In June 1894 the tender of Messrs Richardson Bros. was accepted to construct the bandstand at a cost of £199-10-0. It was to be of diameter not less than twenty feet, and to be built on the terrace below the pavilion. This work was completed by November at a total cost of £238-16-10.
For the Park's first summer season the Council agreed to pay the Volunteer and Post Office bands £50 to play at the park up to the end of September, one of the bands to play one evening every week. The arrangement was amended in August such that the bands would play on Monday and Thursday evenings and the season would close earlier as a result. The following year it was agreed that the same bands plus the Town Band would play every Thursday until September 10th and once a month on Mondays for the sum of £75. In 1897 a similar arrangement was made, with the bands giving 18 performances during June, July and August, including every Thursday evening. In later years this pattern of performances was repeated, but by 1901 expenditure had to be shared with two new parks and the £100 which the Council was permitted to spend on band performances was allocated as follows: Belle Vue £50, Beechwood £30, Shaftesbury £20. Similar arrangements were made in 1902, 1903 and subsequent years, until 1910, when the total sum available to spend was raised to £200.
In early 1912 and again the following year the Parks Committee agreed to allocate £175 to engage bands to play in Belle Vue and other parks for the coming season. In April 1913 it was agreed that bands would be engaged for the afternoon of Whit Monday, and a schedule of subsequent performances would be drawn up. For Belle Vue Park it was later agreed that the band of the Amalgamated Musicians Union be engaged for two afternoon performances for £5 per performance.
In 1914, responding to requests from local bandmasters, it was decided that glass wind screens would be provided for the bandstand at a cost of about £15, and also that artificial light would be installed for use when necessary. By 1915 band performances had ceased (presumably the effect of the 1914-18 war).
Resuming entertainments after the war, in 1920 the Parks Committee sought to provide high quality bands to play in the parks and decided to allocate £250 to engage a first class military band for a period not exceeding seven days. The Committee also considered making the public parks closed to the public except on payment for admission on days when top quality bands were performing. The following month the first Battalion Seaforth Highlanders were engaged to perform from July 10th to 17th for the sum of £250. Programmes were sold daily at a price of twopence.
For the 1921 season a new approach was adopted. The Parks Committee decided that it would not pay for entertainments in the public parks but invite bands to play and take collections during the performances. This policy was continued in 1922, but in 1923 it was decided that a sum not exceeding £200 be spent on musical entertainments in the public parks. Bands were engaged to play in Belle Vue and other parks during Whit Week and on additional dates for the rest of the season. Typical fees were £7 to £10 per performance and total expenditure came to £198-15s. Subsequently several bands gave performances in Belle Vue Park on Sunday afternoons in September and took collections in lieu of payment by the Council. In December 1923 the Parks Committee accepted a quotation to supply 500 chairs to place around the bandstand.
Between 1924 and 1933 the Council operated wireless receivers supplied by Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd, to provide additional musical entertainments broadcast within the park (see Entertainments for further details).
From the mid 1920s onwards the Committee followed its earlier policy of not paying bands for performances but instead allowing collections to be made. In addition, charging for admission to the terraces at the park was permitted. This continued until 1938, when the Parks Committee decided that it would provide £50 to engage bands to play in Belle Vue Park and Beechwood Park for that summer. Bands would be engaged for performances on Sunday afternoons and evenings in June, July and August. As the performances in June were well attended, a further £50 was provided for the remainder of the summer. These arrangements were repeated the following year, when nine bands were engaged to give performances on Sundays in June, July and August 1939. In 1940 the same programme of performances was approved for that summer and £100 set aside to engage bands. These arrangements were repeated for the summer of 1941.
In 1942, as a consequence of wartime, the Council received a request from the Welsh Board of Health that entertainments be arranged for workers taking holidays in their home towns. Bands were then engaged on a weekday as well as on Sundays and provision for entertainment in the parks was increased to £250. In June it was reported that recent band performances had been very popular and had attracted large audiences. As part of the Summer Holidays for Workers scheme it was decided to engage bands to play dance music on Thursday and Saturday evenings for the summer months, and in order to provide a space for dancing, a large section of the gravel surface around the bandstand was resurfaced with tarmacadam at a cost of £300. This work was completed at the end of July and the first dance was held on Thursday 30th July 1942.
For the 1943 season it was decided to use gramophone records as well as live bands, members of the Parks Committee having visited Roath Park in Cardiff to see the "mechanical apparatus" used there for the provision of music. The Parks Superintendent was instructed to place an order with the General Electric Co. Ltd. for the apparatus to play gramophone records. It was proposed to install this equipment in the pavilion at Belle Vue Park and in Beechwood House. The Committee allocated £400 for the equipment and £75 to engage bands to play in the parks. There was a BBC broadcast for the Holidays at Home scheme from Belle Vue Park on Friday 30th July 1943 from 6:30 to 7pm, including band music and a Punch and Judy show.
From the late 1940s onwards entertainments diversified to include concert parties, children's entertainers and recorded music as well as engagement of bands.
Ordnance Survey maps show that the bandstand was present at least until the 1960s. It can be seen in an aerial photograph dated 10th March 1955, but not in the photograph dated 10th May 1967. An aerial photograph taken on 28th July 1991 shows a bandstand in place. It was reported in 1987 that the Newport Council planned to spend £15,000 on a new permanent bandstand. This was to replace the temporary scaffolding and hardwood structure provided each summer. The Leisure Services Committee heard that a replacement in keeping with the original bandstand demolished in the 1960s was estimated to cost between £29,000 and £80,000, but Wicksteeds Leisure Limited could supply a wooden structure in the required style at a cost of £15,000. In the event the bandstand was constructed by a local contractor, Gwent Welding and Fabrication Limited. Band concerts were reported to be part of the Council's summer entertainments programme in 1990.
The present day bandstand is a replica of the original, said to have been recreated from archive photographs.
Sources of Information