This hut was originally at the entrance to the pier. Now it sits forlornly outside the Pavilion tea rooms

This hut was originally at the entrance to the pier. Now it sits forlornly outside the Pavilion tea rooms

Eastbourne has the site of a dead bandstand, forgotten, hidden away behind the Pavilion tea rooms, unwanted because the owners, the local council, have no idea what to do with it.

There is something quintessentially English about visiting an English seaside resort, and listening to the band.

Eastbourne, between Brighton and Hastings, has had eight bandstands over the years, looking closely at the first photo, you will see something either side of the tea rooms. The remains of the bandstand promenade, hidden by metal barriers.

the ornate floor is complete and undamaged. The weeds are wild

the ornate floor is complete and undamaged. The weeds are wild

There have been three bandstands on this site over the years, a comfortable ten minute stroll east of the pier along the flat seafront. These days you have to be aware of predatory cyclists weaving in between the pushchairs for elderly and young alike, as well as parents shepherding their young to and from the shingle beach. Oh the joys of finding a complete, clean shell, proudly showing it to parent who nods with appreciation. ‘That’s a nice one’.

When the first bandstand was built on this site in mid-Victorian times the main promenade hazard would have been boys with hoops prodded by sticks. They would have been bored with listening to a military band, the bewhiskered chops blowing into their instruments with gusto. The strident tones called the young men to the march of duty.

All three bandstands have had the Redoubt fort in the background. This was built in 1806 against the possible invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte, who never came but the large fortification remained.KODAK Digital Still Camera

The first bandstand, on the site until the end of WWl, had a viewing capacity of over 2,000 listeners, with their rapt attention kept alive with a different military band every few days throughout the season.

The curved promenade was built as a barrier to the Redoubt fortress, with pale stone and a high roof. The construction was dual purpose, as a viewing platform for those above, as well as a protection from the inclement elements.

Between the Wars the bandstand was demolished, and a new one erected, this time facing toward the Redoubt, instead of away. This meant that the seating capacity was limited, but the military bands shared the bookings with dance bands, and there was an area for dancing.

Before the outbreak of WW2, it was altered, so the stage again faced the park, with more emphasis on military bands playing.

the remains of the colonnade.

the remains of the colonnade.

After falling into disrepair and suffering bomb damage during WW2, the bandstand was demolished in the 1950s, and tea rooms built on the site of the bandstand. These were themed, with the emphasis on quality. However the patronage waned, and within the last few years the waitress service disappeared, part was adapted to a free entrance museum, but all the while the colonnade remained hidden behind the tea rooms.

So, behind the barriers, the beautiful old last remaining part of the bandstand is left to moulder. It can’t be demolished, because there is too much history. It can’t be restored, because there is nothing that can be done to it to turn it into a visitor attraction.

It is now a political problem that has been conveniently forgotten. And its future? Nothing obvious. Hide it away, hope that no-one notices it’s still there, and maybe one day another elected party will address the problem.

Just not now.

Built 1871, left to rot 2015

Built 1871, left to rot 2015

 

 

 

 

About Harry Pope

Very few writers earn more than £10,000 annually. Harry is one of the poorer ones. He is no longer middle-aged, as he knows no-one who is getting on for 140. Literary success has come with an attempt at maturity – failed both – but marital stability with Pam has more than compensated. He is an accomplished speaker, talking on a variety of topics, including how not to run a hotel, buried secrets, and what’s it worth. See Harry The Talker. He has five published books, see Harry The Writer. He is Eastbourne’s only licensed sight-seeing guide see Harry The Walker. He has a daily blog see Harry The Blogger. The only site not purchased is www.harrytheeverything.com but that might come, who knows. He was a London funeral director for many years, then started Cheam Limousines in 1990, selling some thirteen years later. Arriving in Eastbourne in the Summer of 2003, Harry and Pam first bought a small guest house, then a large hotel, which proved to be disastrous because of their business partnership with a moron from California. He now walks, and talks, sometimes both at the same time.