Save our historic bandstand

Michael Gill at the bandstand in Centre Vale Park, Todmorden.

Michael Gill at the bandstand in Centre Vale Park, Todmorden.

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Help us to restore our historic bandstand to its former glory and make it an asset for the community

That is the desperate plea from the Todmorden Bandstand Resoration and Support Society (Todmorden B.R.A.S.S), a new group set up to ensure the beleagured bandstand can be used for generations to come.

The group’s call comes after firebugs set the 100-year-old bandstand alight on Friday evening, in what police are currently investigating as a deliberate incident.

The bandstand, which sits in Centre Vale Park, was fully refurbished in 1999 after a fire destroyed the timber and firefighters just managed to save it following another fire in 2005.

But in recent years, the bandstand has become a target of vandalism and has deteriorated to the extent that it is unable to be used for summer events, including the town’s carnival and the Tour de Tod concert.

Calderdale Council said it was not in a position to fund replacement or rebuilding, but is keen to secure the best possible future for the bandstand.

Now the group, headed up by former Todmorden Mayor Michael Gill, has vowed to repair the bandstand to a usable condition.

Mr Gill said: “We want to repair the bandstand to a usable condition initially and then organise and run events to keep it in regular use, continue fundraising to get the bandstand back to its former glory and then keep it maintained.

“The structure as it stands appears to be sound but a lot of surface work needs doing. The fire at the weekend was a worry, as it highlights how urgently the security of the structure needs improving before we lose it entirely again.

“What is really needed is better security than a half collapsed fence. The police have suggested bright lighting to make it less appealing to gather on and CCTV is also something to be considered, but these things cost.

“This is where Todmorden B.R.A.S.S. comes in. We have done well with the fundraising in the short time since we formed, but what is needed is a fast injection of cash from private donations if we are to reach our goal of having the bandstand safe and in use before the end of the decent weather this year.

“If it takes longer, so be it, but I’m determined that we will have a fully functioning bandstand by next year’s carnival.

“To me, the bandstand is as iconic as Stoodley Pike and it’s quite a unique design - it’s a part of Todmorden.

“We would love to hear from anyone wanting to donate or help in any way. Especially local businesses that feel they could possibly sponsor the project or an event.”

And sending a message to those who target the bandstand, Mr Gill added: “It’s your bandstand as much as ours, there are things going on that would enjoy, so why spoilt it for the town.

“Just treat it with some respect.”

To help the group realise its dream, contact Michael Gill on 07885494726. Donations can be made through the group’s account at Yorkshire Bank under Todmorden B.R.A.S.S.

More information can also be found on the group’s Facebook page and a public meeting is currently being organised.

In the wake of the latest fire, Mayor of Todmorden, Steph Booth, said: “I think it’s a dreadful shame and I feel very desperate for the group, this is the last thing they need.

“I would like to see the bandstand completely renovated and back in use. It’s awful that the park is being ruined in this way.

“Centre Vale is a lovely park and to get the bandstand back into use would be fantastic.”

Coun Barry Collins, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and economic development, added: “We have inspected the bandstand since last weekend’s fire and luckily there is no structural damage.

“However, it is disheartening to see another incident of vandalism at this iconic building which is valued by local people.

“We had previously placed fencing around the bandstand to try to prevent access as it’s not safe to use, and we are closely monitoring the condition of the building.”

Inspector Rachel Bairstow of Valleys Neighbourhood Policing Team added: “We are investigating an incident at Centre Vale Park where it is believed the bandstand was deliberately set on fire on Friday evening.

“I would appeal to anyone who was in the area at the time and saw anyone or anything suspicious to contact the police.

“People may not think that these types of offences are that serious, however there is potential for any fire to spread and possibly endanger life.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the PC John Sodhi at Valleys Neighbourhood Policing Team via 101.