As bandstand clocks up 100 years the plea is ‘don’t leave it like this’

Lottery cash may be the key to renovating Todmorden’s 100-year old bandstand in Centre Vale Park, which has been subject to decay and vandalism through this year.

Monday, 29th September 2014, 7:00 am
Dereliction and vandalism at the historic bandstand in Centre Vale Park, Todmorden, highlighted by Philip Clarke

The condition of the bandstand has deteriorated to the extent that it was unable to be used for summer events including the town’s carnival and the Tour De Tod concert.

Now it has been revealed that Calderdale Council is seeking National Lottery cash to restore it to former glories - it was fully refurbished following a fire in 1999 which destroyed the timber but not its iron frame, and the council still had the plans to replicate it. Firefighters just managed to save it following another fire in 2005.

Todmorden residents have been up in arms about the neglect and vandalism of the site and the town’s Mayoress has been working with community groups in a bid to show what the bandstand means to townspeople.

The council announced this week it is preparing a to make a bid in February 2015 to the ‘Parks for People’ Heritage Lottery Fund to make-much needed improvements in Centre Vale Park, including the 99-year-old bowling pavilion, which is also in a bad state of repair.

Cahirman of Todmorden Carnival, Philip Clarke, summed up many people’s feelings on the state of the building. He said something needs to be done about the state of the bandstand and he has already been told that the site will not be in use in time for next year’s event.

“Yet another part of Todmorden history that falls foul to neglect and vandals,” said Philip. “There is a lot of vandalism, rotten boards and graffiti. How long is it going to be left in this state?”

While the bid is being submitted, schools, nursing homes, community groups and people around Todmorden have been submitting their ideas to the Mayoress of Todmorden Mrs Nikki Gill, who hopes to present her findings to the council.

She said: “I have a wonderful collection of posters and letters from the children at the schools’ that show how important it is to restore the bandstand in Todmorden. It is the focal point of the park and it has been 100 years since it opened, so I think this is when it should be fixed and the longer they leave it, the worse it will get.

“It is a massive problem, as it is a beautiful funnel for the sound when bands play but it is not just a case of using it for the brass band. There are so many other uses and sources of income for the council, that it wouldn’t be a waste.”

Children aged around eight years and up have been suggesting ideas for what the bandstand could be used for, including an open air classroom and for plays to be held in the park, said Nikki.

Care homes have been using the bandstand for reminiscance therapy for patients with dementia. Carers have been asking patients to remember the time when bands played and how the sound could be heard on the other side of the wood.

The Mayoress said: “The research is useful for everyone. It is a project that is very close to a lot of peoples’ hearts. We need enough ammunition to show that it does really matter to the people of Todmorden.” Calderdale Council’s Lead for Corporate Asset and Facilities Management, Alan Lee, said: “The bandstand within Centre Vale Park has been the subject of vandalism, particularly over the summer. In an attempt to deter further vandalism, fencing has been erected around the bandstand.

“The council is currently preparing a bid to the ‘Parks for People’ Heritage Lottery Fund, to be submitted in February 2015. This bid will seek funding to enable improvements to be undertaken in Centre Vale Park more generally, including repairs to the bandstand.”