Paul Rabbitts    

Park Manager, Parks Historian, Author & Public Speaker




Bits of Bandstands - the Design Details 

So what makes a bandstand beautiful - the whole is made up of a series of parts and I thought it would be fun to celebrate the bits that make these wonderful structures up - from the columns to the cresting; the spandrels to the baluster panels. Each of the foundries had their trademarks but many had their own querky designs - with the barley twist columns of McDowall Steven and Co, to the intricate panels designed by George Smith's Sun Foundry, to the majesty of the Lion Foundry, the simplicity of Rowell and the excellence of MacFarlane. Many of the images in Bad and Beautiful Bandstands just don't show up the detail within. This section is dedicated to the designers who worked for the many great foundries and the continuing work of guys like the Lost Art team who are keeping great design and restoration alive. 

Enjoy as much as I enjoy visiting, photographing and absorbing their ambience. 

Lightwoods Park, Smethwick, Birmingham, a Lion Foundry 23 model, erected in 1903 with this beautiful shield adorning one of the baluster panels. One of many attached. 

Garth Park, Bicester - manufactured by WA Baker of Newport, one of few remaining. The radial spandrel (the detail to the left pointing outwards) and the centre spandrel (to the middle and left on the photo) are simple but elegant and complement the detail to the top of the columns perfectly. 

Elder Park, Adelaide, South Australia - believe it or not this Walter MacFarlane 225 made it to the other side of the globe and is now incredibly well restored with the patterns picked out in the finest of decoration. Yet we have our very own models still in the UK - Exhibition Park in Newcastle upon Tyne as well as Magdalen Green in Dundee. But this one is exquisite. 

Wilton Lodge Park, Hawick, in the Scottish Borders, a reproduction of a McDowall Steven bandstand and yet another great piece of work by Lost Art. Opened 26th April 2015 and a stunning detail of a baluster panel.

Carfax Town Centre, Horsham, and a lovely detail on this MacFarlane 279, a well maintained and used bandstand. I do like the colour scheme too. 

Carfax Town Centre Bandstand, Horsham, spandrel detail, common on the 279 but the infill is quite unusual. 

Broadfield Park, Rochdale, a fully restored bandstand with this rather nice central spandrel and column detail and the colour scheme is just right. 

Broadfield Park, Rochdale - just a beautiful detail on the soundboard. 

The Arboretum, Lincoln, this George Smith bandstand has been restored with one of the most fabulous colour schemes I have seen. 

The Arboretum, Lincoln, decorative ironwork with the barley-twist column and baluster panel wonderfully coordinated. 

The Arboretum, Lincoln, another fine spandrel detail.

Sefton Park, Liverpool, centre spandrels and reputedly the inspiration for the album cover Sergeant Pepper.

Sefton Park, Liverpool, almost Disneyland in character.

Priory Park, Great Malvern, cresting on the roof of this Walter MacFarlane 249, needing a lick of paint but nevertheless, intricate and enchanting. 

Roberts Park, Saltaire, Bradford, an unusual pillar detail on this modern contemporary bandstand and a much nicer bandstand than the simple wooden structure that was there many years ago. 

The Arboretum, Walsall, a colourful detail and cresting on this MacFarlane shell bandstand in yet another HLF funded park restoratio. 

The Arboretum, Walsall, a Hilary Taylor Associates colour scheme picks out every detail on this column and I can't think of a better one anywhere.

Public Park, Dunfermline - the Andrew Carnegie bandstand, a philanthropist who never forgot his roots when he made his fame and fortune elsewhere. Many bandstands are dedicated to such people and have name plaques - all adding to their heritage value.

The Links, Nairn - this dome and terminal on our most northerly bandstands is gleaming in the winter snow and sunshine. Like many buildings, the best bits are often above you - cast your eyes upwards and see what you might be missing. 

Croydon Road Recreation Ground, Beckenham - the "Bowie" bandstand and in need of significant restoration bit this rather cute finial on the baluster panel. Flaking paint and hopefully soon to be restored. 

Small Heath Park, Birmingham - poor condition but remarkable details on this Yates and Haywood bandstand. Its long overdue restoration but no other one like this. I wonder what the crest means? 

Handsworth Park, Birmingham - another Hilary Taylor Associates colour scheme and this fluted column echoes such a great design by her. Virtually derelict at the end of the 80s, yet another HLF funded scheme. 

Derby Park, Bootle - an unusual spandrel design from the James Allan Elmbank Foundry of Glasgow. Not many of these left now so we need to preserve. 

Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham - this has to be one of the sweetest baluster panel details I have seen on the oldest bandstand in the country too. Beautiful and a rare Coalbrookdale bandstand too. 

Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham - another fine detail with this rather nifty edging just below the guttering. The colour scheme is well considered too. 

Victoria Park, Macclesfield - like all MacFarlane 279 models, they are topped with this trademark "crown" and terminal. So unmistakably a Saracen Foundry trademark. 

Hanley Park, Stoke on Trent - soon to be restored but the detail on this baluster panel is rather lovely and hope the restoration takes into account the MacFarlane eye for detail.

Embankment Gardens, Bedford - this quite slender and sleek looking finial on the top of this Rowell bandstand by the river on the exquisite Embankment Gardens. Look up and you will find all kinds of beautiful details.

Battersea Park, Wandsworth, London, an interesting baluster panel on this contemporary bandstand. Simple, colourful, even though its missing a bit!! 

Clifton Park, Rotherham, and the photo doesn't do it justice. Fantastic hard landscape detailing and the lettering is uplifting. 

Cross Fields Park, Wellingborough - the decking is beautifully designed and delivered on this restored bandstand, complimenting the panels and pillars just perfectly. 

West Pier - Brighton - its hard to know which bit to show on this one as its all beautiful, just the most beautiful of them all. The detailing is the most stunning I have seen and suspect there is none other to equal the Brighton Birdcage bandstand.

West Pier - Brighton - Spandrel details unsurpassed.

West Pier, Brighton - even the tiling is superb. 

Clapham Common - London and a very unusual baluster panel on this George Smith of Glasgow bandstand. One of our oldest bandstands. 

Clapham Common - London, double spandrel detail with very neat design and colour scheme. 

Ropner Park, Stockton on Tees - and a restored MacFarlane 279 model with a rather lovely baluster panel. 

Mary Stevens Park - Stourbridge - and now restored too. A plaque and coat of arms that looks fabulous since restored. 

Mary Stevens Park - Stourbridge and this fluted column and pillar detail looks great after restoration.

Stevens Park - Stourbridge - and a Lion Foundry base pillar detail

Stevens Park - Stourbridge - spandrel detail on this well preserved Lion Foundry bandstand.

Stevens Park - Stourbridge - and a lovely weather vane that could almost be missed unless you look up. 

Thame - Oxfordshire - and possibly one of the most artistic of baluster panels I have seen and only a few miles away from home. I visit it often but such a shame it is never used. 

Thame - Oxfordshire and a Dome bottom ring looking a bit neglected but the craftsmanship in creating this is incredible. 

Thame - Oxfordshire - and once again, if you look up you will see some amazing detain details. This terminal looks a little crusty but nevertheless, it is beautiful. 

Thame - Oxfordshire - it really is one of my favourite bandstands and this soundboard centre "rose" detail is just delightful. 

Lytham St. Annes - sea front gardens and although not strictly a bandstand, this is a Walter MacFarlane shelter and I don't think I have seen a lovelier detail than this, unaffected by the corrosive sea air. 

Lytham St. Annes - very similar to Thame bandstand and the pattern has been picked out incredibly well. 

South Marine Park - South Shields - is there a better Dome detail anywhere? Lovingly recreated by the Lost Art boys on this MacFarlane model. 

South Marine Park - South Shields - from the spandrel to the hanging "awnings" to the soundboard. Simply stunning. 

Town Park, Romsey - a lovely recreation of a lost bandstand thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund and this lovely pillar and baluster panel detail. 

Brenchley Gardens, Maidstone, a beautifully elegant terminal. 

Brenchley Gardens, Maidstone, and with similar tributes on each side. 

Fort Gardens, Gravesend, a deteriorating MacFarlane bandstand but with this wonderful terminal that deserves better. 

Vine Recreation Ground, Sevenoaks - a fabulous 224 baluster panel but what a simple detail on one of the few remaining models of these. 

Fassnidge Park, Uxbridge - another 224 MacFarlane model. Atrocious roof but lovely spandrel details

Fassnidge Park, Uxbridge - MacFarlane, just the greatest there ever was 

Cassiobury Park, Watford - pre-restoration but this Hill & Smith has such delicate spandrel detailing. 

Grove Park, Weston super Mare - a very rare bandstand, all the way from the Alloa Sun Foundry to the West Country 

Grove Park, Weston super Mare - a stunning, well crafted baluster panel. A better colour scheme would really enhance this. 

Mesnes Park, Wigan - the home of Lost Art, who restored this local beauty to its Victorian best. 

Mesnes Park, Wigan - a well restored dome, detail perfectly formed and as always, you should look up to see so much often missed finery.

East Park, Wolverhampton - once a derelict mess, and restored thanks to HLF and the intrepid guys at Lost Art.

East Park, Wolverhampton - the mark of MacFarlane

East Park, Wolverhampton - just look up 

East Park, Wolverhampton - great details picked out by the Lost Art team 

Grove Park, Weston super Mare - restored and popular on picture postcards. 

Locke Park, Barnsley - lovely Lion Foundry - needs a bit of TLC but spandrels elegant and wonderfully detailed.

Beckenham Rec, Bromley - the famous bandstand that Bowie played on in 1969. Again, it really needs a lot of work and hopefully will get the HLF grant it needs. 

Embankment Gardens, Bedford - nice additional details to the spandrel detail. 

Lister Park, Bradford - one of my favourite bandstands and with tributes to so many composers - seen similar in Brenchley Gardens, Maidstone. 

Lister Park, Bradford - not many entrances like this to a bandstand. 

Derby Park, Bootle - delicate column detail. Could be picked out in finer colours though. 

Sea Front, Clevedon - 1887? it certainly is and one of the few bandstands that remain on a sea front.

Town Park, Congleton - occasionally seen on a number of plinths and so important. 

Dock Park, Dumfries - lovely crest for the Royal Burgh of Dumfries 

Forbury Gardens, Reading

Forbury Gardens, Reading

Queen's Park, Loughborough

Cutts Close Recreation Ground, Oakham, Rutland

Cutts Close Recreation Ground, Oakham, Rutland