Friday, 6 December 2013

Eastbourne Bandstand (architecture)

Eastbourne Promenade at Dusk 
by Paul Liddiard
It occurred to me while I was in Porto a while ago that one of the main reasons I love taking city breaks is seeing the fantastic architecture that is on show for free all over Europe. Yet I rarely mention local architecture on this blog. Perhaps seeing the buildings so often leads me to take them for granted. So today is the first of what will be a few occasional posts about local buildings that have caught my eye - for good reason or, in a few cases, for bad.

Eastbourne Pier is often the most memorable image of the town for visitors but, for me, the art deco Bandstand is the highlight of the seafront. It was surrounded by scaffolding last winter as emergency work took place to support the roof and it was amazing to be able to catch glimpses of the scarily rusted metalwork under the painted and tiled facades. The Bandstand will be closed throughout the winter for extensive restoration work meaning that the traditional Christmas and New Year concerts will be at the Redoubt this year. The Bandstand is due to reopen next Easter though.It can seat 1600 on three tiered levels and has been used as a filming location for a variety of programmes and films - Foyle's War, Little Britain, Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging and, of course, the recent episodes of Antiques Roadshow.

Eastbourne Bandstand is unique in the UK. It was built in 1935 with the first concerts at the end of the July beginning its strong tradition of open-air music on the seafront. There are currently around 150 concerts a year at the venue. It can seat 1600 on three tiered levels and has been used as a filming location for a variety of programmes and films - Foyle's War, Little Britain, Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging and, of course, the recent episodes of Antiques Roadshow. I discovered via the Local History Society that the first Bandstand in Eastbourne, called the Birdcage, was built for £300 in 1893. The current Bandstand was somewhat more expensive at £29,000, although that still sounds cheap by today's prices. The gorgeous blue tiled roof is visible right along the front and I love the geometric designs around the inner walls. I'm so glad that this beautiful building is to be restored sympathetically and look forward to visiting again during the 2014 season.

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