THE historic Grade II listed bandstand at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens has been restored to its former 1874 glory after six months of painstaking work by conservation specialists.
The local landmark, which sits in the Gardens’ Grade II listed 15-acre grounds in Edgbaston, has been completely transformed, following a 12-month fundraising campaign that raised £138,000.
Extensive work included reinstating some original features – including the colour scheme and restoring the roof and lead, timbers, brickwork, mouldings, gold finials, and acoustic screen. There have also been sympathetic adaptations, such as new steps.
The bandstand, where Neville Chamberlain gave his first public speech as Prime Minister in 1937 and was later used as an air-raid shelter in the Second World War, has been named The Peter Sowerby Bandstand, following a substantial donation from The Peter Sowerby Foundation.
Liz Frostick, development director at the charity, said it would be used as a platform for live music, weddings, other events, such as heritage and horticultural tours, and as an all-weather outdoor space for school groups.
“The bandstand looks stunning, and we’re absolutely thrilled with the quality of the restoration work, which takes it back to its heyday when distinguished Birmingham architect FB Osborn first designed it.
“It is a real testament to the expertise of the conservationists who went over every inch of the structure, used historical documents and drew on their expertise to restore it to how it looked when it was first unveiled almost 150 years ago.
“This local heritage gem will be a fantastic space for musicians and events. We’ve no doubt our visitors will appreciate the work that has been done to ensure it is safeguarded for another 50 years and beyond.”
The project has had the support of several prestigious national and local trusts and foundations, and individual supporters. As well as the major donation from the Peter Sowerby Foundation, without which the project would not have been possible, the Gardens also received donations from The Garfield Weston Foundation, GJW Turner Trust, 29th May 1961 Trust, Loppylugs & Barbara Morrison Trust, Feeney Trust, Grimmitt Trust, Limoges Trust, and George Henry Collins Trust.
As a charity, the Gardens, which is one of the UK’s most historically important botanic gardens and is home to four Victorian glasshouses, receives no regular public funding. Instead, it relies on the generosity of public donations, grants and income it can generate through conferences, weddings and other events.