.....NOT!

Memorial Park, Denaby

Gross, a real memorial. The houses have more character this heap of utter dullness and drearness zzzzz!!! wake me up please. 

Pencester Gardens, Dover

Perhaps been a bit harsh, but who added this steeple sticky out thing?? May need a visit to convince me. 

Brookdale Park, Newton Heath, Greater Manchester

Manchester, the city with a legacy of great Victorian parks and a once great legacy of bandstands like this lump left in Brookdale Park - and they are proud to still have it, and say its hardly used. I wonder why. Get those overpaid kn*bheads at **** Trafford and the Sh*tihad to fork out some of their massively inflated salaries to restore it. Write a letter to Wayne Rooney. He may like bandstands. Bad bandstand this one. 

Gelli Park, Gelli

Well what has happened here? who nicked the roof? This lovely old Hill & Smith bandstand worthy of being a glorious member of the bad bandstands gallery of shame. 

Tollcross Park, Glasgow

Yet another Ollerton replacement for a once wonderful bandstand. Glasgow, the home of the bandstand, Ollerton bandstands are a poor replacement for a Walter MacFarlane, Lion Foundry or McDowall Steven. Yuk. Dull. Boring. 

The Moor, Shopping Precinct, Sheffield

Unbalanced, out of proportion but does blend in with the office block at the end of the precinct. Ugly. 

Hartshill Memorial Park, Telford, Shropshire

I really like this wee park - I wrote the Management Plan for it many years ago but this simple but plain bandstand could be much better with a brighter colour scheme. 

George Rose Park, Darlaston

All that remains - yet another where base and railings remain. Sad, just very sad. 

Heanor Memorial Park, Heanor

What can I say.....? In fact, I will say nothing. 

Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames

Lovely wee town, bad bandstand, looks like a teenage shelter. Maybe it is. 

Town Centre, Kendal, Cumbria

Reflective of South Lakeland architecture.....NOT!! Cluttered with crap to hide it perhaps? 

Pier Head, Liverpool

Memorial bandstand, but what a bloody stupid roof. Do bands actually play on this? 

Island Gardens, Millwall

Just stupid and pointless. Its an unfinished observatory. Its rubbish. 

Newsham Park, Liverpool

A City under stress with budgets but have managed to restore Sefton and Stanley. Please don't lose this one and look to restore it Liverpool City Council. 

Alexandra Park, Oldham

Another Ollerton and not fit to grace this historic park. A worthy replacement for the long lost Walter MacFarlane 249? NO!! 

Worthington Park, Sale

All that is left of a great bandstand, but appears to be still used, but chopped off and no roof. 

Wellington Country Park, Risely, Berkshire

A new find (sadly) courtesy of Dr. Stewart Harding. This is truly shit! Lets hope it blows away in the next gales. 

Ware, Hertfordshire

Is that kid running towards it or away from it. 'orrible

Treharris Park, Treharris

Terrible of Treharris....... tortured of Treharris......Kind of stunned by this one. In fact I am speechless. Still better than Billingham.

Recreation Meadow, Stratford upon Avon

Big bandstand but then stick in a stupid plinth. Bad design bad bandstand.

War Memorial Park, Stourport on Severn 

What's gone on here? Which came first? the trees or the bit of a bandstand? A really old bandstand from c.1880 but never finished for some reason. Bit weird. 

Town Centre, Radcliffe 

Looks like a bus shelter, but... you know whats coming.... Its better than Billingham. 

Town Centre, Bletchley 

It looks temporary, I wish it was. 

City Centre, Carlisle

Apparently its temporary but its been there years. Incredibly well used but its crap. Its due for replacement according to the Council. Hope its better than this one, and not an Ollerton. They are crap too. 

Recreation Ground, Haverhill

I almost fell asleep looking at this one.

Kidston Park, Helensburgh

So what happened here? did it blow away? was there a tidal wave? This dates back to 1877 and this is all that remains? 

Basset Close Park, Wellingborough

Lots of debate on this one tonight over dinner with Jules and Ellie, as I wasn't convinced it warranted the title of bad bandstand, but they disagreed. Too white, poorly maintained and in a neglected park. Yet 2 miles away is the lovely Castlefields bandstand, beautifully restored. Need to have a think about this one. I may have a word. 

Crystal Palace Park, London

Its better than Billingham, its better than Bexhill, but its still bollocks.

Fort Gardens, Gravesend

An amazing setting for this Walter Macfarlane model but really in poor condition. The picture makes it look better but it really needs restoring. 

Pennington Hall Park, Leigh

What kind of colour scheme is this? Wigan Athletic FC colours? bloody awful. Crap ramp. Blurgh!!!! 

Somewhere in Skelmersdale

I do hope this one has disappeared? This was taken in 2012 so the council may have decided it was so bad and embarrassing. It has the feel of Billingham this one. It is as bad. Get shot of it. (NOTE - it went in 2014) 

Penarth, South Wales

Its not a bandstand!!!!! It isn't a bandstand..... it really isn't 

Centre Vale Park, Todmorden

This bandstand dates back to 1914 and has been used extensively as a focal point for the town. A fire in 1999 destroyed the timber, but not the iron frame, so the local authority was able to reconstruct the bandstand from surviving plans. In 2005, another fire threatened the bandstand but fortunately local firefighters were able to limit the damage.

By September 2014 the bandstand had fallen into disrepair through decay and vandalism and in April 2015, when this picture was taken, the structure was fenced off and no longer in use. Please don't lose it. It is lovely.

Victoria Park, Redruth

Nice bus shelter, even better shed. 

Woodhouse Ridge, Leeds

This is actually really sad. This wonderful Hill & Smith bandstand in its heyday. 

Sadly, this is all that is left today. 

Southgate, Elland, West Yorkshire

Bandstand or shelter? The woman is fleeing the scene. Maybe she just gave it it's blue shiny sheen. Either its dull. It could be much nicer with a better paint scheme. 

Ecclesfield Park, Ecclesfield, South Yorkshire

Not much love going on here. Grim play area too. Maybe they have forgotten this is a park 

Chapeltown Park, Sheffield

Used to be a bandstand here, now there is a sheep pen. 

Queen's Park, Loughborough

A butchered Hill & Smith - always thought it looked a bit ropey from the photos I had been sent. Why bad? Everything from the baluster panels upwards is a botched job - not original and the roof is just horrible. It sits in the centre of a stunning park, and appears to be a receptacle for hanging baskets. Paint was very poor and it was rusting badly. 

Western Park, Leicester

Bad for one reason alone..... The black as the top of the columns is anti climb paint. What the hell is going on here? Dirty black anti climb paint, put on badly and a sticky nasty mess. 

Mountsfield Park, Lewisham, London

Dates from 1920 this one. What's going on here? What's with the green plinth? What's the point? It doesn't even match the chuffin' grass green. 

Ponder's End Recreation Ground, Enfield, London

Are they having a laugh? Dates from 1935 and they do this to it? 

Springfield Park, Hackney, London

Dating from 1910, this starts off badly, and I can't quite make out what is happening at bum level? is that a rail of some sort? BUT then we look up and see a wonderful slate roof with that weathervane or terminal? I almost like it. But that rail thing spoils it. 

Waterlooville, Hayling Island, Havant

It's a bandstand.... apparently. 

Burley Park, Leeds

Crap.... can't think of any other words to describe it. 

Park Howard, Llanelli

This was supposed to be being done up. Can't see anything anywhere saying it has. Its looking rough. 

Abbey Gardens, Pershore

How I hate Ollerton bandstands

Windsor Gardens, Penarth

Looking like it needs a full restoration job to me - best looked at from afar 

Alexandra Gardens, Penarth

I will always hate Ollerton bandstands

Locke Park, Barnsley

A botch job, and PINK!!!

Castle Park, Penrith

Grim, uncared for and graffiti. The plinth was also flooded. How do you flood a raised plinth. The park sadly neglected too.