The Bandstand is a thing of beauty
Our small town has many gems of architecture. Some are hidden and visible only if you seek them out. Others though, like The Bandstand, can be found easily if you care to take a stroll around our streets, lanes and pathways.
I’m a great one for strolling – walking and hiking too. Sadly, my hikes have been rather put ‘on hold’ in recent months as a consequence of the pandemic I wrote about only recently. Our coastline, lakes, forests and fells have been closed and off limits to locals as well as visitors. That’s changing though and, once again, we can venture into and marvel at the beauty of The Lakes.
As yet, I haven’t ventured far – my aging body must first regain its strength and stamina as months of reduced activity takes some recovery time and training to put right! I’m a member of two local walking groups, both of which are resuming activities in 10 days or so! I’m looking forward to, once again, meeting with friends who, like me, have missed our treks in the countryside hereabouts. Of course, socially distanced walking will be the order of the day. It’ll be the new ‘normal’ but the conversation, banter and camaraderie will see us through.
I oft go off topic and here I go again! I got so excited about the resumption of my walking groups I forgot about my subject here. Where was I? Oh yes…
Strolling – that’s it. I was enjoying such a session only the other day and I found myself taking a peek in Park Road Gardens. Overlooking The Bay, the gardens are a delight throughout the year and we are lucky to have them to enjoy. Lawns and flowerbeds are kept pristine and, at this time of year, it is a joy to see the plants and trees bursting into bud with new growth.
Here too you will find numerous bat boxes and on a clear warm evening the twilight will bring a host of Chiroptera as they feed on the wing. Another joy in the park is the Sensory Garden where you can sit awhile and take in the sounds and smells of the natural world which surround you.
Right in the centre of the park you will find the town bandstand. A very fine thing it is too. Made of cast iron with an unusual zinc pagoda roof and ornamental ironwork, it is surrounded by a small moat and seating.
During all the years I have lived in this small town (with the exception of 2020), on warm summer Sundays, bands of all descriptions set themselves up here and entertain residents and visitors alike with musical renditions both old and new. On a breeze, the sound of brass or jazz can be heard throughout the town – I particularly enjoy the brass bands, but don’t tell anybody that for I am, deep down, a fan of hard rock!
Although The Bandstand can be found in Park Road Gardens, it didn’t start off life here. It was originally built, some would say, in 1895 by Harold Porritt (1855 – 1910), a textile factory director from Lancashire, on the promenade next to his Tea Rooms. However, ladies of the day protested to the council about soot and hot cinders from passing steam trains ruining their dresses whilst they sat and enjoyed the music, so it was moved to the park following its creation in 1930.
For many decades the sides of The Bandstand were glazed and enclosed – but these side panels have long since gone. It was extensively renovated in 1990, and is listed by Historic England.
With luck, and a fair wind, maybe we shall see a resumption of concerts soon – I hope so as I’ve missed them.