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Bandstand in Derby Park 2020

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Photograph of Derby Park Bandstand taken 1895 - 1910 © Historic England Archive 

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Derby Park Bandstand c1900s

(Click photos to enlarge)
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Victorian England witnessed a proliferation of public parks as cities sought to alleviate the grime of industrialization with oases of green for recreation. Parks needed a focal point and what better than a bandstand? Which, with its rich decoration and its oriental shape, provided just that. But a bandstand wasn't purely decorative – it provided music too. It was our Victorian forefathers who thought that 'good music would free the mind of urban griminess and humanise the industrial landscape'. During their heyday in the Victorian era, bandstands were enormously popular and often drew huge crowds. An account by the Daily Express writer Jack Donaldson published in 1937 observed: "I arrived on time but there was no room on the seats or the railings, so I leant against a tree and enjoyed the music. The children danced to it, played ball to it, sang to it and ignored it, The grown-ups, all listening, sat round on their wooden seats or leant against the green railings and were happy". 

Often designed with striking and intricate features, bandstands flourished until the Second World War impacted on the use of parks and the loss of material and recreational habits. Decline and dereliction followed, with nearly 600 bandstands lost between 1945 and 1980. However, a renewed interest in the value of public parks in the late 20th and early 21st centuries led to programmes of regeneration and restoration. In 2012, over 2,000 people attended a special opening ceremony for the newly refurbished Derby Park bandstand, which saw performances from Sefton Arts, Writing on the Wall (WoW), St Monica’s Catholic Primary School, Christ Church CofE Primary School, Bedford Road Primary School and Inspirations Dance Group along with other local talent. 

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