Bandstand

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.[1] This work was completed by November at a total cost of £238-16-10.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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..[5]
In 1897 a similar arrangement was made, with the bands giving 18 performances during June, July and August, including every Thursday evening.[6]

Bandstand from postcard (1908)

Postcard showing the bandstand c.1908

In February 1913 the Parks Committee agreed to allocate £175 to engage bands to play in Belle Vue and other parks for the coming season.[7] In April it was agreed that bands would be engaged for the afternoon of Whit Monday, and a schedule of subsequent performances would be drawn up.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] By 1915 band performances had ceased (presumably the effect of the 1914-18 war).[11]

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.[12] The following month the first Battalion Seaforth Highlanders were engaged to perform from July 10th to 17th for the sum of £250.[13] Programmes were sold daily at a price of twopence.[14]

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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] Subsequently several bands gave performances in Belle Vue Park on Sunday afternoons in September and took collections in lieu of payment by the Council.[18]

In December 1923 the Parks Committee accepted a quotation to supply 500 chairs to place around the bandstand.[19]

In February 1924 the Parks Committee received a letter from Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd offering to give a demonstration of "apparatus specially adapted for outdoor wireless demonstrations in the public parks". The Committee asked the company to arrange a demonstration in Belle Vue Park.[20] Subsequently in May Marconiphone wrote offering a demonstration of entirely new equipment suitable for use on bandstands in the open air and the offer was accepted.[21] In July the Parks Committee agreed to purchase a wireless receiver with the necessary equipment at a price of about £130. The Committee also agreed to accept the offer of Mr W. J. Webb to operate the wireless set free of cost, and that the Parks Superintendent select one of the Parks employees for tuition in operating the set.[22] In the meeting of the 25th July the Committee heard that the equipment had been installed.[23]

At the end of the 1924 season it was reported that the wireless receiving set had been operational from July 7th to September 30th inclusive and that the concerts given had been well appreciated. It was also stated that this wireless set was the first to be installed in a public park in Great Britain.[24] At the beginning of the 1925 season the Marconiphone Company demonstrated new equipment which the Parks Committee decided to purchase, the company agreeing to take back the existing set in part exchange.[25] "The new equipment was stated to be the very best of its kind for fulness of tone, remarkable clarity and production in reproduction of the natural speech and music and the strength would be audible to perfection within half to three-quarters of a mile."[26] In May 1925 the Committee agreed to purchase a motor generator from the Electricity and Tramways Department, to be installed in the park, to charge the batteries for the wireless set.[27]

Mr G. N. Dowdall (who also provided the refreshments service at Beechwood Park) was appointed in May 1927 to operate the wireless sets in Beechwood, Belle Vue and Shaftesbury Parks during the year ending 31st March 1928, for the sum of £75 inclusive of tram fares. It was also decided that copies of the Radio Times be purchased weekly for each of the three parks.[28]

In April 1928 the Parks Committee agreed to contract the Newport Electric Company Ltd. to operate the wireless receiving sets in Beechwood, Belle Vue and Shaftesbury Parks for the period May to August inclusive.[29]

Throughout the mid and late 1920s the Committee followed its earlier policy of not paying bands for performances but instead allowing collections to be made. In addition the Committee agreed to allow charging for admission to the terraces at Belle Vue Park.[30]

In January 1933 the Parks Committee decided that the use of the wireless receiving sets at Belle Vue, Beechwood and Shaftesbury Parks should be discontinued and it was agreed to dispose of these sets.[31]

The policy of allowing bands to take collections rather than paying for performances continued for most of the 1930s, but in 1938 the Parks Committee decided that it would provide £50 to engage bands to play in Belle Vue Park and Beechwood Park for the summer of 1938.[32] Bands would be engaged for performances on Sunday afternoons and evenings in June, July and August.[33] As the performances in June were well attended, a further £50 was provided for the remainder of the summer.[34] These arrangements were repeated the following year, when nine bands were engaged to give performances on Sundays in June, July and August 1939.[35] In 1940 the same programme of performances was approved for that summer and £100 set aside to engage bands.[36] These arrangements were repeated for the summer of 1941.[37]

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. A aerial photograph taken on 28th July 1991 shows a bandstand in place.[38] The present day bandstand is a modern replica.[39]

Sources of Information

  1. Newport County Borough Council Parks Committee 18th May & 15th June 1894
  2. Newport County Borough Council Parks, Cemeteries and Allotments Committee 23rd November 1894
  3. Newport County Borough Council Parks, Cemeteries and Allotments Committee 21st June 1895
  4. Newport County Borough Council Parks, Cemeteries and Allotments Committee 16th August 1895
  5. Newport County Borough Council Parks, Cemeteries and Allotments Committee 15th May 1896
  6. Newport County Borough Council Parks, Cemeteries and Allotments Sub-Committee 28th May 1897
  7. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 21st February 1913
  8. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 18th April 1913
  9. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 16th May 1913
  10. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 20th February 1914 and Parks Sub-Committee 19th February 1914
  11. Newport County Borough Council Parks Sub-Committee 28th May 1915
  12. Newport County Borough Council Parks Sub-Committee 20th February 1920
  13. Newport County Borough Council Parks Sub-Committee 9th March 1920
  14. Newport County Borough Council Parks Sub-Committee 3rd July 1920
  15. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 18th March 1921
  16. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 11th May 1923
  17. Newport County Borough Council Parks (Music) sub-Committee 28th May 1923
  18. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 28th September 1923
  19. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 28th December 1923
  20. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 22nd February 1924
  21. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 23rd May 1924
  22. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 1st July 1924
  23. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 25th July 1924
  24. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 24th October 1924
  25. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 30th April 1925
  26. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 27th March 1925
  27. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 25th May 1925
  28. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 27th May 1927
  29. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 27th April 1928
  30. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 21st March 1929
  31. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 20th January 1933
  32. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 18th February 1938
  33. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 13th April 1938
  34. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 17th June 1938
  35. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 16th June 1939
  36. Newport County Borough Council Parks and Cemeteries Committee 17th May 1940
  37. Newport County Borough Council Parks (Music)Sub-Committee 5th May 1941
  38. Welsh Government 9138 Geonex 88/91 Frame 165 28th July 1991
  39. Belle Vue Park Newport, Management Handbook Executive Summary, February 2017