Bandstands have been a feature of the British way of life for well over a century - but, after the Second World War, an increasing number fell into disuse and were neglected. Sadly, many were demolished when public parks and seaside resorts went into a spiral of decline in the 1980s and 1990s. However, in 1997 the Heritage Lottery Fund started investing in our public parks and gardens and this has seen the rediscovery of bandstands, one which continues to this day. Former Director of the Heritage Lottery Fund Dr Stewart Harding has described them as `wonderfully exotic structures that are at once very familiar and also alien in their strange designs - looking like UFOs, Moorish temples, rustic cottages or Chinese pavilions'.
Many have been restored in the last twenty years, with over 120 funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, from Aberdeen to Aberystwyth, Nairn to Nottingham, Watford to Worcester. These restorations mark a rebirth of the bandstands across the nation, a rebirth that is celebrated in this book with images and information detailing imaginative restorations, designs and new usages for one of our most iconic cultural landmarks - the British bandstand.
Paul Rabbitts has over twenty years of experience in designing, managing and restoring urban parks across the UK. As a qualified Landscape Architect and current Head of Parks for a SE Local Authority, he is also a published author and regular contributor to journals and periodicals. Currently head of parks for Watford Borough Council, he is also project director for the GBP6.5 million restoration of Cassiobury Park, as well as an author on books on Regent's Park, Richmond Park, the royal parks and bandstands, on which he is acknowledged as a UK expert. He lives in Leighton Buzzard.