Built in 1905, this is the last traditional bandstand in Bromley, made famous by glam rock icon, David Bowie. It is also the last surviving example built by the Victorian Glasgow foundry, McCallum & Hope, and a particularly fine example of its type. The Beckenham Bandstand hosted many national and civic celebrations over the decades, but none more famous than the Free Festival of August 1969, when Bowie played for the people of Beckenham at the bandstand. The Festival coincided with Woodstock in the US: three days of peace, free love and music.
“The children of the summer's end gathered in the dampened grass/ We played our songs and felt the London sky…. Climbing through the ivory vibrant cloud/Someone passed some bliss among the crowd/ And we walked back to the road, unchained” – Memory of a Free Festival, David Bowie Life on Mars?', Bowie's 1971 song, is thought to have been penned on the front steps of the bandstand.
The Beckenham bandstand has been in a poor condition for some years, with heavily corroded ironwork, flaking paint, damaged guttering, steps and brickwork. The project, led by the local community and Bromley Council, will include restoration of the delicate ironwork, new roofing, repainting and removing the 1950s/1960s railings. Work is due to start in July 2023.
THANKS TO HOLT...
HOLT has advised on the ironwork and given a grant, and has commissioned a scale model of the bandstand as part of a partnership with Arts University Bournemouth. As part of our Proud Prospects programme, local young people are researching the site to give presentations at City law firm, Jones Day.