Band aid is helping to save historic seafront structure


The restoration of Bexhill’s historic bandstand is continuing apace despite the horrendous January weather, which would have slowed progress on many similar projects.

But that is certainly not the case when it comes to the dedicated team at Bexhill Heritage, who are determined to see the project through in time for a grand opening in April.

Despite the rain bucketing down in mid-January, project leader Steve Johnson and his team refused to let that deter them as they continue to work to restore the bandstand to its former glory.

The bandstand has a long and illustrious history.

Earl de la Warr built the first bandstand, which proved to be an immediate hit, with renowned English composer Gustav Holst once playing at the venue. Rumours suggest his world-famous Planet Suite could have been inspired by evenings spent star gazing in Bexhill.

Over the subsequent decades, it was converted into a seafront shelter and fell into a state of disrepair. By 2021, the building had sadly become a wreck but fortunately it retained its basic shape and original wooden ceiling.

However, much of the original structure still needed replacing.As a result of plans to preserve the structure, Iain Exley, a local heritage architect, came up with a new design which referenced the original bandstand with the ongoing work taking place due to a productive partnership between Bexhill Heritage and Rother District Council.

Once the restoration work is complete, the Bexhill community will once again benefit from using the the restored bandstand.

Everyone will have free access to the bandstand in order to relax, meet friends and chat, play board games or even just look at the seafront and marvel at its ever evolving landscape.
The seafront structure, henceforth to be known as the Coronation Bandstand, has had an extremely chequered history but now there is every reason to be optimistic about its future thanks to the partnership between the council and the heritage charity.

Mr Johnson, the chairman of Bexhill Heritage, said: “After lots of painstaking work in all sorts of weather, Bexhill Heritage’s team of volunteers are close to completing this ambitious restoration project.
“We are extremely grateful to Rother District Council for their substantial financial contribution and for their invaluable support.
“Bexhill Heritage’s members, sponsors and supporters have also made hugely generous contributions towards the final cost.
“Together we have tried to show respect for the bandstand’s original designers and builders and to realise their 1895 vision for a building which people can enjoy.
“We have proved just how many skilled trades are based within a stone’s throw of Bexhill. Our Victorian forbears would have used local suppliers and craft people when building the original bandstand and we have done our best to follow their example. Bexhill residents can now look forward to a new era for the bandstand which will be in situ for future generations to enjoy and cherish.”

Bexhill Heritage’s vision for the future is for a facility that everyone of all ages can enjoy. Local musicians, clubs, organisations charities and faith groups will be able to book time at the restored bandstand, but there will also obviously be time for residents and visitors to simply sit and enjoy the view.

Published on Monday 1st February 2023 by Bexhill News, page 5.