Friday, August 24, 2012

By the Bandstand

By the bandstand in Town Gardens is the perfect place to play, as the children pictured here reveal.  Following heavy early morning rainfall the sun came out and turned the bandstand into a shimmering playground for young and old alike.

Three friends attract an admirer as they sit and eat their packed lunch and trade at the kiosk is brisk - no brown bread left when I order my cheese and onion toastie.

In 1892 the Old Swindon Local Board paid £700 for a seven acre plot of worked out Purbeck limestone quarry between Bath Road and Westlecot Road owned by the Goddard family, long time Lords of the Manor.  Designed by local architect W.H. Read work was completed within 18 months and Town Gardens opened with a flourish in May 1894; the inaugural ceremony an exercise in Victorian pomp and self congratulation.

Led by the 2nd Wilts Volunteer Band a procession of 19th century Swindon worthies marched from the Market Square to the new gardens by way of Newport Street and Springfield Road.  Those attending the opening ceremony read like a Who's Who of Swindon traders, among them H.J. Deacon Wood Street jeweller, R.B. Bowly High Street brewer and T.Turner brick maker and builder.

The ornate cast iron bandstand was built by Elmbank Foundry in Glasgow and the original building had no clock but a simple weathervane on the top.  The refreshment kiosk, a former GWR information booth built in 1915 was erected in the park some years later.

In October 2000 English Heritage placed Town Gardens on the Register of Parks and Gardens as a Grade II site.

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1 comment:

  1. I love that Band stand. So quintessentially English. I remember there being one in the Rec, as we called it, in Whitwell. I expect it's long gone now.

    I was on a walk with friends a few Sundays back and we went through Old Town gardens and a brass band was setting up on the band stand. It was just like Trumpton! :-)