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Brighton & Hove Bandstand : Architecture
Victorian Structure Restoration in Southern England, UK – design by a:b:i:r architects
27 Jul 2009
Brighton & Hove Bandstand Restoration
Birdcage images: Richard Rowland
a:b:i:r architects gives historic seafront bandstand new lease of life
Brighton & Hove’s historic seafront bandstand will be officially opened this week (Jul 24) after a major restoration project by a:b:i:r architects to return the building to its Victorian splendour.
Bands will be playing on the Grade II listed bandstand for the first time in years at Friday’s opening concert, which starts at 8pm and the bandstand will be illuminated as dusk falls on the seafront.
Patcham Silver Band will be starting off the evening of celebrations before Brighton & Hove mayor Councillor Ann Norman, performs the official opening by switching on the lights. Attending with the mayor will be Councillor Mary Mears, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council and Councillor Geoffrey Theobald, Cabinet Member for Environment. Brighton & Hove Youth Orchestra’s string ensemble will also be performing, along with Samba band Estrondo and indie band Gloria Cycles.
The opening ceremony and concert marks the culmination of a year-long, £950,000 restoration project by a:b:i:r architects for Brighton & Hove City Council.
Built in 1884, the ornate cast iron structure is regarded as one of the best examples of a Victorian bandstand in the country.
Restoring such a distinctive building has been a painstaking task involving a team of specialist craftspeople.
Work included removing the bandstand’s eight cast iron pillars and transporting them to a foundry in Derbyshire where 40 layers of paint were grit blasted off. The coats of paint applied over the years helped to protect the bandstand in its exposed seaside location.
The intricate decorative arches – or spandrels – linking the pillars were also removed for restoration and a new bridge was constructed to link the bandstand once more with King’s Road.
Crowning the whole project is the oriental style-roof which has been transformed, among other work, with a new coating of copper.
The deck of the bandstand will now be used for regular concerts for the first time in decades, while the base of the building has been converted into a café.
Councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “The opening of the bandstand is a real cause for celebration. Local residents and visitors have been following progress on the restoration closely and it is wonderful to see it returned to its former glory.
“It is a much loved landmark and we look forward to enjoying many more concerts there in the future.”
Deckchairs will be set up around the bandstand for public to attend the opening concert, along with invited guests.
Musician Stan Keen who regularly performed at the bandstand in the Fifties and Brighton couple Dawn and Tony Colburn, who used to meet there when they were courting, are among those invited to the opening.
Mr Keen said: “We loved playing on the bandstand, it was a very popular venue – we never had a dull crowd, they would always join in and sing. I’m thrilled that bands are going to be playing there again.”
Two pupils from Somerhill School in Hove, who have written poems which have been set in stone in the garden area around the bandstand, have also been invited to attend.
Giles Ings, director of a:b:i:r architects, the architects responsible for overseeing the project on behalf of the council, said: “The design consultants, contractor and council have really pulled together in renovating this truly magnificent Victorian structure. The research and attention to detail, together with modern intervention will enable this much loved symbol of Brighton & Hove’s’ seaside architectural history to be brought back into use for our community, now and in the future.”
Brighton ‘Birdcage’ Bandstand – Facts & Figures
The £950,000 restoration project has been carried out and funded by Brighton & Hove City Council
Cheesmur Building Contractors were the main contractors.
The cafe in the base of the bandstand will be operated by local company, La Fourchette
The official name of the bandstand is the Western Bandstand – it was nicknamed the ‘Bird cage’ because of its intricate ironwork
Bands last played regularly on the bandstand in the Fifties, although some concerts were staged there in the Eighties
The cast iron structure weighs 23 tonnes
Each of the eight pillars supporting the roof weighs 1.2 tonnes
The metal sub-frame of the roof was winched off by crane, shot blast and re-primed, before being returned and clad in new timber
The original bridge linking the bandstand with King’s Road was removed in the Seventies
During World War Two the bridge was covered with barbed wire as part of the coastal defence
The cupola – the lantern on top – was originally lit by gas light
The bandstand will now be lit up on a nightly basis
Lighting will usually be white – but the colour will be changed for special events, such as the forthcoming Pride week
The lighting system uses low energy bulbs and was custom made to be sensitive to the listed structure – and ensure the fitments are virtually invisible to the public
Brighton ‘Birdcage’ Bandstand – Building Information
Architect: a : b : i : r architects
Client: Brighton & Hove City Council
Main contractor: Cheesmur
Structural engineer: Dixon Hurst Kemp Consulting Engineers
Quantity Surveyor: RLF
Brighton & Hove Band Stand images / information from a:b:i:r architects
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photo : Andy Stagg
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