Strike up the band!

Panoramic view of Glasgow International Exhibition 1901. Fine Arts NS452 GLA2

Panoramic view of Glasgow International Exhibition 1901. Fine Arts NS452 GLA2

Kelvingrove was originally created as the West End Park in 1852 by the leading landscape designer  Sir Joseph Paxton, Head Gardener at Chatsworth House, whose other work included The Crystal Palace in London.  The Town Council had purchased the land, which formerly represented the Kelvingrove and Woodlands estates, that year for £99,569, around £8 million today.

The park was created for the rapidly growing West End of the city, for the recreation and amusement of the citizens of Glasgow, and was one of the many Victorian parks created in response to the appalling conditions created by rapid urban growth, resulting from the industrial revolution.

It has been used twice for International Exhibitions in 1888 and 1901 as well as being used for the Scottish International Exhibition in 1911.

MS Farmer 616: Farmer conducting at the first Sunday concert in Kelvingrove, 1918

MS Farmer 616: Farmer conducting at the first Sunday concert in Kelvingrove, 1918

In 1918 Dr Henry Farmer formed the Glasgow Symphony Orchestra with the idea of performing concerts in the Glasgow parks on Sunday afternoons. Dr Farmer (1882-1965) was a bandsman, musical director and orientalist. He spent most of his working life in Glasgow and was fully involved with many musical projects within the city.

Today Kelvingrove contains a bandstand, skatepark, five bowling greens, four synthetic tennis courts, croquet green, children’s play area and of course Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

The Kelvingrove Bandstand within the park was designed by James Miller and built in 1924 by the City Parks Department and is situated on the west bank of the River Kelvin. Now recognised as a rare example of its type the bandstand was listed as Category B in 2000 by Historic Scotland due to it’s ‘cultural and social significance’

Compton Theatrone Organ. Music in the Parks, 26 May 1952.  STA Fn 8/16a

Compton Theatrone Organ. Music in the Parks, 26 May 1952. STA Fn 8/16a

Glasgow Transport Entertainers, 26 May 1958. STA Fn 8/15b

Glasgow Transport Entertainers, 26 May 1958. STA Fn 8/15b

The bandstand was extremely popular for band concerts in the 1950’s to the outdoor gigs in the 1990’s. It has played host to thousands of concerts and events over the years, from Military Music to old-time Music Hall, from Glasgow’s first ever Steel Band Festival to the Radio Clyde Rock Concert Series.

However in the 1990’s the bandstand fell into into disrepair and the stage area was fenced off in 2001 following vandalism to the building.

Following a long running campaign to restore the bandstand, work finally began in Autumn 2013 to bring both the bandstand and amphitheatre back into use, creating an open air performing space, equipped with modern facilities.

The Kelvingrove Bandstand and Amphitheatre is due to open in Summer 2014 to coincide with and support the cultural activities of the Commonwealth Games.



Categories: Special Collections

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