Pavilions for music, entertainment and leisure

By Paul Rabbitts

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In 1833, the Select Committee for Public Walks was introduced so that 'the provision of parks would lead to a better use of Sundays and the replacement of the debasing pleasures.' Music was seen as an important moral influence and 'musical cultivation … the safest and surest method of popular culture'. The introduction of the bandstand became significant in the reforming potential of public parks.

However, the move from the bull baiting of 'Merrie England' to the ordered recreation provided by bandstands has never been fully comprehended. Music in public spaces, and the history and heritage of the bandstand has largely been ignored. Yet in their heyday, there were over 1,500 bandstands in Britain, in public parks, on piers and seaside promenades. Some venues such as the Arboretum in Lincoln attracted crowds of over 10,000, whilst London's parks attracted more modest numbers at regular weekday and weekend concerts up until the beginning of the Second World War.

This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of these pavilions made for music, discusses the music played within them, their design and manufacture and their worldwide influence. The book describes the bandstand's evolution from 'orchestras' in the early Pleasure Gardens, through the reforming Victorian period, to the post Second World War decline and their subsequent revival in the late 1990s.


  1. Early leisure to rational recreation
  2. Rational recreation: pleasure gardens to public parks
  3. Brass in concert
  4. The art and architecture of the bandstand
  5. Decline and revival of bandstands
  6. The future of bandstands?

Bandstands image gallery

Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

Additional Information

  • Series: Architectural History
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 248
  • Illustrations: 244, colour
  • ISBN: 9781848023727 (Paperback) | eISBN:9781800857919 (PDF)


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