Victorian bandstands remain a popular feature in many parks and open spaces across the UK. But why were so many of them built in Scotland?
Many of the more influential Victorians had worries about the working class.
With what little leisure time they had, those employed in the mines and factories might drink alcohol, or worse.
What was needed was something more improving.
And, according to historian Paul Rabbitts, bandstands were a very public part of this commitment to uplifting activity.
“Their purpose was part of what they called ‘ordered, rational recreation’,” says Paul.
“It was really something to get the working classes – to get them into parks and open spaces, and give them something that was much more ordered and regulated leisure and recreation.
“Basically it was to get them out of the gin palaces and the pubs.
“They saw music as being part of that, and the bandstands came out of that.”
This attempt at social engineering created an economic legacy, with workshops in the central belt of Scotland making many of the bandstands erected across the UK and beyond.
“It was all to do with the kind of ore that was found in the hills just outside Glasgow,” Paul says.
“The ore there was perfect for smelting and casting of iron. So what you found was you had a whole industry grow up in and around Glasgow.
“One of the very earliest foundries was Carron Ironworks near Falkirk but the biggest manufacturer of all was Walter MacFarlane and the Saracen Foundry in Possilpark in Glasgow.
“They literally cornered the market.”
Paul says MacFarlane was “a very clever man”.
“What he did was that he was very good at marketing.
“So nowadays we take for granted the internet, and catalogues and that kind of stuff.
“He used advertising through published catalogues that showed bandstands and all the other kind of things that they cast as well.
“He marketed them nationally but also worldwide as well.”
Recent years have seen a renaissance in Britain’s bandstands, with many being restored or rebuilt using lottery funding.
Some, such as the one at Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick, had gone almost without trace.
Paul says: “All that was left was the remnants of the plinth, which became a flowerbed and then a fishpond and then an empty piece of open space.
“They got lottery money and put back a replica of the original Scottish bandstand back in there.”
All images are subject to copyright.