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The Brass Band Goes Tiddely-Om-Pom-Pom...

Francesca looks at a structure in the Beach Hotel novels that used to be a common site: the bandstand


In the 1910s, when the Beach Hotel novels are set, there used to be a lovely bandstand on the common, near the beach and not far from the Beach Hotel itself.


In A New Start at the Beach Hotel, Edie visits it a few times, sometimes with Charlie, one of the porters. Edie can see it from one of the bedroom windows as she's cleaning one afternoon, and she hears the brass band playing The Boy I Love is up in the Gallery. When Charlie's wandering past one day, he can hear banjos being played.



Bandstand with one of the curved glass shelters. You can see the Shelter Hall (a place of entertainment) and the windmill in the background. Probably around late 1910s?



Apparently there used to be around 1,200 to 1,500 bandstands in the UK in their heyday, not only by the seaside, but in parks too. These days there appears to be under 500 of them.


The bandstand in Littlehampton was built in the early 1900s, at the end of a road called Banjo Road. At some point in the next few years, curved, glass-sided shelters were built around it on two sides. In 1924, the two sides were joined together on the beach side to form a pavilion.



The bandstand now seems to have two of its shelters here


The bandstand that was in Littlehampton at the time of the Beach Hotel novels apparently burned down in 1928, but since there's one on a 1948 postcard, I presume it was rebuilt.




By 1924, a third section had been filled in to create a pavilion, and this was what it was like until its demolition in the 1950s



The bandstand and pavilion were demolished by the 1950s, when such things had gone out of fashion. We moved to Littlehampton in 1961, so I never saw it in real life. Banjo Road still exists, but sadly the only thing at the end of it these days is a coach park.



A comparison between the bandstand in its very early days, with no shelters and a similar view today. In the old photo you can see the Shelter Hall in the distance on the left, the white coastguard cottages, and behind, the windmill. In the contemporary photo there's a newer entertainment hall and a Harvester called The Windmill. To the right on both photos there are still the same houses on South Terrace.




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